Friday, December 14, 2012

More Christmas Goodies

The weekend after Thanksgiving...what?  A little behind you say???....anyway, I was invited to a friend's house for her yearly tradition of making truffles.

My job was to prepare the mint flavored insides.  This was SURPRISINGLY easy.  What stunk about the process was rolling them into balls.  I pulled out my little cookie dough scooper and the mint chocolate I had prepared was so hard it broke my scooper.  Waah.  I later discovered that each flavor produces its own kind of problems - hard or soft - but that the mint was one of the harder ones to roll.

Anyway - after four hours, we had a TON of truffles.  I didn't take my camera along, unfortunately, but I will if I'm ever invited back!

I think I went home with about 40 truffles!  We had mint (green), butter cream (yellow), raspberry (red), caramel (brown), and Bailey's (white).

We took these to a Sunday dinner at my parents' house.  Reviews were mixed on favorites.  Mom and Ellie really liked raspberry.  My kids loved the mint.  I'm not a huge truffle fan, but those Bailey's ones...slurp.

What was ridiculous?  We ate these in about a week.  Not our finest moment of 2012.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lefse 2012

This year's lefse making day was a doozy!  My mom's friends joined us for the first time and the kitchen was full!  The night before  Mom made eight (!) batches of lefse the night before and her fridge was STOCKED. We all got there and set right to work.

You roll lefse on special boards covered with a broadcloth like material and coated in flour.  LOTS of flour. To begin with, Tracy and mom's friend (and neighbor from the old 'hood), Sue, were in charge of rolling out the balls of dough.  Every year we get better and better at creating actual circles.  Tracy remembered right away how to get the lefse from the board to the stick.  Some people had a harder time with this at first ("some people" = Kerry).

Maddie and Jake's first post was the griddle.

Maddie pretty much stayed here all day.  For some reason those first few pieces weren't coming off the griddle like she planned and were getting massacred.  Fortunately they were still edible and we all decided this was a tasty batch of lefse!  Jake ventured into other areas, eventually hitting every job.

Mom's job was to cut and roll the dough into the balls.  This involved a lot of kneading.  I helped out in this area after awhile - but you get a lot of sticky fingers and I couldn't take pictures at the same time.  Jake joined in the fun after awhile too.

As I mentioned - Jake took part in all aspects of the morning.  He said he can't decide is grilling or rolling was the best job.  He leaned toward rolling though he thought he was better and grilling.  I will say - he had the most bizarre way of rolling.  It wasn't so much rolling as attacking in all manner of directions.  We all took some time to just watch his process.  His pieces ended in circles, but not without being beaten to death first.

You'll notice we didn't waste time hitting the liquor.  Mom had made a pot of chili for everyone so between jobs we all had a nice little break for lunch.  Marcia is in the top picture with mom.  She'd never made lefse before and helped out with different jobs.  She was a little less than enthused with the rolling part.  At one point Tracy offered to take over for her.  Marcia was leaning against the counter "one-handing" the rolling pin and more kind of tossing it across the dough.  She was only too happy to give it up.

Pat rounds out the quartet of "giggle girls".  I don't think she likes to cook normally, so she was only too happy to have the job of brushing the excess flour off the lefse pieces.  She started the afternoon here and ended here and is now a professional flour brusher.

Sue and Pat's husbands joined my dad for the afternoon and watched the Vikings game.  This was the first Bears game this year where the Vikings lost.  Not an overly enthusiastic group.

We've learned over the years what NOT to wear.  Hence the aprons, short sleeves and light colored clothing on a few of us.  Jake didn't get that memo and his pants were covered in flour.  Live and learn.

Unfortunately we didn't think to take a picture until after Tracy had left.  This process took a little longer than we anticipated and she had to get home.  By the end of the afternoon we'd made 80 full sheets of lefse.  We each got to take home 42 half pieces and I am slowly working my way through them all.  Occasionally I share with the rest of the family.

Thanks, ladies, for joining us!  Thanks, mom, for making all the dough the night before and hosting this huge mess so we could all enjoy some deliciousness!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tonight's Sudden Conversation

Tonight we dropped Maddie off at church for confirmation class and Mike, Jake and I headed to dinner.  About 10 seconds into the ride this is the conversation completely out of the blue:

Jake:  What's a one-night stand?


Mike:  Kerry?

Kerry:  Uhhh...where did you hear that?
Jake: I'm reading these cool facts on my iPod.  "40% of all Americans will have a one-night stand."

[Driving must have gotten intense because Mike was super focused on the road at this point.]

Kerry:'s where a guy and girl who may or may not really know each other...sleep together...asinhavesex...and then probably never see each other again.  It's really not cool.

Jake:  Oh...yeah, doesn't sound cool.  SO...Armadillos....

And like father, like son, Jake was pretty fast to change the subject as well.  But we did learn that somehow or other Armadillos get leprosy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ho Ho Ho!

This past weekend we set up our Christmas decorations.  Jake opened one box and found his new winter hat:

He wore it to school Monday and I think it's become his new go-to hat in the mornings.  I wonder if I bought him a snowman hat for January - and a different theme for each month of winter - if he'd wear them?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Breakfast of Champions

This morning Jake was rummaging through the refrigerator when he saw the lefse my mom had brought over a few days ago.  He mentioned how he would love some, but it probably wouldn't fill him up.  I agreed.

He decided on the next best thing...

I'm sure this is exactly what the teachers had in mind when they remind you to eat a healthy breakfast on test day.

Friday, November 16, 2012


A really great friend of mine was having a baby in October and I wanted to make her a blanket.  Forget getting her something she could actually use like a gift card to Domino's or something...

Anyway - ages ago I pinned this blanket with the hope that someday one of my friends would decide to have a baby.  I knew this would be the blanket I wanted to try in October.

I gathered the materials and sewed everything to what I read the directions to be.  I later realized that what I had read and what was written were actually two hugely different things.

This is what I ended up with:

Soft and cuddly?  I think not.

The inspiration was all fluffy - you couldn't see the underlying fabric between the rows.  Mine?  Not so much. I had chosen a base fabric of stripes where the rows on the back ran in complete opposite directions.  I had also chosen a very contrasting thread, so there was a third direction of "stripes" included.  It was migraine inducing.  Not to mention that the colors of the backing fabric and the colors of the flannel completely clashed.  I don't know what I had been thinking; it looked so cute at Joann Fabric.

And square...fuggle.  I had finally stopped trying because it was soon to be the size of a napkin.

The flannel binding, after washing, was not only pilling - because it was flannel - but was also coming undone because it was too thin a strip and my hand sewing was no match for the thickness of the blanket.

Mike, being ever supportive, told me it was fine.  My friend would love it.  I told him I could not in good conscience give this to someone I actually liked.

So, I headed back to the store and tried again.  I bought completely different styles of fabric based on my learning experience (big or minimal patterns only).  I bought flannel that actually matched.  I bought thread that blended into my backing fabric.

Then I went home and read the directions correctly.  Attempt number two ended with this:

Are you all breathing a sigh of relief for my friend?  I was.  THIS was what I had envisioned it turning out like.

See that fluff?  It might get fluffier with each washing!  I explained to my friend that she might want to dry it alone - this bad boy produces some lint!  Then I realized I had just given a gift of not only extra laundry...but one that possibly required special instructions.  What every new mother needs...

You may be wondering what we are going to do with the previous blanket.  Hence the post title.  It is Sadie's Christmas present.  If she were human she'd be a blanket baby.  She has a Barney towel that we gave her when she first arrived and it has giant holes in it, it's purple and has a picture of Barney on it.  I told Maddie my idea and she went right over to Sadie and told her, "You are getting a new blanket for Christmas!"

I told Maddie that wasn't very the dog won't even be surprised.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Griddle Master

Pancakes are one of our "go-to" meals.  For those certain nights of the week that we have very little time to prepare a full meal, pancakes are fast, easy, and we are all happy to eat them.

The only down side is that Mike or I are usually preparing them.  The cook rarely gets to actually eat with the rest of the family.

The last couple times of pancakes, Jake has really wanted to make the pancakes.  A few weeks back he and Mike worked together to learn how to ladle the batter without spilling it everywhere.  Jake also learned how to tell when pancakes need to be flipped.

Last week Jake was insistent that he could handle it all himself.  He started out with "dollar" pancakes and each batch got a little bigger until he had worked himself up to a "normal" sized pancake.

So now Mike and I get to eat, but Jake doesn't.  This is still not the perfect system.  However, Jake's favorite part is yelling (literally yelling to us who are five feet away...) "SOUS CHEF!  I NEED THE PLATE!"  Then one of us is expected to bring the plate over to be reloaded with fresh pancakes.  We think the power may go to his head soon.

Monday, November 5, 2012

All Dressed Up

I will totally admit to being a Halloween Scrooge.  I just cannot get into this holiday.  Last weekend the kids and I finally headed to the store to get a costume.  Maddie wanted to be some kind of crazy zombie (aren't they all...).  Jake originally wanted to be some scary clown, followed by a choice of some type of ninja followed by some other ninja.  I already had a headache.

30 minutes into the store visit I texted Mike, "This is killing me.  You are totally handling costumes next year."  He texted back, "Two ghosts...I'm done."  During our hour long time at the store Maddie tried on at least three costumes - none of which she liked.  Jake tried on one costume and realized it was too small.  I mentioned how in days of old we used to make most of our costumes (and by "we" I meant "my mom").  They actually scoffed at that; no one made costumes anymore.  But after looking things over for a fifth time, suddenly he asked if he could be a soldier - everything we already had at home.  Okay!  One down, one to go.  A couple more searches later for Maddie yielding nothing and I threw out a suggestion of how to make the costume she wanted at home and we headed out of the store having bought fake blood and some fake scars.

We brought an old "convict" costume of Mike's to my mom who consulted us on how to fix it up.  Maddie was having two friends over (also zombie wanna-be's) to hand out candy while Jake was heading out with Mike and a friend down the street.

A couple years ago Jake was a soldier.  I was surprised he wanted to do a repeat costume, but I think he seriously just likes two aspects: the camo, and the hat.

And just so everyone is clear...boys do NOT wear "makeup".  I mentioned that I thought his "makeup" looked great.  Mike and Jake were very clear that boys do not wear makeup they wear war paint.  My bad.

A full view shot...the bright yellow and orange gun really help hide him.  That's okay - they just match his shoes.  But, of course, I've been informed boys don't wear outfits either so I'm sure that was just an accident.

Maddie's two friends arrived and spent quite a bit of time putting together makeup and helping each other perfect their costumes.

Scary zombies:

Happy zombies:

Scary zombies:

Me, wasting an evening playing on the computer:

And as a final Halloween sort-of FAIL, I will present our "pumpkins"...

I have to say though - we had one neighbor boy that stopped me to stay he thought the bags were kind of clever.  His mom is a crafter so I'm pretty sure he's been taught to appreciate these types of efforts...

Halloween 2012 ended with three fake pumpkins and, against all odds, two home-made costumes.  The fake blood was used up and the scars remained in the packaging.  Hope Mike is ready for next year....I'll be watching from the sidelines.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Happy Birthday to the Mr.!

Yesterday was Mike's birthday!  He usually tries to declare it a holiday and takes the day off work.  This year he's even declared it a four-day weekend so he doesn't have work on Monday either.  He told his boss it was a National Holiday - she said, "Only national?"  He said next year he was going for international.

We had to ship the kids off to school, but we enjoyed a nice breakfast of Mike's request..."non-runny eggs". I cooked them until I thought we'd choke on them then served them up.  They passed muster...whew.  Then we kicked the kids out of the door and headed to Caribou where he got his free coffee.  We got to spend some time relaxing and reading and chatting.  Afterwards we decided to head out on a drive for wherever the wind decided to take us.  We love driving around and looking at houses and different areas so this was a treat - and I'm sure the kids were thrilled later to learn that they had missed out on it.

We had asked Mike what type of cake he had wanted.  He didn't have any huge suggestions, but mentioned that his mom had always made a "Cherry Chip" cake when he was little and he was sure it came out of a box.  I was pretty sure it didn't.  Maybe it did in 1977, but I'd never seen it.  A little Google search and Duncan Hines provided the recipe.  After chopping a half jar of maraschino cherries, and staining my fingers an awful shade of red, we had this:

A very manly pink cake.

We brought it downstairs and had the traditional singing...

The inside of the cake was pink too.  Mike later said he was surprised there was real cherries in it.  He didn't remember that from the cake of yesteryear...dried cherries, definitely, but not the real thing.  He said it tasted good and Maddie liked it a lot so...thank you, Duncan Hines!

Presents were next.  Really, Mike had already picked out his own presents...he outfitted his bar with a bunch of 5-gallon kegs and everything needed to run his taps.  However, we couldn't have a birthday without something  to open.

He really likes a certain brand of shirt and had pointed some sales out at the mall.  Maddie picked this gift out for him.

Jake wanted to get him a beer kit, but the yeast wasn't available so instead we got him a "growler".  This is a jug he can use to fill up with the beer on tap and take it to parties or down the street to the neighbor's on bonfire night.

Mike had spent the afternoon watching some t.v. show on Netflix that he's been trying to finish.  He was only too happy to spend the afternoon downstairs with the sound turned up (lots of special effects...) and nobody around ( to make comments on what a ridiculous show it was.  He even kicked the kids out when they started hanging out and wondering what he was watching.  Some definite "me" time for him.

Happy Birthday, Mike!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall Brews

We are really pushing to finish our basement.  We are so tired of having a bunch of little and big things left to do.  We were hoping to finish it this summer, but orders got delayed and life happened on weekends and things got pushed back.  BUT...we've set a new deadline and we've been working little by little nights and weekends to get things done!

One of the first, and major things that needed to happen was to make some beer.  What?  You question our priority list?  Keep in mind that beers generally take a few weeks to ferment.  (Brew?  Cure?  Clueless.)  We are having a party in early December and Mike wanted his taps in working order.

A couple weekends ago he spent an entire Sunday afternoon and night - until about midnight - working on two different beer batches.  Our house smelled so bad.  I finally ditched being a friendly coworker and headed upstairs where I could sit by an open window and breath again.

You'll notice the word above "Fuggle".  Here's the back-story.  Years ago when our children were MUCH smaller and had bigger ears and couldn't distinguish between repeatable words and not-repeatable words, Mike learned how to make beer.  I don't know if one day he burned himself or what, but he was about to utter some not-repeatable words but saw a set of little ears and caught himself.  Later he told me we needed a word that between us, we would know it's meaning to be not good, but that if the kids repeated, we wouldn't feel bad because it really meant nothing.  As he was working on his brew he came across "Fuggle". He decided right then that that would be our word.  And it has been ever since.  Try it sometime.  When you really want to throw out a very not-repeatable word...yell, "FUGGLE!"  If it's really serious you can say, "FFFFF-UUU-GGGLE!!!"  Or clench your teeth and, "fuggle."  It's a wonderful word - it's akin to being as awesome as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Whew...I am not spell-checking that.

Mike's bar was built with three taps.  The kids and I convinced him that one of his brews should be Root Beer.  How awesome would that be to always have root beer on tap!?!  He relented and gave up one of his beloved taps and after an exhaustive search for what may be the best home brew root beer he settled on this:

Apparently you can buy it at Cub, but he made it before I got a chance to get there and pick some up to taste test.

The recipe?  Root Beer syrup and water.  The dog was only too happy with some stray drops.

This is the canister that holds the Root Beer.  They are fairly tall and there are three of them sitting in his bar area.  We spent last Friday at the Home Brew store getting CO2 tanks filled and some other necessary stuff to make our Root Beer Float dreams a success.

I've learned a great deal about "Forced Carbonation" and 40PSI levels to start then getting things to an 8PSI level to is a hobby I will never understand, but one I'm glad he thoroughly enjoys.

We desperately hope the Root Beer tastes good and not like Root Beer Barrel candies.  Otherwise you may hear a quartet of "F-U-GGLE."

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Day

Today was my birthday and what fun day it was!

It started extra early as Maddie and her friend had to be on the road to school by 6:45 for choir.  She gave me a big hug this morning with the question, "How do you feel???"  She's expecting Mike and I to start walking stooped over soon.

After dropping off the kids Mike and I headed to Caribou to get my free drink!  Hooray Caribou!  Then we drove to Edina where I wanted to look through a couple stores that I hadn't been in and was curious about.  Store #1 - closed for 45 minutes more by the time we got there.  Store #2 - Container Store where I got some boxes to hold my future reincarnated stamp collection.  Store #3 - Trader Joe's.  When we realized this was just a grocery store we were out of there pretty fast.  Store #4 - Closed.  Or else the door wasn't working - the guy we saw walk in had to pry the doors open so we just assumed he worked there.  Boo.

But, then it was off to run some much needed errands for our basement and Mike took me out to lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant - El Toro.  We celebrated a little extra than most days we dine there...

The rest of the afternoon was spent lounging around and then I taught.  After dinner we headed downstairs where I got to open my presents at the bar while Mike worked on grouting and the kids looked on.  Jake was the official photographer.

I got a massive box of Jr. Mints which are my favorite candy.  It also happens to be loved by my children so I'm glad they got the big box.

When I finally got through to the inside of this box I found the present I have been waiting (and not-so-secretly) for...Photoshop Elements 11!!!

I believe it was right after I bought my new computer about six months ago that I started massively dropping hints that THIS was what I wanted for my birthday.

Then Mike asked for a list (which I normally give with pictures/prices/locations just to be clear).  There was only one picture on my list: Photoshop Elements 11.

Then last week when he asked again I straight out informed him that if I didn't get this most requested of all gifts I would be a very sad girl.  I even offered that it could double as my Christmas gift.  Wait...I don't think I did offer that.  But I would have if I felt it truly necessary.

What was an extra special surprise was that last Friday while we were unloading things from the car Mike asked me to check the front door for any deliveries.  We had been having bar/basement stuff delivered all week and it had been raining so I assumed he didn't want anything to get extra wet if it was there.

I rounded the corner and saw...a new monitor for me!  I had thrown this into a conversation a couple weeks ago as a "someday I would like..." gift.  It's so awesome!!! It's HUGE compared to my teeny laptop (which really isn't teeny at all).  But, it's a monitor geared more toward photo-enthusiasts so there are some differences which are too much to explain - even for my wordiness.  Suffice to say it's AWESOME.  I love it.

So, the blog has suffered lately because I frankly did not want to upload pictures and resize them on the tiny (really...12 inch!) monitor circa 1992 in Mike's office.  When he wasn't in there, it was late and I was tired and lazy.  I have TONS of pictures I want to play around with and tons of things to update and now I can do it anytime!!

So...I had an awesome day.  But, I have an awesome family to thank for it.  Even without the presents they made me feel really special and I love them for it.

But the presents aren't a bad thing to accompany that (wink, wink)!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Silent Auction

Yesterday Jake and I were making applesauce and Mike came home from a meeting.  Jake asked how his lunch went and there was no answer.  I thought I heard Jake say, "I guess we're getting the silent auction."

Mike came back a few minutes later and I asked how his afternoon had gone.  Again...Mike walked away without an answer.  I distinctly heard Jake say, "Dad is DEFINITELY giving us the silent auction."

That's when I realized what he was trying to say.  I told him the term was "Silent Treatment".  Dad was giving us the silent treatment.  Then I explained what a silent auction was and the light dawned in Jake's eyes.

And Mike wasn't giving us the silent treatment.  I think he was trying to get some things into the house quickly and get back downstairs in time for another meeting and just plain wasn't paying any attention to us.

At least we are giving him the benefit of the doubt on that one...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Keeping Preoccupied

Last week Maddie had some pretty awful stomach issues.  She missed most of the week of school and by Friday - other than her stomach - I think she was bored out of her mind and had slept enough to catch up on the next three years.

Enter: Craft Friday.

I found this website that morning and KNEW this would be something that could keep her immobile enough and busy enough to not go completely numb in the brain.

I went to Joanne's and bought four fat quarters of the different colors and styrofoam balls.  Can I just say I thought balls made of air would be far cheaper than they were.

For the next couple hours she and I worked together.  I ripped strips of fabric and she hot glued them onto the stryofoam.  Then she cut out little faces for these balls and we realized that left-handed scissors are pretty handy to have.  Too bad we didn't have any.

[Housekeeping note: please ignore the dust.  We ran out of swiffers that week and I was too lazy to pull out the Pledge.)

We ended up with:




and KATniss:

Maddie and Mike's favorite is the mummy.  Jake and I are partial to Frankie.

Maddie and I were super excited over them and still get giggly over how much we love them when we enter the room.  Despite feeling was a fun afternoon and some good girl time for us!