Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sending a little happiness your way on this long winter day...

We are enjoying, enduring our third "polar vortex" day in Northern Illinois.  I should be happy, but I had big plans for my Freshman/Sophomore Academic Bowl team tonight.  Oh well, hopefully the weather will cooperate next Thursday.

But, more importantly, Holly will be 8 in TWO MORE DAYS!!! She is very excited!  Today we were able to whip up her birthday treats to share at school (a job I had originally penciled in for Sunday afternoon, but it looks like we'll be having days 4 and 5 of  polar vortex time off next Monday and Tuesday.  Hopefully not, because I have better things to do in June than go to school.)
These little rainbow cupcakes were a pinterest success!  The hardest part was tracking down the rainbow Airhead candy, but the boys searched Woodman's high and low a few weeks ago and eventually found them in the candy aisle.
Holly made a great 7 year old, I'm sure 8 will treat her well, too.  She's a lovely young lady (most days)!  Seriously, she's a good kid.  Holly definitely has her dad's sense of humor and outgoing attitude, her big brothers to look out for her, and her mom's brains, so she's got it all goin' for her, right!?!?

Have a great weekend, stay warm, and THINK SPRING!!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Crock Pot Liners!

I spent $1.99 very wisely a few weeks ago:  I bought a box of slow cooker liners (found in the paper goods aisle, by the Saran Wrap).  There were 4 in the box, so $0.50 a piece.
 I used my first one last night, or should I say yesterday morning?  First, I lined the Crock Pot and set in a frozen round steak.

In another bowl, I whisked together 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, a packet of brown gravy mix, and about 3/4 cup of water.

I poured the mixture over the round steak, put the lid on, and left for the day!

That night, I made a big green salad and boiled some wide egg noodles.   I took a couple of forks and kind of broke up the steak (it's so tender by this point that it just falls apart).  


And here's the beauty of it:

(and a really great picture, too!)  The bag didn't break or leak at all, my Crock Pot is just really ugly, it gets used A LOT!

You may be wondering where Rex has been residing these days... Well, he hasn't spent the night in his kennel since the cold snap.  Dave puts him in the kennel in the morning and the kids let him out when they get off the bus, then we let him in the house when it gets dark.  He's even got his own job!  (Just kidding!)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Admitting you have a problem is the first step...

Yes, I have a mild addiction.  I love yarn, I like to knit, I waste hours of my life listening to the clicky clacky of my knitting needles.

But, I have TOO MUCH yarn.  I have to STOP buying it and never finishing projects.  I have to STOP pinning cute patterns on Pinterest.  It all must stop.  I mean, look at this stash!!!

My New Year's resolution is to use it all up, or as much as I possibly can.  (Some balls are too small and some projects are too big.) Also, I need to FINISH projects, and give them away! So, each quarter of the year, I swear to update my loyal blog followers with my progress.  Here is my plan for this first quarter:

These 4 remnant balls will be knitted into a cozy cowl for a certain friend of mine who has to face the elements everyday.  I won't say anything more because she might catch on.  I've already said too much.

These two balls will turn into some pillow cases, hopefully much like the one shown below ($39.99 on Etsy, by the way!).

And, looking ahead two the 2nd quarter of 2014, these balls of wash cloth-weight yarn will be knitted into wash clothes, all while I sit poolside soaking up sun!

Well... actually... another 2014 resolution is NO MORE SUN, LOTS MORE SUNSCREEN!  I'm getting too old for a suntan.  I already have too many sun spots and my skin doesn't rebound like it used to.   Was that too much information?  Maybe.  So, wish me luck!  And, if anything up there catches your eye, let me know!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Yes, I caved in...

Last fall I read the book Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog, by Garth Stein.  It was an entertaining book narrated by a race car driver's dog.  The story really made me think about what dogs really do know and understand.  Dave and I have owned two Spring Spaniels over the years.  Our Springers were great dogs, but by the time our second Springer died,  I had four messy kids and was losing my mind from dog hair, messy foot prints, and accidents in the house (Millie suffered a lot at the end and we spent a lot of time cleaning up after her.)   After Millie, we decided to try a new breed.  That's when we got Rex-- a Chesapeake Bay Retriever.   But, I banished him to a kennel behind our house.  It's a nice kennel, Dave puts a new bale of straw in it every fall (and in past winters he has put in a heat lamp, too); normally Rex is perfectly happy, after all he has never known any different.

Until last Sunday night.

With the temps so far below zero, we knew it would be unsafe for him to be left in the kennel.  So, Sunday afternoon when the temps started to plummet, we dug out an old blanket and gave Rex a talking-to.  We started by letting him out every 45 minutes and after he went to the bathroom, we'd call him back in.  He figured it out RIGHT AWAY!  Such a smart pup!

He must feel like he's hit the jack-pot.  Sunday night Dave and I made Steak Diane out of Sirloin with a nice big bone--for Rex!

He's gotten more attention than he probably ever dreamed possible because it has been fun having him around and we've been REALLY bored.

Today we were off of school again and decided to go into town for lunch.   We left him alone for about an hour and a half and he was a perfect angel!  We baby-gated him in the laundry room with his blanket (where he has been sleeping like a rock ALL night for the past 2 nights)!  I was afraid of what we'd find when we got home, but he just took a nap I guess!

The bad news is tomorrow he's going to be kicked out to his kennel again because I don't trust him THAT much...        (By the way, this is a picture of Holly brushing Rex with a Barbie brush!)