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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Dreaded Grocery Store Trip

For about three weeks I've avoided the big grocery store trip. You know, the one where you have the long list of items and it takes you forever to do the shopping. I've made a few trips here and there for things like milk, bread, bananas, and such. So tonight I finally decided it was time to hit Meijer and get the grocery shopping done. I had my list made this morning, got all my coupons out that I was going to use, and was all set so I could get in and out of Meijer in a reasonable amount of time. I had planned to go after dinner by myself because Em was still napping (she had a late nap today), and I figured I could be faster "sans" kids and they could stay home with Greg. Then as I was getting ready to leave Em woke up in a super crabby crying mood. She didn't want to let go of mommy and finally the only thing to get her to stop was when I asked her if she wanted to go to the store and look at the fish and toys. She stopped crying and was ready to go when she heard that. So if I was hauling her along that meant Greg and Evan were coming. I figured he could take her to look at the fish and toys while I grocery shopped. Why not kill two birds with one stone, right?

We got to Meijer and I had something to return so while I did that Greg and the kids did the bottle returns for me. I hate doing them because I can't stand the smell in the bottle/can area. Plus the machines go way to slow. Such a pain. So that worked out well because I did my return and started grocery shopping while they were doing the bottles. I was moving along through the store just fine. Then Greg and the kids found me and there was a bag of those small sized pop cans that the machine wouldn't take so I had to try and find someone to help me out in bottles. Well, of course trying to find someone in Meijer to help you is next to impossible. By the time someone came, I could of seriously done 1/3 of my shopping and come back before the bottle person got there.

Once that was taken care of, I continued on with my shopping and once again was doing fine. Then I got to the deli and I swear the two ladies working behind the counter moved slower than a snail. I just wanted to get home, and had Evan not been asking me all week to get some chicken deli meat all week I probably would've skipped it. I promised him I'd get the kind he likes when I went to the store so I waited it out. Finally it was my turn, I got my chicken and then thought I might as well get some ham too so I can make the ham & cheese crescent rolls this weekend. Wouldn't you know it, the ham had to be sliced because they were out. So the lady starts slicing it and right after me another customer asked for the same thing. The lady waiting on me decides she'll slice some for her too which was fine, until she gives the other deli lady my ham to give to the other customer. Are you serious? I've already waited like 15 minutes and now I have to wait longer because she gives the ham she sliced for me to someone else. Just my luck. I was seriously beginning to think we were going to spend the night at Meijer.

Finally we made it to the check out, and thank goodness Greg was with me because he scanned the groceries while I bagged them. Some of you might not like the U-Scan, but I love it! I always go to the U-Scan. I seriously don't remember the last time I was at Meijer and went through a regular check out. I like my groceries bagged a certain way, (that must be from my days when I worked as a bagger at a grocery store while in high school) so that's why I go to the U-Scan. Plus half the time the cashiers at Meijer seem to be very unfriendly and I can't stand it so I'd rather not deal with them. Finally after an hour and a half we got out of there. Ugh! There went our evening. Exciting huh? Thank goodness I got some good deals. I think almost everything I got was on sale, and I saved $16 with coupons so that was nice. Not to mention usually I go into Meijer and come out with spending $100 easily. Today I only spent $86 so that was a bonus! Now I know why I was dreading the grocery store trip!

Now, I'm off to bed because it's been a long day and I'm tired. I feel like I didn't really have an evening and probably won't have much of one tomorrow. We've got Evan's school fall social tomorrow evening (weather permitting) and I'm doing the single parent thing because Greg has to work late. But before I leave you, I wanted to share a new recipe I tried tonight that I thought was pretty good. The recipe actually calls for it to be cooked in a slow cooker for 5 hours, but I tried it in the oven instead and it seemed to come out fine.

Meatloaf with Mozzarella, Mushrooms, & Pepperoni

Ingredients:

2 slices white sandwich bread (I used 1/4 cup bread crumbs)
1 1/2 lbs. ground sirloin
1 1/2 cups finely chopped button mushrooms ( I used a 4oz. can of mushrooms and chopped them)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup finely chopped pepperoni
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 Tbsp. ketchup

Directions:
  1. Tear bread into large pieces and blend in a food processor until they form fine crumbs. (or use 1/4 cup of bread crumbs)
  2. Combine crumbs, sirloin, mushrooms, mozzarella, pepperoni, oregano, garlic, salt, and eggs in a large bowl and mix gently with your hands to combine.
  3. Put in a 9x5 bread pan.
  4. Brush meatloaf with ketchup.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until center is not pink. (or put in a slow cooker and cover and cook on low for about 5 hours)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pizza Casserole

I made this recipe last week and I meant to post it then, but keep forgetting until now. (I've been a little busy readers.) So now that I'm off duty for library cart this week (Finally I get a break! Getting everything off and running and doing the library cart two weeks in a row with a two year old was kicking my butt.) I thought it was a good time to share it with all of you. This is a recipe that goes way back to when I was a kid. I'm talking like when I was probably seven or eight. My Grandma Stamp (my mom's mom) who passed away thirteen years ago, lived in Arizona and she and my Grandpa used to come visit us in Michigan every summer for a few weeks. Every time my Grandma would visit us, she would always make this recipe for my sister and I. It was one of our favorites and still is to this day. I've been making it for many years now myself and I've gotten my kids hooked on it too. They gobble it up! She also got my sister and I started on Tomato soup with macaroni in it. The first time I made it with Greg he thought I was weird. That's what my sister and I thought too when my Grandma would make it until we tried it! It's really good, you should try it. Guess what folks? I've gotten my kids hooked on that too! So back to the casserole, I'm not sure why it's called pizza casserole, because it's more like spaghetti, but probably because of the pepperoni and mushrooms in it. It's really easy to make and it's one of those great meals you can make ahead of time (even the night before) and then just pop in the oven a half hour before you're ready to eat!

Pizza Casserole

Ingredients:
1 package pepperoni (4oz.) (You can also use turkey pepperoni)
1 med. onion chopped fine (I usually don't use the onion because Greg doesn't like onions)
1/3 cup margarine (melted)
8 oz. thin spaghetti cooked
1 cup (4oz.) each of grated Swiss and mozzarella cheese (of course I don't measure the cheese)
2 cans (8oz. each) tomato sauce ( I use one 15oz. can)
1 (4oz.) can mushrooms
1/2 tsp. Oregano
1/2 tsp. Basil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  1. Boil pepperoni for 5 minutes to get rid of grease (drain in colander)- I do this while the spaghetti is boiling.
  2. If use onions saute for 5 minutes
  3. Toss spaghetti in margarine in 11x17 pan
  4. Cover spaghetti with 1 can (or half of 15oz. can) of tomato sauce.
  5. Add in half of the following ingredients- pepperoni, Swiss, mushrooms, and mozzarella, and sprinkle with all of the Oregano and Basil.
  6. Top with other can (or half can) of tomato sauce.
  7. Add remaining other half of ingredients, finishing with mozzarella on top.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.
Enjoy!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Boys Went Camping

As I mentioned the other day, the boys went camping on Saturday. It was sort of a last minute thing that Greg had talked about with our neighbor Rich the week before. Then it got put aside, and Friday Greg talked to Rich again and the camping idea was on again. Greg and Evan were going to go Friday night, but after working late, Greg decided to wait and go Saturday which worked out much better. The boys headed out Saturday afternoon. Greg was going to wait until the game was over, but decided otherwise when the Spartans weren't looking good.

They went back to Sleepy Hollow where they went on their first camping expedition back in May. Evan was really excited to go back there! I wasn't really sure if it was the best idea since Evan had a little cold, but they wanted to go so I was outvoted. Rich and his daughter Veronica were there with another guy and his daughter so they all hung out together and went fishing, biking, and ate around the campfire. Here's some of the pictures from their fun night of camping!

First things first, they got the tent set up right away! I'm not sure what the look is on Ev's face, but I do know I told him and Greg to make sure Evan had his coat on because it was chilly and of course he doesn't! Boys, men, they never listen!

Of course what did Evan want to do the most? Ride his bike! So here he is in the tent getting all geared up! That boy loves to have his bike clothes on like Daddy!

And he's off into the woods! (Woo Hoo they remembered the coat this time!)

A little iPod time before bed!

I think this shot was taken for me. "Yes, Daddy is letting me go to bed with chocolate all over my face!"

They made this banana dessert over the campfire that Evan said was really good. It was a banana cut open in the peel with peanut butter chips and chocolate pieces, and marshmallows. You put all the toppings on the banana, wrap it up in foil and put over the fire and then eat it right out of the peel. Sounds yummy. Makes me want to go camping! Well, not quite yet. The sleeping on the hard ground didn't sound too appealing!

Here's Evan cooking the pancakes Sunday morning. Greg said he did a great job flipping them!

The boys had a good time and Evan was sure to tell me all about it. He really likes camping with Daddy. It's definitely the last time for the year since I'm sure there's not too many warm days left. I know Evan's looking forward to more camping next year! Maybe I'll go next year, we'll see! And of course now today guess who is sick even more? Yes, my little guy has a cough and runny nose! I kept him home from school today so he wouldn't get worse or get the kids at school sick.

I'll leave you with one of the videos that Greg took of Evan when they were out on the trails riding bikes. I can't believe my kid is riding up and down these hills with no fear at four years old! Way to go Ev! Mommy is super proud of you, as I know Daddy is too! You've done so great on your bike throughout the summer after learning to ride without training wheels, and keep getting better! Awesome job!

video

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Trip To The Cider Mill

It was a gorgeous fall day today and ended up being the perfect weather for our trip to the cider mill! This was the playdate/outing I had planned about a month ago for Em, and her friends. Only two of her friends could make it today, Lucia and Maddie. This wasn't a normal playdate since we were going somewhere so we invited Dads and siblings too. So Evan and Greg came along with Em and I, and Lucia, her mom Carmen and dad Tony, and Maddie and her mom Dawn. We left about 11am and had a caravan out to the cider mill. Since Greg and Evan went camping last night they just met us there.

We went to Uncle John's Cider Mill in St. Johns. It's an annual tradition to visit Uncle John's at least once, but usually two or three times in the fall. We've been to a few other cider mills in the Lansing area, but Uncle John's seems to have the best donuts and cider so we keep going back there. This weekend was Kid Fest so they had some extra activities going on. We hit the play area where they had a little train ride for kids. Em was the only one that wanted to ride the train. I was really surprised she didn't want to get off after we put her in the seat or cry once the train started moving. She gave us all a good laugh because she went right to the first seat, sat down, grabbed on, and didn't move the whole entire time the train was moving. She wouldn't move her hands, smile for the camera, or look at any of us the whole time.

This was her pose when she started...

This was her pose when she finished!

It really was too funny. Finally we got this little smirk out of her! What a kid! After the train ride, we headed over to the bale maze. This was a maze geared for younger kids so it was perfect! The kids had fun running through the maze, bouncing on the bouncy balls, and walking along the bales of hay. Here's a few pics from the maze.

Emmaline chasing after her brother through the maze
Emmaline on the bouncy ball
Evan on the bouncy ball
Peeking through the haunted house
All the kids walking along the bales of hay

From there we hopped on the wagon ride and headed out to the pumpkin patch. All the kids thoroughly enjoyed walking around the patch and picking out pumpkins!

On the wagon heading out to the pumpkin patch
Em went right for the big pumpkin, but needed some help from brother. It was a no go. We said if they couldn't lift it we couldn't get it!
Later on Em found a pumpkin that was more her size
Evan picked out his very own pumpkin! He went out far in the patch to find it!
Em was having so much fun she was just picking up pumpkins and putting them in the wagon. (We didn't get all these, but it was just too cute so I let her pull them around.) Believe it or not, Emmaline was actually able to pull this full wagon...
...but then it got to be too much so she decided to push it!

We were out in the pumpkin patch for quite some time. By the time we got back up by the cider mill the crowd had increased! Lucia headed home because it was her nap time. Maddie & Dawn and Em & I grabbed a hot dog for lunch (the boys already had eaten) and then we got some cider and donuts and called it a day at the cider mill. The girls were ready for naps too so we headed home. Em fell asleep on the way home and then slept some more after we got home. We all had a great time and it was the perfect way to spend a gorgeous fall afternoon! We look forward to heading back probably one more time this fall!

This post got a little long, so I'll tell you all about Greg and Evan's camping trip tomorrow.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ready For The Weekend

After sitting outside at the garage sale for two days, I'm ready for the weekend! Looks like I lucked out with the weather for the sale and had two beautiful days! Yesterday ended up not being that great of a day for the sale and it was pretty much dead until 11am. Then it picked up in spurts again. I did get rid of a lot more of Evan's clothes so that part was good. Now it's time to pack up the stuff and get the garage back to normal. I'm done with garage sales for the year and ready to have this stuff out of my garage! I'm thinking September isn't the best month for garage sales. Thanks, to my mom for coming to help with the sale and kids. They enjoyed spending some time with Grandma. Thanks for dinner at Champps and ice cream at the Dairy Store too! Yum-o!

I closed up shop yesterday early because it was slow, and came inside to tend to some house things since I hadn't done anything inside for two days. Then about 3:30pm I decided I was going to whip up some homemade cupcakes for my friend Dawn's birthday. Dawn is Em's friend Maddie's mom. Friday was her birthday, and her husband Dave does a MSU football show so he was off to Wisconsin for the game. I thought, "what a bummer to be alone on your birthday" so I told her I'd come down for a drink last night after she was done working. I decided to bring along the cupcakes as a little surprise! I even put pink frosting on them since Dawn loves the color pink! I told our friend Jessica to come over too, and then our friend Ahna ended up being there as well. It was nice to just have some girl time and relax. And a Mike's Hard Lemonade doesn't hurt to go along with it! Hope you had a nice birthday Dawn! Happy Birthday!

Today brings the game, and I think the boys are headed out camping this afternoon (they were supposed to go last night, but ended up staying home) so looks like it will be just Emme and me! What should we do??? Tomorrow we're headed to the cider mill for Em's playdate/outing, weather permitting. I'll be sure to let you know all about it. Em is very excited to hang with her friends (and get some cider and donuts)! Other than that, looks like a good weekend to finally chill and relax! Enjoy this last weekend of September readers because October is fast approaching next week!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Garage Sale #3

Today marks my third garage sale of the year. I haven't had a sale on a Thursday so thought I'd give it a whirl and do Thursday and Friday instead of Friday and Saturday. After all, Saturday is football day and I have to cheer on my Spartans. I'm officially over the loss from last weekend. It's time to move on and hope for the best as the Big Ten season gets underway! Anyway, back to the sale news. The morning didn't start off too bad, but then it slowed down. It went in spurts most of the day. The afternoon was pretty dead. Here's hoping tomorrow is a lot better because as we all know garage sales are a lot of work! Today wasn't bad, but not great! The pricing, setting up, organizing, etc. takes time and I'm hoping I didn't do it all a third time for nothing. Although most of the stuff was priced from my earlier sales. I just had to price the new clothes I added that I had cleaned out of the closets, plus a few random items that apparently lost their sticker in between packing up before and putting back out. So overall, the pricing was minimal, the most time consuming part was setting it all out in an organized way.

My mom came to help me with the kids and the sale so for lunch today I tried something new. My friend Ann posted a recipe last week on her blog for Chicken Caesar Wraps which sounded really good to me. Since Greg doesn't like any kind of salad stuff, I thought today would be the perfect time to try them since my mom was here. They were absolutely delicious! I can see myself making them again in the near future. So fast, easy, and tasty! My kind of recipe! So Ann, I'm stealing your recipe and posting it on my blog too because I feel it's a worthy recipe to share!


Chicken Caesar Wraps

Prep 10 minutes | Makes 4 servings

3 cups shredded romaine lettuce
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (I used the bacon bits in a bag that you find in the salad aisle at the grocery store)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup croutons (buy the small ones or break up larger ones)
1/2 cup classic Caesar dressing
4 flour tortillas (8 inch)

Place the first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Add dressing; toss lightly. Spoon onto tortillas; roll up.

The recipe also suggests that you could make this using ranch dressing instead of Caesar if you wanted. And they recommend wrapping the tortillas in paper towels and microwaving them on high 30 seconds or just until warm to make the tortillas easier to roll and avoid cracking. I also poked a toothpick in mine to hold them together until it was time to eat them.

If you're making for just a couple people just halve the recipe!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Crescent Roll-Ups

Once in awhile I get emails from Pillsbury, Kraft, or Jif that have recipes. Sometimes I look at them, sometimes I don't. Last month I got an email from Pillsbury and it was titled "30 minutes or less dinners." The title caught my eye because these days with two busy bees keeping me busy, I'm all about the fast, easy dinners! This email is also where I got the Meatball Pops recipe from, and there was also another one that popped out at me to try.

Who loves a good hot ham and cheese sandwich? Well I do, and if you're like me then you're going to love this recipe I came across. I really don't know that it qualifies as a recipe, because it's simply throwing three things together. It's not a recipe to me in the way of, I'd write the ingredients down on a recipe card and put in my recipe box. However, I'm calling it a recipe because it came from the Pillsbury recipe box. It really is something quite simple that I can't believe I haven't tried before. Instead of throwing some ham and cheese on bread and grilling it in a pan, you put the ingredients in a crescent roll and roll it up and put it in the oven! Easy, Fast, and Delicious! We've made the ham and cheese roll-ups a few times, but tonight we tried making it with turkey instead of ham! Just as good, and a great way to switch it up once in awhile! Here's a picture of the ham and cheese roll-ups taken from the Pillsbury site. I did take a picture of my turkey and cheese roll-ups tonight, but once again my picture didn't do the food justice!



INGREDIENTS

1can (8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
8thin slices cooked ham (8 oz)
4thin slices Cheddar cheese (4 oz), each cut into 4 strips

(I just use ham or turkey from the deli, and I take cheese slices and break them in half and use one half on a crescent roll.)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Separate dough into 8 triangles. Place 1 piece of ham on each triangle; place 2 strips of cheese down center of ham. Fold in edges of ham to match shape of dough triangle.
  2. Roll up each crescent, ending at tip of triangle. Place with tips down on ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake 15 to 19 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Serve warm.
I'm not sure what to really label this under, but since it's simple and easy I'm going to label it an appetizer because it's not really a ham or turkey DISH.

Happy Fall!

Today is officially the first day of fall, so happy fall everyone! It's the day of the year when we get equal parts of daylight and darkness. It's the day that is marked as the Autumnal Equinox, the sun crosses directly over the equator, and the earth doesn't tilt away from nor towards the sun, it's vertical! It's from this point forward that the days get shorter. The amount of daylight decreases and we see more dark than light. The autumnal equinox officially takes place at 5:18pm EDT, so hello fall, welcome today! Many people believe that at that time you can balance an egg on one end because gravity will be balanced. Is there any truth to this? I've never tried it, but many say there's no truth to it, and in fact with careful practice and some patience and egg can be balanced any day of the year!

As I become older, I've realized that as much as I hate for summer to come to an end, I really do like fall. I think fall is moving right up there with summer as my favorite season. The two might be about equal now. There's something about this time of the year that is pleasantly enjoyable! While I don't like that it gets dark so early, I do like many other parts of fall. The weather is usually enjoyable, the colors of the trees are absolutely beautiful, it's cider & donut time, it's football season, the fall decor is beautiful with pumpkins, gourds, leaves, etc. It's the time of year to take kids to the corn mazes and cider mill. It really is a beautiful time of year in Michigan, and I just love the colors on campus this time of year. I'm looking forward to heading to campus some weekend and taking some fall pictures of the kids!

As you can see from my fact today, my daughter slept until 11:30am. I heard her early this morning, but then she went back to sleep. I went in to get her around 10am and she was sleeping hard. I figured I'd let her sleep because she won't get a nap until late today because I've got library duty at Evan's school. So hopefully she'll be a happy camper and will be well rested for our afternoon at school. Now the question is, will she still take a nap late this afternoon. We'll see!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Not The Weekend I Hoped For

Wow! I really don't even know where to start with this post. I'm having a hard time getting over the huge Spartan loss on Saturday. How is it that a beautiful fall day that started out with sunshine, ended up being so gray and gloomy and it didn't even rain? I'll tell you... we Spartan fans headed into Spartan Stadium South with the same atmosphere as most of the past six wins there. The sun was shining, the fans were excited, the team was pumped, and the band was playing! Then the clouds rolled in and the thunder shook down from the sky and in a matter of three and a half hours, our hopes and dreams of another win in South Bend were over, crushed, finished, destroyed, kaput, not by the weather, but by the Notre Dame football team! It's definitely not the weekend I hoped for when we headed to Michiana, and speaking as a die hard Spartan football fan, it's going to take awhile to get over this one.

The Spartans didn't have a great start, but by half time they were up by one and our hopes were still alive. Then after four quarters of play and three minutes left, down by three, the Spartans moved the ball down the field. It was like some of the past wins at Notre Dame Stadium, and a come from behind win in the last seconds of the game was about to happen again! That's when the thunder shook down on the Spartans and after an interception, it just wasn't meant to be. No win for the Spartans, another loss in the books, and our six year winning streak in South Bend was over. I suppose when your teams travels with just the offense that's what the outcome is. MSU's defense was horrible, there were too many mistakes, and the offense just couldn't pull off a win by themselves. We need a full team to play in order to win so let's hope next week the whole team shows up for the game! I have to think it was time to be courteous and give the Irish back there Stadium. After all, it was beginning to look like the Spartans owned Notre Dame Stadium since they've won the past six times there. So as I try to move on from this horrible Spartan loss, I can only hope that things get better for the Spartans as the Big Ten season starts on Saturday. I'm trying to stay positive that my hopes for a great football season are not diminished yet, and we start to get some "W's" instead of more "L's."

The good news is that Greg and I got to enjoy some kid free time on Saturday at the game while the kids stayed with my sister and Kaite. Evan got to see his friend Mayci who lives next door to my sister. He was pretty excited about that, and he got to play the drums again at her house so that made his day! Em got to get spoiled by her Aunt Jen and cousin Kaite so she was happy. The kids got to go visit Nana while we were at the game too. Plus on Sunday before we headed home, we got a delicious brunch that my Step-Mom made. She made a Blueberry Stuffed French Toast that I've never had before, and it was yummy! I'm posting the recipe below because I think some of you may find it handy sometime. It's perfect for a brunch if you're having people over, or just for a weekend breakfast for the fam!

I'm going to leave you with a couple pictures from the game Saturday. I took some good pictures to share with you, but then after we walked out of there in low spirits, I lost the joy in sharing them. So instead, I'm posting a couple pictures of the Spartan Marching Band. I love to watch the band (It must be because of my high school days when I was a former band geek). They never seem to disappoint, unlike the football team!

This is what the drum major does at the beginning of every pregame show. I think it's quite impressive so that's why I'm posting it!

This is the band playing the oh so wonderful Michigan State Fight Song in the symbolic "S" formation!

Blueberry Cream French Toast

1 loaf Texas toast- cut into cubes (you can use a multi grain bread if you prefer & works fine)

1 8-ounce package cream cheese slightly softened

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries tossed lightly w/flour

Cinnamon

8 large eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

3/4 cups maple syrup

6 tablespoons butter-melted

Coat a 13-9 -2 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray

Layer one half of bread cubes in baking dish

Cut cream cheese into cubes and scatter over bread.

Layer blueberries over cream cheese and cover blueberries w/remaining bread

Sprinkle generously w/cinnamon

Mix remaining ingredients and pour over bread, press bread w/spatula to help soak up mixture

Cover and refrigerate over night

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, serves 8

Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired/ serve with maple syrup if desired

* You can substitute other fruits such as peaches or strawberries or a combo or blueberries and strawberries. (We had blueberries and strawberries mixed together and it was very good!)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Michiana... Really?

Well folks, we're off for the weekend to head to lovely Michiana! Yes, that's what I said Michiana! For those of you not familiar with the term, it's what the Michigan/Indiana area is called right by the border down by South Bend. As I mentioned before, Greg and I will be heading to the game tomorrow to cheer on my beloved Spartans. I really don't think I can take another loss this weekend, especially to Notre Dame! So here's hoping the team can pull off a fabulous victory and we can mark another "W" in the books. Remember all you UofM fans, you owe me some cheering this weekend so you better be pulling for the Spartans! Let's GO STATE! GO GREEN! GO WHITE!

We've got all our Spartan gear packed, Scooby Doo is ready to go along for the ride, and we'll be off shortly after Greg gets home from work. The car ride should be interesting seeing as Em has napped all afternoon so I'm pretty sure there won't be any sleeping in the car for her! Evan on the other hand may because my poor little guy woke up with the sniffles this morning and is all congested. He could use some rest! I guess that's what happens when you come home with the class pet that has been hanging with germ infested kids! Although he was starting to get that on the way to school yesterday so it probably wasn't from that. More like just being around a bunch of kids at school. Who knows!

Since my MacBook and I will be separated for the weekend, you probably won't be hearing from me again until Sunday. Hopefully, (keeping my fingers crossed and saying my prayers) that I'll have some good Spartan news to share with you! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend whatever it entails. Looks like the weather is going to be beautiful for a September weekend so be sure to enjoy it! Happy weekend all!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Scooby Doo

Today when I picked Evan up from school, I also picked someone else up. Evan got to bring the class pet, Scooby Doo home. The class has a stuffed animal that gets to go home with a different child each day. There is also a journal that goes home with the animal so the parents can write what the animal and the student's family did that night. Last year Evan's class had a brown and white dog that was named Lightning (Evan picked that name, after Lightning McQueen, and the kids voted for it). This year the class pet is a black dog, and the class chose the name Scooby Doo. It's only day three of Scooby Doo going home with the kids and Evan's name got picked!

When I pulled up to the circle to pick up Evan, I didn't even see that he had the backpack with the class pet. So when he opened the door and got in the car, the first thing he said was, "Mommy, I got to bring Scooby Doo home!" He was super excited and thought it was really cool. He was excited to show Emmaline and me what Scooby Doo looked like. Em absolutely loved Scooby Doo and her brother let her hold him in the car.

We had to make a Meijer stop on the way home, and Evan said Scooby Doo had to go in with us because he's never been to Meijer. We took Scooby Doo in and picked up the few things we needed. Along the way we passed by the pet section and Evan made a stop all on his own. I heard him talking to Scooby and he says, "We need to find you a bed Scooby, here try this one out!" This is what I saw:


This kid is always coming up with the most hilarious things. It didn't even take him anytime to think of this. The minute we got by the dog aisle he walked right to the dog beds. Crazy kid!

After dinner we made a run to the Tasty Twist for ice cream. I had promised Evan a trip there earlier in the week, and we hadn't gone yet so tonight we finally got the chance. Of course Scooby couldn't stay at home, so we took him with us because Evan said Scooby was hungry for ice cream too! Here's a few photos from our trip to the Tasty Twist!

All buckled up and ready to go!

Scooby Doo likes sprinkles on his ice cream too! Yum!

Since Evan doesn't have school on Fridays he gets to keep Scooby Doo for a few extra days. He's really excited about this because he didn't get Lightning over a weekend last year. So it looks like Scooby Doo will be heading to Aunt Jen's with Evan and the rest of us, and he's sure to have a long journal entry by Sunday!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'm On Overload

Do you ever feel like some days whip by and you don't even know where they went to? Then there are days that just drag on forever and seem like they're never going to end. Well, for about the last month or probably more I feel like these days have been whipping by. I would like to have one of those days that drags on forever or at least just slows down! How the heck is it the middle of September already? Seriously, July flew by, then August flew by (basically the summer flew by), and now September is going to be over before we know it! Our weekends have been jam packed lately and now it seems like the weekdays are becoming the same way. Two weekends have flown by in September and we've had something going every weekend and these last two weekends aren't going to be any different! More on that in a minute.

Here it is Wednesday already and I can't believe it. It's been another busy week and yesterday ended up being a jam packed day. I was going non-stop for almost 6 hours with two kids in tow part of the time, and Em in tow the whole time. Back up a couple days to Sunday, and this is why yesterday ended up being unexpectedly busy. Sunday afternoon while we were at the Music School we noticed that Em's earlobe looked a little infected around her earring. When we got home we went to clean it right away and it wasn't a little infected, it was A LOT infected. I'll spare you the gross details, but it wasn't pretty. I'm not sure what happened because she had a bath that morning and it was fine, then she took a nap and we went to the Music School. Anyway, after almost losing the earring in her lobe and a ton of blood, I got the earring out. I cleaned the ear several times and the earring, put Neosporin on it, and finally later that night got the earring back in. So Monday I called the doctor just to see if there was something else I should do. I didn't really know if I should leave the earring out or keep it in. The nurse thought she should come in Tuesday to see the doctor. So while, I already had a semi busy Tuesday planned, now I had to add a doctor's appointment on top of it.

So now back to yesterday. I had to take her to the doctor in the morning which ended up taking awhile because it always takes awhile at the doctor's office. You end up waiting longer than you're actually in seeing the doctor! When we finally go out of there, it was after noon and I didn't have much time to go home and get Evan lunch and to school on time. So we made a drive thru run at McDonald's and ate in the car on the way to school. After dropping Evan off at school, Em and I had to run to Target and pick up a prescription the doctor gave her for her ear. We had just enough time to get to Target and back to school by 2pm so I could do library cart for the afternoon classes. This was the first day of library for the kiddos so they were super excited! Em made herself right at home in the classrooms (of course) and was a busy little bee doing things the kids were doing. After an hour at school getting the library cart done, I had to run to City Hall to fill out the entry form and release forms for the photos I submitted for the contest. By the time I finished that, there wasn't enough time to go home before picking up Evan. So we headed back by school to wait until school was out. Finally by the time we got home after 4pm, I was exhausted and Em finally got a nap. What a day! Hauling a two year old in and out of the car and up and down the stairs at school is tiring! Thank goodness it was pizza night for the school and I didn't have to cook dinner! For all you locals, if you want a night free from cooking, order pizza from Marcos (on Lake Lansing/Abbott) every third Tuesday of the month. Tell them your with the MSU CDL (even if you're not) and 15% of your purchase goes to the CDL Parent Council. You're helping out a great organization, AND you don't have to cook dinner!

I sure would like to think the rest of the week is going to slow down, but I know it's not going to. We're heading south this weekend for the MSU-ND game that I mentioned a couple days ago so that means I have to do laundry and pack between tomorrow and Friday so we're all ready to go on Friday after Greg gets out of work. Plus I'm going to have another go at a garage sale next week so that means I need to start getting everything set up tomorrow and Friday since the weekend is shot. Then I'll have a couple days next week to finish up if need be.

The garage sale is going to be next Thursday and Friday and possibly part of Saturday. So that's sure to take up a few days. Then next Sunday Em has a playdate. Awhile back I thought it was probably time to start the playdates up again since we've taken a little break over the summer. However instead of a playdate at the house, I've planned a playdate outside while the weather is still somewhat decent. I thought it would be fun for Em and her friends (siblings & dads can come too) to go to the cider mill and go on a wagon ride to the pumpkin patch and do a maze. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate! So there's the rest of our September! I feel like it's already October after having just talked about all that! The good news is that Em's ear is already looking better and with the prescription it seems to have healed tremendously overnight! I definitely feel like I'm on overload, and look forward to some nice relaxing family time just staying home whenever that may be!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mission Accomplished

Yesterday I had a busy day and evening so I didn't get a chance to blog or fun fact like I wanted to. I had a doctor's appointment in the afternoon so my mom came to watch Em for me. Evan was in school and Em actually slept most of the time so my mom just had to hold down the fort. I was able to run some errands kid free before and after the doctor, thanks to my mom so that was nice. I just can't tell you enough, how much faster it is without hauling one or two kids into stores. Of course, you probably know that if you're a mom and ever run errands without kids. Then before my mom left we all went to Champps for dinner (one of my favorite restaurants). They have half off burgers on Monday and half off appetizers everyday until 7pm so a great deal for dinner. Thanks mom for dinner.

Then last night I got busy on the computer. You would think since I was on the computer I'd be able to blog, but I was busy with other things. The City of East Lansing is holding a photo contest for their 2010 calendar and the deadline is today at 5pm. This is something the city offers each year to anyone who is interested in entering. The picture just has to have been taken in the E. Lansing community. Earlier in the summer I decided that I was going to submit some photos this year and see if I get lucky and one gets picked for the calendar. So of course me being the procrastinator that I am, I've had ample time to get my photos submitted, decided to wait until last night to do it. So it took me a good chunk of the evening to search through my photos and get them submitted. So now I have to sit back and wait to see if one gets selected! I'll keep you posted when I find out. Keep your fingers crossed!

So that's my excuse for no blog yesterday. Then last night I realized, that I've sort of left you faithful readers hanging with news about my lamps. Back in July I told you that I had been on a lamp mission for about three months. Then at the beginning of August I told you I had found a lamp on sale at Meijer. I liked the lamp, but I didn't love it. Plus I couldn't find a shade to go with it. Fast forward a couple weeks later, and I found some lamp shades at HomeGoods when shopping with my friend Ann. (Actually she spotted them for me.) When I brought them home though, I wasn't sure if I liked the shades with the lamp that I got from Meijer. After looking at the shade and lamp for a couple weeks, both Greg and I decided that they didn't really fit well together. I knew we were headed to the Outlet Mall and HomeGoods Labor Day weekend so I figured I better either find some lamps by then or I needed to take the shades back to HomeGoods when we went. Well, on one of my many trips to Meijer in the past couple weeks, I found a different lamp! It wasn't on sale, but I thought I'd pick one up to try. Greg and I both agreed we liked lamp #2 better than lamp #1. It's a lot more sturdy and also looks better with the shades I got at HomeGoods, bonus! So after another trip to Meijer to return the first lamp, I purchased a second matching lamp to lamp #2. So now readers, we're in business. Let there be light in the living room now because after five months of my lamp mission, it's mission accomplished!

To refresh your memory... here's what the old lamps looked like.

Here's what the new lamps look like!
What do you think? I like them and am happy with my purchase. You know how you have something for so long and then after you get something new you think, "Gosh, those were ugly. How did I live with those for so long?" Well, that's how I feel with the lamps. I used to really like the old lamps, but now looking at them, I think they look old and outdated. After all, they were eight years old! The first lamp I found also had the spiral design too, and I think we're just over that design and that's why we didn't like them so much. These are much more our style! It's nice to have some new lamps finally, and I'm sure in eight years when I'm ready for new lamps again, I'll think these lamps are ugly. But for now, I really like them and am happy with my find!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Free Music Class

Friday at bunco, my friend Carla was telling me that the MSU Community Music School was having an open house and free music class today. Remember back in May when we were tourists in our town and went to the Music School? The kids loved it and had fun checking out the instruments so I figured, why not go again. Plus the free music class to check out was a great added bonus! We've been thinking about putting one or both of the kids in a music class at some point, so we thought this was a great opportunity to check it out. So off we went this afternoon to explore some instruments and music! Here's some pictures from our afternoon.

Emmaline trying out the violin...doesn't she look so cute?

Once again he had some wind and made a very loud sound come out of the saxophone!

Emmaline playing a tune on the piano!

Evan wanted to try the flute since mommy used to play it!

Of course it wouldn't be a complete visit if Evan didn't play the drums!

My friend Carla (she teaches one of the classes at the school)

Evan and Em following along to Miss Carla's instructions in the music class.

It was a fun afternoon and the kids enjoyed themselves. I'm glad we went. It's so fun to see them try new things!

My Little Spartans

Yesterday as you all probably know, was not a good day for us Spartans. What a huge disappointment to lose to CMU in the final seconds of the game. Way way way in the back of my mind all week I was thinking, the Chips might be a tough game for the Spartans and there's a chance they could get beat. However, I was trying to think positive so I stopped thinking about it and really did think MSU was going to come away with another win on Saturday. That wasn't the case when the stupid defense went off sides giving the Chips a second chance at a field goal and moving it five yards closer. Seriously players, you just gave them the win. It's not Christmas! No time for gifts in Spartan Stadium or elsewhere! Ugh! My green & white blood is now green & white tears! So sad readers, so sad! I'm really kicking myself too because I didn't hang the flag out yesterday so that's probably another reason they lost! I really need to get with it and make sure I've got it out from now on.

Well, with every MSU loss comes a UofM win it seems. Yesterday I didn't mind so much though because as much as I don't like UofM, I don't like Notre Dame either. Although I grew up with Notre Dame football and my family are Notre Dame fans, once I went to MSU it was no more Notre Dame for me. I still can't believe I used to be a huge ND fan! And now ever since they hired Charlie Weis, I really can't stand them. Not to mention the fact that they were #18 in the polls this week. Come on, seriously! They were way way overrated. So anyway, I was pulling for the Wolverines this one time only and they pulled it off in the final minutes of the game. So all you UofM fans that are reading... you owe me one and need to cheer for my Spartans next week when they head to South Bend to take on the Irish!

So as, I'm trying to get over my mourning of the Spartan loss, I realized readers I forgot to post some pictures from last weekend. Take a look!




Emmaline and her buddy Chloe in their matching outfits

O.k., I must be getting old or losing it. How, oh how, could I forget to post these pictures of my cute little Spartans? I have no clue, but thank goodness I remembered because they really are too cute not to share! So there you have it readers. It's time to get over the loss. It is what it is. MSU blew it and didn't deserve to win. So now it's on to Saturday's game against the Irish, and guess what? Greg & I are heading to Spartan Stadium South (a.k.a. Notre Dame Stadium) to cheer on the Spartans! MSU has won the past six times on the road at Notre Dame, hence the Spartan Stadium South, so it's crucial we get a win on Saturday. Thanks to my Dad for giving us his tickets. He's got to be out of town for work so he said we could have the tickets. Looking forward to the game and a WIN! LET'S GO STATE!

* I 've posted the pumpkin bar recipe on yesterdays blog that I promised. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dips, Bars, & Punch

CARAMEL APPLE DIP
  • 8oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 jar caramel ice cream topping
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • nuts (topping)
Combine first 3 ingredients in bowl and mix with a hand mixer. Pour into serving bowl and top with nuts. Serve with apple slices.

PUMPKIN DIP
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon frozen orange juice concentrate
In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gradually mix in the pumpkin. Stir in the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and orange juice until smooth and well blended. Chill until serving.

COLD JOHNNY APPLESEED PUNCH

1 qt apple cider
1 qt gingerale
1 cup orange juice

Chill all ingredients. Mix before serving.

Click here for EL AZTECO CHEESE DIP

PUMPKIN BARS
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir into the pumpkin mixture until thoroughly combined.
  3. Spread the batter evenly into an ungreased 10x15 inch jellyroll pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in preheated oven. Cool before frosting.
  4. To make the frosting, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Stir in vanilla. Add confectioners' sugar a little at a time, beating until mixture is smooth. Spread evenly on top of the cooled bars. Cut into squares.

Red Wine & Bunco

Happy Saturday my faithful readers, I've returned! Sorry I've been M.I.A these past couple days. It's been yet another busy week and I'm looking forward to a relaxing day of watching football! Here's a few highlights of Thursday, and then I'll fill you in on Bunco last night. Thursday, I tackled the junk drawer and finally cleaned it out. It was really overdue, as the drawer was getting hard to close. It's nice to be able to find things again in there! Evan had his second day of school Thursday and he did fabulous! He had a great day and is really enjoying being back in school. I had errands to run on Thursday while Evan was at school so Em did not get a nap until after 4pm when we got home from school. She ended up sleeping until 7:30pm for her nap. Surprisingly she went back to bed at 9:15pm so that was a relief.

Friday I spent the whole day cleaning the house. The ladies were coming over for bunco last night so I wanted to make sure the house was clean and there weren't any toys laying around to be tripped over! Now if the house could just stay clean! The kids went to Greg's mom's for the night. This was the first time Em has spent the night away from us. It felt really weird not having her here. Some parents like to have their kids go away for a night or weekend, but I really do miss my kids when they're not here, especially at bedtime. It just feels like the house is too empty and it makes it hard to go to sleep. Since guys aren't allowed at bunco Greg went for a ride with our new neighbor Jason. Unfortunately it gets dark earlier now so they didn't get to ride for too long.

This months theme was "fall bunco." I figured now that it's September and the weather is changing "fall bunco" would be the perfect theme. On Wednesday when Evan was at school, I got out some of my fall/Halloween decorations. Usually I don't get them out until the end of September, but since I was hosting bunco I figured I'd get them out a little early this year. A little funny story for a minute... when Evan came home from school that day he says, "Mommy I see you've decorated for me while I was at school. It looks beautiful! I like it." How precious is that readers? What a kid!

Now back to bunco! Since my friend Wesley was co-hosting with me we both made some of the food. I made up some spinach dip that I had got at Trader Joe's. It was actually one of the best spinach dips I've ever had. If you ever go to Trader Joe's get the frozen spinach dip. It come in a cube shaped box. Delicious! I also made pumpkin bread, an apple dip, and apple cider punch. Wesley made a chicken salad, the famous El Az cheese dip, pumpkin dip, and pumpkin bars. Everything was absolutely delicious! I will be posting all the recipes soon! Here's a look at the spread. Careful, it's gonna make you hungry!



If you're in need of some fall recipes the apple dip, pumpkin dip, and pumpkin bars are fabulous! Very easy to make and they will be a hit at your party, as they were at bunco!

Here's some pics of the big table prizes. Most of the stuff I found at HomeGoods when we went a few weeks ago. A couple things were from Marshalls, another of my favorite stores! I just love the pumpkins! I did get two of the big pumpkins so I could keep one for myself. However, I wish I would've gotten two sets of the small pumpkin tea light holders because I really like those too!

Head Table

Middle Table

Loser Table

We ended up with only nine girls last night, but that was still enough to play. We just had to have one "ghost" per table. It was a fun night despite the little accident that stopped bunco play at the end of the first round. My friend Jess got a little excited when she rolled a "baby bunco" and knocked over her glass of red wine. Yes readers, this is going right where you think it is... red wine on my cream colored carpet! I'm not really a red wine drinker so I had no clue what to do to get it out. My friend Wes said to throw some baking soda on the stain to pull some of it out. So we did that. Of course it didn't all come out so Jess said she was going to run home and get her Rainbow. While she did that I looked online and found something that said to throw salt on the stain so we tried that too. I had no clue what the Rainbow was, but when Jess came back with it she worked her butt off trying to get the stain out. Here's the Rainbow.


It's a really expensive carpet cleaner. It seemed to work really well and looked like the stain came out. However, this morning when I came downstairs the spot was back. It was light colored, not near as bad as last night, but still you could see it. So bless her heart Jess came back again this morning with the rainbow and cleaned some more. Then she went and got some Spot Shot cleaner that seemed to help. There is still a slight stain, that we keep working on little by little and I'm optimistic that we're going to get it ALL out! I know you feel bad Jess, but really it will be fine. Please, please don't let this keep you from joining us for future buncos! Unfortunately I didn't even think to take a picture of the stain until after we had cleaned it up!

At least the night ended on a high note. I ended up with the most big buncos and tied Wes and Nicole for most wins. We had a roll off and Nicole won that so she got the money for most wins. I however, ended up with $25 for the most big bunco and won two baby bunco gifts! Here's my prizes- a soup cookbook that everyone wanted to go home with, but I got it, and a pumpkin dish, perfect for my fall decor!


Some of the girls bailed early, but there were a few of us that weren't party poopers. We sat, chatted and drank some more. Here's (from left to right) Dawn, Ahna (Jason's girlfriend who Greg went riding with), and Jess.


We all had a fun night! I love hanging with the girls. You all are the best! Thanks for coming to bunco! I enjoyed hosting bunco! I really think I should be a party/event planner, I have so much fun doing it!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First Day Of Preschool on 09/09/09

The first day of preschool finally arrived! How cool that it fell on 09/09/09! Evan goes to a preschool in E. Lansing and it's the same preschool he went to last year. There is a morning session and an afternoon session for Evan's age. Evan attends the afternoon session which goes from 1-4pm, Monday-Thursday. He actually has the same teacher again, but there will be different student teachers. The school is affiliated with MSU so many of the child development and elementary education students from MSU do teaching for their classes at Evan's school. We were really pleased with the school last year and knew we wanted him to go to the same place again this year. So this was like round two of going off to preschool.

Here's my little guy last year on the first day...

...here's my little guy (not so little anymore) before we left for school today!

Emme wanted in on the picture too!

Last year was Evan's first time being away from home when he headed off to preschool. He had never been in daycare so we thought it was time to get him adjusted to being away from mom all the time. He had a hard time at first, missing mom & dad for the first few weeks, and at various times throughout the year. So as the school year was approaching this year, I was keeping my fingers crossed that he would do fine. Yesterday when we were at school he kept telling me, "I'm going to miss you." That made me think he was going to have a hard time today when we got to school. Evan wanted both Greg and I to take him today. Usually just one of us drops him off. Since it was the first day though we agreed and we both took him, along with Em too! Here's some more pics from before we left.

A kiss for brother to send him on his way...

...and a hug, "I'll miss you brother!"

Bye!

At Evan's school they have a circle drive where you just pull up and they unload and load your child from the car. It's very nice, especially in the winter time! So we got there a few minutes early because I wanted to take some pictures, but after the pictures we got back in the car so Evan was ready to get out of the car when his teacher came out. In the past when we've sat in the car waiting for him to get out he starts to get sad and begins the "I'll miss you." Today Evan was super excited and couldn't wait to get out! I feared there would be tears and he'd be crying when the time came to get out, but I'm so proud of my little guy.... he didn't cry at all and was happy, and said "Bye, I'll see you at 4 o'clock mom" and off he went. No looking back. He was definitely ready for school. There were no tears from Evan, but as mommy drove away I had a few tears myself! I don't know what I'm going to do when he's off to kindergarten next year all day! Here's some pics of my cute little guy that we took at the school.

In front of the playground that he just couldn't wait to go play on!

I'm a proud momma of this little guy!

When I picked Evan up, he said he had a great day, met lots of new friends, and the only things he could remember that they did was read a book about his teacher Ms. Schulze and do crafts with scissors. I expected him not to remember to much or at least be able to tell me too much because it was the first day and most kids are a little overwhelmed from everything! I'm excited for his last year of preschool and the exciting things he's going to learn. Watching him grow throughout the year is going to be awesome! I also look forward to getting in the classroom to volunteer. The school asks that parents volunteer at least three times per year if possible. That's always a fun time for me being in the education field and being able to see the kids learning different things! Mom's super proud of you Evan and I look forward to seeing the different things you do come home in your backpack! I can't wait for a new painting to hang in the kitchen! We all love you bunches Ev, and we know you're going to have a great year in school!