Saturday, June 25, 2016

Summer Sanity Saver- Checklists

I look forward to summer for the hot weather, flexible bedtime, and loosey-goosey we-can-do-whatever-we-want-whenever-we-want schedule. I do NOT like it, however, for the bugs and lack of structure. My children NEED structure, but I have to find just the right balance between sweet, sweet freedom and complete chaos. 
Now, I have FOUR children: boys ages 13, 9, and 7, and a 3-year-old girl. The boys have combined diagnoses of ADHD, anxiety/depression, and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (only one does not have ADHD) just to make things extra fun.  
Finding the balance is really tricky. 
I printed the checklists through Costco's photo center for under $2 each. The clear pouches are from The Dollar Tree, as are the stickers. Also from The Dollar Tree: knockoff Velcro to attach the checklists to the front of the pouches, colored craft sticks for chore distribution, and foam sheets to make the chore stick holder. (Chores will be covered in a separate post.)
The first day went surprisingly well!  Today, not so great, but the expectations have been set and the guidelines are right in front of their face. They can refer to the checklist if they have any questions about what needs to be done, and I don't have to remember who has done what, and whether they have earned iPod/tablet/TV/computer time. 👍🏻👍🏻

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mom Hack: Pizza Pull-Apart Bread

Have you ever tried the Rhodes frozen bread dough?  It's AMAZING!! It's delicious baked the traditional way, or you can thaw your way to a yummy shortcut! 
Today, I thawed two loaves to make our easy, kid approved dinner. The first is a chicken and Swiss baked sandwich. It's pretty self-explanatory (and I did a post previously about this customizable meal) but feel free to comment below if you need step-by-step instructions. 
***Disclaimer: I am NOT a seasoned food photographer. You get what you get.  Hopefully, it doesn't look too unappetizing.***

The second dish-- the feature of today's post-- is pizza pull-apart bread. Are you ready for the simple awesomeness of this recipe??  Well, here you go:
- Thaw a loaf of frozen bread using the method of your choice. I didn't plan very far in advance, so I used the speed method. 
- Pregeat your oven to 350. 
- When the dough is nice and fluffy, roll it into ropes and cut it into bite sized pieces. 
- Pour a cup of the tomato sauce of your choice (I use whatever pizza or pasta sauce we have on hand) into a medium mixing bowl and stir the dough pieces in. - Add another cup of sauce to the mix, along with a cup or 2 of your favorite cheese (I used a mozzarella and Parmesan blend) and stir until the dough is well coated. 
- Optional: add cut-up pieces of pepperoni or other pizza toppings and fold in or sprinkle over the top after the dough is in the pan. You can also add extra sauce and/or cheese to you pre-baked creation (can you ever really have too much cheese?). 
- Baking in a tube-shaped pan works best for even cooking, so I used a bunny pan. If you don't have a similar pan, you can set a small oven-proof bowl in the center of whatever baking dish you use, and spoon the dough in around it. 
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is browning and the cheese is bubbly. 
- Remove from oven and let it cool for 5 minutes before serving. 

It's not pretty, but it tastes sooooo gooood! 😊

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mom Hack- Pocket Meals

You know those biscuits in a tube? The kind that scare the crap out of you when they pop open? Those have been my best friends lately when it comes to making fast and easy food my kids will actually eat. 
My favorite variety are the Pillsbury Grands! Flakey Layer biscuits. You just peel them apart (hamburger way) into two separate circles, flatten each half with your palm, mound the filling of your choice into the center one one, cover with the other and seal the edges completely before baking according to the package instructions. You could, of course, use 2 smaller, less expensive,  non-layer biscuits to accomplish the same results.  Whatever works!!
So, what can you fill them with, you ask? Anything! Our favorites have included deli meat and cheese, anything you would put on a pizza crust, chopped apples with cinnamon and sugar, and pot pie mix (chopped chicken, a can of cream of chicken soup, mixed veggies, and cheese). You could also use sloppy joe meat/sauce, scrambled eggs and sausage, pie filling, marshmallows and chocolate chips, and anything you would normally mix with rice, pasta, potatoes, or in between 2 slices of bread. The sky is the limit with this baby!  BONUS: Portable meals that don't require the use of silverware or dishes. Seriously, just let these suckers cool, hand them to your kids, and send them outside to feed the ants with any fallen crumbs. 
What would YOU put in your pocket?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Not so super mom

In case you can't tell, I'm kind of a mess. I struggle to keep myself together every day so I can take care of the kids and get the important things done when all I want to do is crawl back in bed and shut the world out.  A successful day is one that ends calmly with happy children and no blow-ups. Usually, I'm ready to put my head through a wall by dinner time, as evidenced by my snapping at the kids to be quiet and eat. I stop myself and count to 10 more times than anyone knows, apologize more than I care to when I don't stop myself soon enough, but I can get through most days without any major problems and the kids never know the horrible words or thoughts that go through my head. All they need to know is that I love them, in spite of their mistakes and imperfections. Even though I am very obviously not perfect.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Boarding school

Did you know there's only one boarding school in Minnesota? Yeah. My husband checked. It was a rough weekend. 
We wouldn't really send our kids away, but it sure is a tempting thought when you have three boys who ignore instructions, talk back, fight with each other, break things from carelessness, make messes they refuse to clean up, and seem to go out of their way to break rules and get each other in trouble. Short of beating the snot out of them or locking them in individual closets (some more tempting thoughts that we would NEVER do), we are at a loss of what to do. 
We have rules, we consistently enforce those rules, we discipline and give incentives, but they still seem hellbent on doing the exact opposite of what is expected of them, even if they are fully aware it will screw themselves over in the end. 
For example, my husband wanted to take the boys to the REI rock climbing wall. They have all developed a fascination with rock climbing to the point that my husband actually built a climbing walk in our garage. All they had to do to go do this fun activity is get dressed, eat breakfast, and not fight. Easy, right?
TWO HOURS of us nagging them and breaking up fights later, they were on the road. The only rules once they got there were to stay close to Daddy, be nice to each other, and not ask to buy anything. Of course, they ran away, threw fits when my husband would buy them the million things they asked for, and made fun of each other's climbing abilities. They came home early and had to spend the day either doing chores or taking a timeout in bed. They were SO cooperative (not!) that they all went to bed early instead of staying up to watch a movie with fun babysitters while the hubby and I went on a rare date. 
That's pretty much how the entire weekend went. And they're off school Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday this week. Help!! How do you get your kids to behave??

Thursday, October 31, 2013

I'm back. Again.

So, I have not posted forever because (1) my life has been insane in so many ways, and (2) I haven't done much in the way if craftiness or creativity lately. Therefore, I have decided to change the path that this blog was originally intended to take, and share the REAL stuff that happens around here. I am a REAL mom who is awesome but flawed, with REAL kids who are incredible but exhausting, and we lead REAL lives that are fun and busy and noisy and, of course, crazy, but also very blessed. 
A lot has happened in the last year- good and bad- that I will share little by little, and I am trying to shift my priorities and manage my time better to allow for increased sanity and completed projects I can share. 
I hope you will join me on this journey of rediscovering who I am and how in the world I'm going to survive raising my four high-spirited kids. =)
In the mean time, here is our latest bundle of pure joy and perfection. Elliott Marian was born on June 14th, two days late, and we have thoroughly enjoyed having her in our family. She is so sweet, unbelievably happy, and loves to be involved in everything everyone else is doing. 





Today is JUST not my day!  It started just after midnight when we discovered out diabetic 11-year-old son's blood sugar level was sky high for no apparent reason. Like, scary high- higher than it has ever been since his diagnosis 22 months ago. Luckily, we were able to get it down by breakfast time, but holy panic attack! My overly active imagination outdid itself. 
Then, on the way home from preschool, my 4-year-old's asthma kicked in and he coughed so hard he threw up all over himself, the booster seat, and seatbelt. I got him cleaned off, showered, nebulized, and then went to the basement to start the laundry. 
But guess what? The utility sink (that the washer and kitchen sink drain into) is totally clogged and full of water. That means I can't do the pile of dishes in the kitchen or wash the piles of stinky laundry in the basement and bathroom until my poor husband (who was supposed to have the whole day yo study for a test tomorrow) gets home to fix it. Oh, yeah. And replace the front doorknob that the boys broke yesterday. We currently do not have a knob on our front door. 
At least I have chocolate...
Happy Halloween!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Worm cake

I can't believe I forgot to post this!
For my son's 6th birthday, he desperately wanted a worm cake. I thought it would be fun to make the cake in the shape of a hill, so I baked it in the large, glass Pampered Chef measuring bowl. It worked beautifully! (Mix as directed on the box and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.)
After the cake cooled, I frosted it generously with whipped chocolate frosting (store-bought, because why not??) and sprinkled crushed Oreos all over. That part got a little messy. Since the sides were sloped, I had to use my clean hands to pat the crumbs into place.
The gummy worms were the most fun part. They probably would have looked better if I had actually stuck some into the cake sides, but my son liked the look of them crawling all over each other. =)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tortellini Soup (super easy)

I went to a mom lunch today with some friends and brought the soup.  Since I have been dying to make tortellini soup, but know no one in my house will eat it with me, that's what I made.  I looked at some recipes online, found one I liked, and tweaked it a bit.  It was a huge hit! I think I ate four servings myself...

Here's what I did:
  • Bring 8 cups of chicken broth to a boil.  
  • Add 12 oz. package dried tortellini (I used the three cheese variety from Trader Joe's), reduce heat, and cook until just barely tender (about 12 minutes but you'll want to check because it will cook more with the other ingredients, and overcooked tortellini is kinda gross).  
{ALTERNATIVE METHOD: Use refrigerated or frozen tortellini in only 4 cups of boiling chicken broth. It will cut down the cooking time a little bit.}
  • Add:
    • 1 can of diced tomatoes, undrained
    • 1 can of cannelloni or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 large handful of baby spinach
    • 1 heaping teaspoon of dried basil
    • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
    • black pepper to taste (I used about 1/4 teaspoon, I think)
  • Stir thoroughly to combine.
  • Simmer until all ingredients are heated through, spinach is slightly wilted, and tortellini is tender.
  • Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese (optional) and serve.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Pesto and Goat Cheese Pizza

This was dinner tonight, and it was delicious!
I used a whole wheat pita, spread it with about a tablespoon of prepared pesto (I buy mine in the pasta sauce aisle), arranged halved grape tomatoes on top, and sprinkled a generous amount of crumbled goat cheese over everything. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes (OR broil for roughly 3 minutes) or until the cheese is melty and the edges of the pita are toasted.
If you don't have pitas, you can use flat bread, pizza crust, or even a tortilla. I'd also like to try it with artichoke hearts and sautéed mushrooms.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Favorite Sandwich

With this baby, I have been craving sub-style sandwiches.  My favorites are Quiznos Turkey Bacon Guacamole (no Ranch dressing), Jimmy John's #12 (The Beach) with no mayo, Erbert & Gerbert's Narmer (no mayo), and Potbelly's Mediterranean.  Can you tell I'm a sucker for turkey and avocado??

Tonight, I decided we would make our own sandwiches, Quiznos-style.  Toasted.  I picked up a package of hoagies from Target and we had turkey and chicken to choose from (I only buy Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh now), along with four different kinds of cheeses (cheddar, Colby jack, Swiss, and Havarti), and then pickles and lettuce for add-ons (no one likes tomatoes, besides me, and we were out of bacon).

For my sandwich, however, I borrowed inspiration from a sandwich that Subway only occasionally has: the Chicken Florentine.  The ingredient that makes this sandwich so addictive and yummy is the spinach artichoke spread.  For my copycat sandwich, I simply use my spinach artichoke dip recipe.  It's super easy to make and I usually have the ingredients on hand. 

Making the sandwich is super easy, too.  I ate the whole thing before I thought about taking pictures.  Sorry.  I'm sure you're smart enough to put the sandwich together without visuals. =)

You will need prepared spinach artichoke dip (this can be made ahead of time, refrigerated, and then reheated), your choice of bread, slices of chicken (cold cuts are easiest, but I've also used leftover baked chicken breast), and your choice of sliced cheese (I like really like provolone or Havarti).  That's it.  Oh, and an oven.  We're going to broil it in the oven on a foil-covered baking sheet.
  • First, set your oven to broil.
  • Next, get a hoagie/section of French bread/dinner roll/whatever bread you want, slice it the long way, just like they do at Subway, and open it up so the insides are facing up.  
  • On one side of the open bread (the side that will be the top), spread the dip on generously.  I like it at least 1/2 inch thick.
  • On the other side of the open bread (the side that will be the bottom), stack slices of chicken.  I used 6 for my 6-inch hoagie.
  • Top with sliced cheese.
  • Keep the sandwich open and broil until the cheese is melted and the edges of the bread are toasty.  It only takes a couple minutes, so don't walk away!
  • Close your sandwich and enjoy.  =)
Since I have extra hoagie rolls and dip, I will probably do this again tomorrow. Or maybe for a midnight snack tonight.  Hey, I'm pregnant.  It's allowed.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Still here

I have to be one of the worst bloggers ever!  I'm trying to take advantage of my down-time and do some catching up.  Have down time?  How did that happen?  Well, there are two reasons.  First, I finally graduated in May!!!!  It has been SO nice to not have to worry about homework and finals but, in a weird way, I kind of miss it.  I'll go back someday.

The rest of it has to do with a little person due to join our family in June.  We're so excited!  Baby #4 will be a welcome addition to our bustling house.  So far, though, I've been very sick and very tired.  It takes everything I have just to take care of the kiddos and do the bare minimum around the house.  Christmas shopping has been done almost exclusively online, and the presents I intended to make are on hold until I can muster up enough energy (and clear enough floor space) to get them done.  Thank you for your patience!

"Thank you" jewelry sets

For my boys' end-of-the-year thank you presents, I made each of their teachers and the school nurses (they've been lifesavers since Benjamin's diabetes diagnosis) jewelry sets.  They were a big hit!  It was fun to finally use the turquoise and opaline beads, as well as the silver beauties that have been waiting around.  (Please excuse the poor photography.  Editing can only do so much to fix poorly lit pictures taken late at night.)

 I've had these beads forever.  I've used a few here and there for earrings, but I love how the set came together and how the earthy tones are brightened by the lighter shades.
 I could not get the picture to do this set justice.  The turquoise beads are made of beautiful stone with a nice weight.  I interspersed them with opaline (gorgeous!) and tiny silver beads.

 One of my favorites!  Again, couldn't get a picture to accurately depict the color and texture.  The turquoise stone beads of beautiful detail, and I love how they pop against the silver.

This one was really fun.  I love black onyx, but it needed some dressing up.  The silvery shells are a nice complimentary contrast, if that makes sense, and make this set more versatile.  It can be worn casually or to a holiday party.

What is it about turquoise that makes it so hard for me to photograph????

Monday, September 3, 2012

Summer & Recipes

Holy moly, what a summer!  It started with me working a LOT more than I wanted to (I took the last month off, though), continued with swim lessons, day camps, visits with family (BOTH of my sisters live in-state now!), camping trips for the boys, swimming and playing with friends, and a little bit of crafting and sewing thrown in there, but now school is ready to start again.  Tomorrow!!!  I will have two boys in full-time- Kindergarten and 4th grade- and my baby will start 3-year-old preschool.  WOO HOO!!!!!

I have pictures and details coming, but for now I want to share a blog that has some AMAZING recipes!  Last night, I went through just the desserts and printed out several I want to try. 
 Starting with these...
Seriously, how yummy do these look???

The blog is called Six Sisters' Stuff.  They have crafts and recipes and things for family, too- tons of fun stuff.  You should check it out!  I'm going to check out their dinner ideas (especially the crock pot ones) next. 

Catch you later!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Free Silhouette Files

If you have a Silhouette you probably know about the free shape of the week.  If you didn't know, Silhouette offers a free shape every week.  Just go to and click on FREE shape of the week on the Home page.  Anyway, I wanted more free stuff (who doesn't?) and stumbled upon two awesome sites.

The first is  They have instructions on how to get 44 shapes for FREE.  Seriously!  I just did it and it totally works.  (Just be careful because not all of them that pop up are free.)

The second site is A Spoonful of Sugar.  This amazing woman makes her own shapes and offered some for FREE on her blog!  They are super cute and I'm super impressed.

I also found but haven't checked them out yet.  Looks like fun, though!
I can't wait to start creating again.  I'm LOVING being a free woman!