Category Archives: Uncategorized

Nature Discoveries on the Home Front

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The other day the kids called me over to the mailbox before I sent them inside for dinner.  They wanted to show me this Monarch Butterfly that had been caught by a big, black, hairy spider.

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It’s too bad I didn’t capture a better picture but it was shady and I was rushing to get food down the kids’ gullets.

The next morning we were riding our bikes out front and the kids noticed the aftermath of the spider’s feast.

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Just the pretty wings were all that remained. Too bad for the butterfly but lucky for the spider. Such is life. And the kids peddled on.

Just now I was presented this toad as I sit typing and playing lifeguard.

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I told my daughter to kiss it in case it’s really a prince but she refused.  I told her she’ll probably end up kissing a lot of toads before she finds her prince. She just started at me so I told her to put it in the garden.

I wonder what our next nature moment will be…

New Celebrity Crush

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Amy’s excited face waiting to meet Chip, a.k.a “Deacon”

So last night, after a day of boating, I headed up to Janesville, WI to go to the Rock County Fair with  one of my bestest friends in the whole wide world so see a concert. I didn’t even remember who we were going to be seeing but I didn’t care because it was a me-focused day of fun without the kiddos.

While boating I looked up who was going to be performing so I wouldn’t show up totally oblivious. Turns out we were going to see Clare Bowen and Charles “Chip” Esten from the hit show Nashville. I was like, “Oh, cool. I have no idea who they are but whatever.”

So I show up to Amy’s house and she’s down right giddy. I knew right away it was going to be a fun night. I haven’t seen her that excited about meeting a country star in a long time so I made her give me the quick run-down on her Nashville crush and she introduced me to some of their music before we headed to the fair.

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Amy had VIP tickets for the pre-show meet-and-greet and although I hadn’t previously known of Chip’s existence, by the time it was our turn to meet him, Amy’s excitement had rubbed off on me and I’m certain I was blushing as he signed our CDs and we took a picture together.

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The concert, with the lit up fair rides as the backdrop, was the definition of Summer fun. Both Clare and Chip were stunning on stage yet still came across as a little dorky and down to earth which I can appreciate and gave us spectators much to laugh at. Now I need to actually watch the past two seasons of Nashville so I can swoon a little more over Chip and find out what all the fuss over this show is about 😉 It’s a good thing I have friends to keep me in the know about hunky celebrities/actors/musicians and worthwhile TV shows while I’m busy keeping my circus running!

Beach Bums and Backyard Sleepers

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Yesterday we picked up Grandma and went to the beach. 2014-07-10 13.31.09We spent a glorious few hours soaking up the sun, playing Monkey in the Middle in the water, doing cartwheels and summersaults down the huge sand pile and failing miserably at building a sand castle worthy of any respect. It was great!

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She looks angry but was really just on a mission to get her goggles! Phew!

 

Then after piano lessons and dinner followed by more snow cones I tucked my minions into their tent for a second night of backyard camping.

This kid was bouncing off the walls but some how I finally got him settled down and ready to sleep.

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The longer you look at this picture the more it looks like I photo-shopped his head onto his body. Give it a second… See what I mean? Cracks me up.

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His sister was equally as squirrely so I issued a few threats about noise and getting out from under their covers and marching them up to their own beds which eventually got their attention.

With their lovies by their side they snuggled in.

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I kissed their faces and made a hasty exit, admiring the full moon above their tent, into the house and2014-07-10 20.55.01 upstairs to my comfy bed where I slept peacefully and uninterrupted all night long! I think their busy day at the beach must have worn them out since no one woke up with nightmares… at least none that I’m aware of, and that’s a win in my book!

Now it’s time to intervene and stop the arguing I hear outside as I type this. The kids are suppose to be cleaning out all their gear from the tent so we can put it away but this seems to be a herculean task for some reason… probably since they’re 4 and 6 year old punks.

Happy Friday, friends!

 

 

Banana-Sweet Potato Muffins

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See this contraption with the glowing light behind the bananas? Of course you do. DSC07159

It’s an indoor bug zapper and in a household where there is always a container with scrap food for the chickens, a compost collection bucket, bushels of bananas and other various produce on the counter along with children who just can’t figure out how to close doors and dogs that know how to open them it is a most welcome eye sore to my counter top.

Just for the fruit flies alone it’s been worth the $25 investment and as long as everyone rinses their dishes before placing them in the sink to await their turn in the dishwasher it works very well.

See those bananas that are getting pretty spotty? How can ya miss ’em?

I threw a few of them in a bowl with a left over sweet potato, added some other good stuff and voila! Out of the oven came some delicious muffins that are kid endorsed and mom approved.

DSC07162Here’s the recipe if you wanna give them a go. 5 out of 6 kids under the age of 7 loved them. My little girl was the snob of the group who would have preferred it if I simply gave her the sweet potato and banana in it’s true form not to mention she doesn’t really like chocolate chips. Little weirdo.

 

 

 

 

 

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This is her “These are delicious! I need a big one now!” look. Don’t get me started on her hair!!!

Banana-Sweet Potato Muffins

2 large, ripe bananas, mashed

1 sweet potato cooked, mashed

3 Tbsp maple syrup

1/2 cup applesauce, I used natural (if using original I’d reduce the sugar amount a little)

3 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped pecans

 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins and spray with cooking spry (they stick to the liners a little if you don’t) or just spray the tins well without liners.

2.Combine bananas, sweet potato, applesauce, maple syrup, eggs and sugar in a bowl.

3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until combined.

4. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans if using.

5. Spoon batter into muffin tins. Bake 20 minutes for regular sized muffins, 12 minutes for mini muffins.

Happy Baking!

Colleen

 

 

 

 

 

The Greatest Garden Chicken Salad

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Monday I packed the kids up and headed to Chicago for a day of fun. Before we left I put together a chicken salad to bring for lunch since we were meeting my brother in Millenium Park. In person I call my new concoction “Kick-ass Chicken Salad” or “The Best Chicken Salad in the Whole Damn World” but for posting purposes I settled on “Garden Chicken Salad” since all of the fresh ingredients are growing in my garden right now. (You can scroll to the end right now for the recipe or just keep reading.) I packed up my bomb chicken salad and the kids and hit the road.

Our first stop was the Field Museum. My bro got us a family membership for the kids’ birthdays and we LOVE it! There is so much to do there. The highlight of our trip this time were the mummies, especially the child mummies which I think creeped the kids out a little. We also enjoyed looking at the man-eating lions from Tsavo and exploring the Playlab but the best part was probably purchasing these gems…
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These wax molds are what kids pine after at museums and other such places and it’s the first time I let them each get one. The kids were stoked to feed the machine their $2.00 and wait for it to poop out a little wax figurine and I enjoyed reminiscing on the times of my youth when I was allowed to do the same.

With our new toys in hand we headed to The Bean, officially called Cloud Gate, for lunch with Uncle Brenden.

DSC07139 It was a muggy day but we enjoyed it none-the-less because the rain had stopped and we were checking off an activity on our Summer bucket list, plus the location was pretty bomb, just like the chicken salad. Uncle Brenny brought some treats from Magnolia’s Bakery to round out the meal.

After lunch we headed to the Crown Fountain for a little splash time which for my girls soon turned into a drench fest and since we didn’t have swim suits they rode all the way home naked. I’m just glad I didn’t get pulled over or in an accident, that would have been awkward for my oldest!

 

 

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Below is the loose recipe for my new, kick-ass chicken salad. I usually add celery, carrot and Craisin to my chicken salad but since I was out of the usual cast of characters I had to get creative. A note about the recipe: In general I feel that people have very different chicken salad preferences so I’m just listing the ingredients I used since it’s really all about the flavor combo anyways and I have yet to actually  measure anything out.

Garden Chicken Salad

2 parts Plain Greek Yogurt to 1 part Mayonnaise

diced cucumber, seeds removed if large

diced raddish
diced sweet onion

halved cherry tomatoes

diced chicken (I made mine Sunday in the crockpot using a whole chicken, pat dry and covered in lots of fresh oregano, basil and parsley with a little salt and pepper too.)

fresh or dried dill to taste

salt and pepper to taste

*** Simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl and dig in!

 

Today will be my third day in a row eating it and it gets me excited for lunch time even before I eat breakfast! If you make it and have a minute, I’d love to know what you think.

Enjoy,

Colleen

 

 

It’s All Fun And Games Until Great Grammy Wins

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Our weekly visits to Great Grammy’s house typically involve lots of food and treats, coloring and bouncing on the furniture. This week the kids brought Chutes and Ladders and it was a great game for them to play with Grammy. My oldest girl won the first two games and then excused herself so someone else could win a game. My boy won the next game and was eager to play again so Grammy happily obliged. Then she won the next game and my boy turned into a butthead.

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See that scowl. It didn’t last long though because his Grammy agreed to play again for the ump-teenth time. She’s a saint.

Board games with kids can end up great or sucky but the process is usually fun and when you have a Great Grammy to divert sour moods with Jello, popcorn, goldfish, gummy bears and M&Ms the outcome of the game hardly matters!

Garden Goodies

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Its never too early in the morning to enjoy some fresh snap peas and radishes from the garden!

Last weekend I harvested 8 gallon sized Ziploc bags full of various lettuces. Thankfully we were heading to a party where I could palm them off because that’s just too much lettuce for this family! I gotta get my butt back in the garden for some serious weeding and its time to harvests bunch of rhubarb and more lettuce. Its a great garden this year and we’re all enjoying eating the spoils of our work.

We can’t wait for the peppers that will be ripe soon and all the tomatoes that are off to a good start.