January 26, 2011


October 2010

I came across these pictures this week and it made me so anxious for the spring. I can't wait for warmer weather and sunshine. I'm ready to have the windows open and to take afternoon walks with the boys.

October 2010

I'm in a little bit of a funk but I think it has mostly to do with the weather. I have to keep reminding myself that it won't stay winter forever and surely my spirits will lift with increased sunshine. Spring has come eventually every year and I have no reason to believe that this year will be any different!

January 25, 2011

Just a bite . . .

There are a few snacks I've been obsessed with over the last month or so.

EDITED TO ADD: A new #5 at the bottom!

1. Pretzel bites. Debbie made these on New Year's Eve and I'm not exaggerating when I say that I probably ate half of the amount that she brought to our house. After dreaming about them for weeks, I made them again last night. They weren't as pretty as hers were, but they were just as delicious.

One important note: Don't add ALL of the baking soda to the boiling water at once unless you really like cleaning your stove top. As I was dumping it in, I thought, "I wonder if this is a bad idea." It was, in fact, a bad idea.

Also, Debbie made the cheese sauce listed with this recipe and it was really good, but it started to get thick pretty quickly (which, of course, still didn't keep me from continuing to eat it). Last night, we just warmed a jar of cheese sauce and it was great.

One more thing . . . this recipe makes A LOT of pretzel bites. If you don't have friends to share them with, you might end up making yourself sick because you just can't stop eating them!

2. Melissa's CPK Guacamole. I made this right after she posted it in late October, and I cannot even count the number of times I've made it since them. We refer to it as "holy guacamole" because of how good it is.

The only thing we do differently is reduce the garlic powder and use a little garlic salt and I also add some chopped onion. Every time we make this, we start out thinking, "It's such a bummer that guacamole goes bad so quickly because we hate wasting what's left." That's never been a problem. For better or worse, the bowl is always clean.

3. Fire and Ice Pickles. To be fair, you don't actually "make" pickles with this recipe. You just take a jar of pickles and make it even better. Kyle's grandma makes these and I don't think I'll ever taste them and not think of her. They're so good. I already love pickles, but this just takes their goodness up a notch.

The only down side is that they're supposed to chill in your refrigerator for a week before you eat them. I have three jars in my refrigerator and I cannot wait to snack on them!

4. Spicy Holiday Anytime Nuts. I make these every Christmas and am still in the process of perfecting them. I started with a recipe I found online years ago and have never been able to find that same recipe. Truth be told, I don't think they've ever been as good as they were that first year when I had an actual recipe, but my version isn't bad.

Because I try to recreate them every year, they never really stays the same and I rarely measure everything out. Here's a general idea of what I do.

3 - 4 TB butter or margerine
1 large can of mixed nuts (6ish cups) . . . I buy the big can from Sam's Club
2 TB Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 - 2 sm jars of sesame seeds, depending on how many you want in there.

Preheat the oven to 300. While the oven is preheating, divide the butter between to cookie sheets with lips. Put the pans in the oven until the butter melts.

When the butter is completely melted, remove the pans from the oven and add half of the nuts to each. Divide the Worcestershire sauce between the two pans and drizzle it over all of the nuts. Toss with the butter to coat. I love Worcestershire sauce, so my guess is that I use more than a TB per pan. Put them back in the oven for 20 - 30 minutes.

December 2010

Something I learned: if you're doing anything else in the kitchen with vanilla while you're making these, be careful. Our sugar cookie frosting almost ended up with a beefy flavor because I wasn't paying close enough attention. The two bottles are very similar.

December 2010

While the nuts are toasting, empty the sesame seeds into a dry frying pan and toast them over medium heat. Stir them frequently. This step isn't necessary, but I did it last year and thought it made a big difference. I love the crunch of a toasted sesame seed and I think it makes a difference in the finished product. The sesame seeds will just change color slightly.

December 2010

When the nuts are done toasting, dump them all in a bowl and add the spices. Stir thoroughly until all of the spices are evenly dispersed. While the nuts are still hot, add the sesame seeds and toss thoroughly.

December 2010

These are a great snack and perfectly for parties. Because this recipe make so many, it might also make a nice treat to put in a tin and give to friends.


5. Queso Blanco Dip. Debbie made this at our house tonight. A. Mazing. Make it now. You'll thank me later.

January 23, 2011


There's something good about baking bread.

Isn't it amazing that different proportions and quantities of the same few ingredients can give you so many different things? Flour + water + yeast + salt = many, many different types of bread. Incredible.

January, 2011

Bread makes you wait. It encourages delayed gratification. It's a science and an art all at the same time. It's delicious and wholesome. And there's something satisfying about mastering kneading, folding and shaping techniques.

January, 2011

My love for bread making began on a trip to Chicago when Kyle and I had been married for less than a year. I was stuck in traffic and the radio was on an AM talk station. Normally I would have changed it, but I just wasn't paying attention.

The interview was with a woman named Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of The Bread Bible. I shifted into park on I-90, waiting for traffic to start moving again and listened to her talk about baking bread as if it were a type of therapy. Kyle bought me The Bread Bible for Christmas and he still says it was one of the best investments he's ever made.

January, 2011

I made bread way more before we had kids than I do now, for all of the obvious reasons. I made two loaves of cinnamon swirl bread two weeks ago, and my love for it came rushing back. Now, however, I have to barricade the work area of my kitchen so that I don't have any little people reaching for things on the counter or touching hot pans.

January, 2011

Several people have asked me for the recipe, but it's 7 pages long. I found a condensed version of the recipe on this post (scroll a little bit down the page).

January 22, 2011

School pictures

I'm not into school pictures. Jack's smile in these, however, cracked me up. I had to buy a couple just to remember it.

For a while he had been telling us, "This is my picture smile." It most certainly was.

School photos

School photos

January 20, 2011

You know you're getting old when . . .

In November, we put a screen door on our house and a shed in our back yard. I was so excited about these two additions that I took pictures of them.

I never thought I'd see the day when a screen door and a shed would make me so happy that I'd pull out my camera and take a picture, but I did. I have more natural light in our entry way and more room in the garage. What's not to love?

To be completely honest, I love them as much today as I did three months ago. And I don't even care who knows.

November 2010

I'm going to ask you to ignore the ugly bronze light fixtures. They've been on the "to replace" list since we bought our house 6 years ago. Our landscaping leaves much to be desired.

November 2010

January 17, 2011

Feel sorry for me

Ok, don't really feel sorry for me. I realize that this last week is really NOTHING compared to what some people go through and I'm actually pretty fortunate to have kids as healthy as mine are. I might even read this and laugh someday. Maybe? Or maybe not.

While there was nothing "fun" about this last week, I did like that I was forced to slow down, put everything else aside and just focus on my boys. For that, I am thankful.

Jack gets a fever and develops a pretty bad cough.

Our car is pronounced dead.

Jack's very sick and very cranky.

Kyle leaves for the weekend to attend his first grad school classes. Jack's fever starts to dwindle and coughing seems lessened. We had originally planned to go with him and head farther south for a short vacation this week, but with the upcoming tuition payments and our dead car, we decided it wasn't wise. At this point, I was really thinking that the boys and I might have a really great weekend.

Bennett woke up at 2:30 AM (and hour and a half after I made it to bed) and decided it was morning. He refused to go back to sleep. By 4:30, his temperature was 102. Fantastic.

Jack woke up at 6:00 and I spent the next three hours failing as a parent every time I was tested, due to lack of sleep and two sick, cranky kids. At 9, Brian came to watch them so that I could run some errands. Without that two hour break, I don't think I would have made it through the rest of the day.

Jack and Ben both napped a little and I was able to get some work done. I spent most of the afternoon holding Ben. His temperature was over 103. I talked to the doctor and felt comfortable just letting it run its course, with the aid of some motrin.

That night, Brian and Debbie came to take Jack to dinner. Within minutes of putting Ben to bed, I heard the sound of rushing water. Awesome. It turns out there was a waterfall in the basement. Why? Because of all of the standing water on the floor of the master bathroom. Double awesome.

Brian and Debbie helped me clean up and Brian fixed the toilet problem. I went to check on Ben and he was breathing super fast and it was very labored. His temp was 103.6 again.

So, at 8:30, my mother-in-law and I took Ben to the Emergency Room. That trip deserves it's own post. Let's just say that involved a nurse telling me multiple times that medicine is really "all about science." Oh really, Hippocrates? I had no idea. I am NOT a fan of that hospital and wish I would have listened when my instincts were telling me to drive the extra 30 minutes.

While at the E.R. I realized I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast. No wonder I was so cranky.

Diagnosis: Double ear infection and bronchitis.

4 hours of sleep. Jack and Ben were both up periodically throughout the night. I felt like I had a newborn again. Overnight, Jack developed a new, worse cough than before. And? You guessed it - another fever. Thanks to my in-laws, I was able to go into town to get Ben's prescription filled and they brought lunch.

Neither of the boys napped well and I spent the rest of Saturday holding them, wiping noses and coming up with creative ways to keep Ben from spitting his medicine back at me.

By Saturday, my arms were feeling like I worked out all weekend because of lugging that 27 lb. child around.

2 hours of sleep. They both took turns waking up and needing to be soothed back to sleep. I spent the rest of Sunday doing the same thing I did Saturday, though I have little memory of it. I can't remember every being so glad to see Kyle walk through the door than I was that night.

Jack was up for 3 hours overnight, but Kyle let me sleep in! It was glorious. Ben still has a fever, but his wheezing and coughing are really sounding so much better. This afternoon, Jack felt warm again, and sure enough . . . another fever. We took them both to our doctor and Jack has his first ear infection and some bronchitis.

January 11, 2011

It's NOT like riding a bike.

You know how there are some things that you can do as well as you ever could, no matter how long it's been since you last did it? The classic example of riding a bike, for instance?

For me, photography is not one of those things. I'm out of practice. Over the last month and a half, I've set aside my camera for the computer and I can certainly tell. Frigid temperatures don't help. I feel like I've hit a little bit of a rut because photographically, my ideas have run dry and I'm not progressing or getting better. I'm not pushing myself to improve.

So, I'm going to work to practice more. But until I do . . . here are a few pictures from the summer.

Brian and Debbie taught Jack to fish back in June. I thought the pictures had been lost because sometime in August I realized I hadn't ever processed them. When Kyle was cleaning out the Explorer after it died in August, he found a memory card that had gone rogue. Lo and behold . . . there were the missing photos.

Just soak these pictures in and pretend that everyone outside is wearing shorts and basking in the sunshine while you're seeking respite in the air conditioning.

June, 2010

June, 2010

January 9, 2011

Oh, Christmas.

I have never been ready for the holiday season to be over as much as I was this year. I realize that might make me the Scroogiest of them all.

On the Wednesday before Christmas, about a minute after the babysitter walked out the door, I heard Ben in his room coughing. I went in to find him covered from head to toe in vomit. Sick. Kyle and I spent the rest of that afternoon and evening taking turns rocking him and holding him while he threw up every half hour. It wasn't fun. And I knew that the rest of us would get it.

Things were looking up, though, because he stopped throwing up on Wednesday night and resumed eating regularly on Thursday morning. He seemed to be okay, was playing well, eating well . . . so that night we decided to go to Toledo Zoo for the Lights Before Christmas. It was nice, but cold, so we only stayed for an hour or so. Just long enough for the boys to get their picture taken with Santa.

Side note: Jack was so funny about Santa this year. He went to Fantasyland (he kept calling it "Wonderceyland") with my parents earlier in December when he was staying with them.

I asked him, "Did you see Santa Claus there?"

"No, just a guy in a Santa suit."

"How do you know he wasn't the real Santa?"

"I could just tell."

Anyway, on Christmas Eve Kyle wasn't feeling well and by Christmas morning he was throwing up and Ben started all over again. The next day, Jack joined in. I've never done more laundry over the holidays than I did this year.

I don't have any photos from Christmas morning. I bought them super cute coordinating (NOT matching) snowboarding pajamas and they were both stripped down to a diaper before we even opened gifts.

We bought the boys a wooden toy kitchen and "Santa" left a trail of fake fruits and vegetables down to the basement where it was and they were pretty excited to see it.

In the days following Christmas, we had some family gatherings and Ben had a well visit with his doctor. In three months he had grown three inches! He went from the 89th percentile to the 65th percentile in weight and from the 85th percentile to the 98th percentile for height. I think his drop in weight was due to the stomach bug he had been dealing with up to that point. For the last week or so he's been eating us out of house and home, so I can't help but wonder what his weight is now.

On new year's eve, Brian and Debbie came over and we played The Settlers of Catan until well after midnight. It was the first time I had seen midnight on new year's eve since 2005.

It wasn't a horrible Christmas . . . just not one I'd want to do again.

January 4, 2011

Jack's bedtime prayer . . .

Dear Jes . . . uh . . . heavenly Father, thank you for today.

Help Ben's boo boo to get better.

Help me go poopy.

Alright, let's go to sleep . . . we've got a big day tomorrow.


January 3, 2011

Dear Bennett, Month 15

Dear Ben,

I sang "Jesus Loves Me" to you before bedtime a couple of weeks ago, and every time I sang "Jesus" you popped your head up and said, "baby?"

At first I thought you were saying "bye bye" and I dismissed it as you just practicing your words. Soon I realized you were saying "baby" and I confirmed what you were hoping was true . . . the Jesus in the song is the same baby Jesus that we talked about so often when playing with your nativity set. This Christmas was far from the first time that we'd talked about Jesus, but I think it was the first time you recognized his name.

December 2010

You've been slightly more aware of the holiday season this year than you were last year. You liked the Christmas music we listened to in the car. You yanked ornaments off the tree any chance you got and landed in a time out each and every time I saw you do it.

For your birthday, you got a Little People nativity set and as I mentioned, it's contributed to your understanding of Christmas. You know that the angel goes on the top and that when you press it into it's proper spot, it plays "Away In A Manger." And you dance to it as if it's some sort of club re-mix. At some point this month, we lost Joseph. Our best guess is that he ended up in the trash. You like to put all kinds of things in the trash.

December 2010

Every now and then as we played with your nativity set we talked about "Emmanuel." We told you how God, the creator of the Universe, came as a little baby. I told you that we celebrate because we're not alone anymore. God's with us. Your response was usually to throw the donkey across the room, or tried to shove one of the shepherds completely into your mouth.

But when you said, "baby" when you heard the name of Jesus, it reminded me that these conversations, no matter how over your head they are, are important. Crucial, really. Right now, you understand that Jesus is that little plastic baby we play with under the Christmas tree. But as you grow, your understanding of who he is will grow, too. You might not fully understand the things we teach you know, but my hope is that they'll get lodged in your brain so that when you are old enough to "get it" what you need to know will already be there.

December 2010

I'll remember many of your milestones, but that moment right before bedtime will probably be one of the highlights in my mind. I don't know how to put into words how much I desire for you to love and serve Jesus and to pursue a relationship with him. At that moment, seeing you recognize his name was just the first step to what I hope will be a lifelong journey for you.

December 2010

Merry (belated) Christmas!