Saturday, September 6, 2014

Where did summer go??

Is it really already the start of September, and fall(ish)? This summer was a blur of activity!! I will be posting about all of our camping adventures. Hopefully now that things have slowed down a little bit I can get on top of that.
A look at the summer: We went camping at 7 different State Parks this summer. Lake Shetek, Lac qui Parle, St. Croix, Rice Lake, Lake Carlos, Crow Wing, and Forestville/Mystery Cave. We are still hoping to get some fall camping in, since we know the heat works on the pop up. Looking at this list I guess I can easily see where summer went. William loves to be camping and playing outside. Unfortunately the mosquitoes love him too and he has been covered in bug bites pretty much since May.
We are going to have a new project on the camper before we can do anything. The main cable snapped that pops the camper up and down. Luckily it happened in the garage as we were getting ready to take it to my uncle's house to store it for a while. From what I have seen, it is not a difficult thing to fix, and should be relatively inexpensive as well. And maybe now that we don't have things going on every single weekend, we can get started on the actual renovations and painting before it gets too cold. Stay tuned for updates!
My little explorer

Monday, May 19, 2014


I have been busy in cupcake land. First was cupcakes for William's Birthday. He has recently started getting into Elmo and Cookie Monster, so I decided that would be the best subject for Birthday cupcakes.
I looked around Pinterest for ideas on how to make them, and decided I needed a new decorating tip to get the best "fur" with icing. I also debated how to go about the eyes and mouth. I originally thought I would use fondant to make them, but after discovering how much it cost for how little fondant I needed, I settled with buying candy melts and making my own.
eye, eye
Monster smiles
I really liked how quickly the candy melts hardened so that I could decorate right away. I also like that they weren't flavored so I didn't have to worry about that as well. I found a new, fun, medium to work with in my cupcake decorating.

Here is just the "fur"

Cookie Monster!

William knew exactly who the cupcakes were supposed to be. It was awesome to see how excited he got over the cupcakes. Elmo's nose it a DOT cut in half.

Ready for the party!

William eating his Cookie Monster cupcake.

I also decided to make cupcakes for Easter. These were amazing. They were Chocolate cupcakes with a Cadbury Egg inside. I made little bunny butts and feet to go on top to look like the bunny had it's head down in the cupcake. Using the same tip as the fur, I made grass on top as well. I thought they came out pretty cute. They were very, very rich though. 
Those are bunny feet, not the mask from "Scream"
I really like making cupcakes. I am thinking about taking the Wilton cake/cupcake decorating classes that are available. I think it would be a lot of fun, and I could use the extra practice in decorating.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hector's Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Every year in December a friend of mine hosts a Christmas get together and potluck. The last couple of years have had themes. This year was "Feliz Navidad." I thought that I could go to Pinterest and find something suitable, or I could ask my friend Hector if he had any good, tried and true recipes. I am glad I went the route of Hector because this is one tasty dish! I hadn't made it since the potluck, until the unseasonably chilly weather has had me craving some comfort foods. Now, with Hector's permission I give you his Chicken Enchilada Casserole!

Hector's Chicken Enchilada Casserole
12 corn tortillas
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 can chopped green chilies
1 can chicken broth
3 chicken breasts
2 bags (2 cup size) of graded cheese (Mexican Blend)
oil ( vegetable or olive)

1. Boil and shred chicken

2. In a large frying pan combine the cans of chicken and mushroom soup and broth with the green chilies until it boils; remove from heat.

3. Set a 9x13 baking dish nearby so that you can transfer the tortillas quickly.

4. Heat oil in a small frying pan. Place the tortilla in the oil for about 10-15 seconds per side. Transfer tortilla to the large frying pan cream mixture. Let it soak in for a few seconds and transfer to the baking dish.

5. This is a layered dish, so depending on the size of your tortilla you should use about 4 tortillas per layer. Once you have your four, top with shredded chicken and cheese.

6. Keep layering until you are out of chicken. You may want to set aside some cheese to top the dish before baking.
Add one last layer of tortillas, add the rest of the cream mixture from the frying pan into the baking dish and top with cheese.

7. Preheat oven to 325 and bake, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes.

It does take a little bit of time to assemble, but I think it's worth it!

If you are looking for a good dessert to go along with it (I know I was when it was potluck time!) I found this awesome Churro Cheesecake on Pinterest. I did not come home with very many leftovers! I have made it a couple of times since and it is always a hit!

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, March 28, 2014

William update

One cool dude

I did not update after William's Dr. appointments because all the information we were getting was a little overwhelming. A month later and it is still a bit overwhelming. So at his Dr appointment we discussed his delayed walking, his large head, his snoring, and the Dr. discussed him having a speech delay and that he was small (both of which we were not really aware of).
So he had blood drawn to check for some normal stuff for his age, and then some other stuff that could be causing his small stature. He was checked for celiacs which he does not have. I didn't think he did. I wasn't sure that just being short and skinny was enough to have it, but as long as they were taking half his blood anyway, what was another test.
Next was an MRI. They wanted to check and make sure he did not have fluid in/around his brain, which would explain his bigger than average head. He had to be sedated for the procedure, which meant fasting. He is not a happy boy when he is hungry, but who is really? He had the MRI done at Children's hospital in St. Paul. We are so fortune to have so many options so close if needed. MRI came back normal, no fluid and nothing to be concerned about, well except his very large adenoids.
That brought us to ENT. For the past several months William has been snoring pretty badly. He has woken himself up several times because of it. I had not really noticed if he had been pausing with his breathing at night, but I knew that something wasn't quite right. The ENT confirmed that his adenoids were so large that they had created almost complete blockage of his nasal cavity. No wonder saline and a booger sucker didn't really clear up his "stuffy" nose. Luckily the ENT did not think his tonsils were an issue, but did suggest removing the adenoids. We were to meet with audiology in a week or so, so we waited to schedule the surgery in case he needed tubes.
Audiology- because William is speech delayed they wanted to make sure he was hearing ok. Part of the enlarged adenoids  can also cause muffled hearing. Luckily this is not the case for William. His hearing is almost perfect. So we have his surgery scheduled for June to have his adenoids removed.
His walking- William had a PT evaluation done at Gillette in St. Paul about 3 weeks ago. About a week after that evaluation he has made huge improvements in walking, and hasn't even started his therapy yet. (Starts today!) He is now walking short distances independently and will walk holding a hand or finger for longer distances. He still prefers to butt scoot when he wants to get somewhere fast, but he has starting asking to walk places. I am sure with some physical therapy he is going to be cruising passed this milestone.
Neurology- We met with a Neurologist earlier this week to make sure that there isn't any other brain issue causing his gross motor delay. He did not find any "red flags" while checking out William and looking at the MRI. We do need to get a blood test done to check muscles (I guess it can be done via bloodwork?!) and possibly test for fragile X syndrome. He isn't showing a ton of signs that would point to that, but because he is a boy and has motor delay, the Dr wants to check for it.
So what's next? William starts physical therapy this week. It has been mentioned to have him in speech therapy but nothing has come of that yet. I am not sure if someone is going to contact us, or if we have to contact them. I have been waiting to go to his first PT. I wasn't able to go to his evaluation, but Matt did and I think some information may have been lost in translation. There is a lot going on and a lot to take in and we almost have to both be there all the time to catch what the other person misses.
I am very happy with the improvements that William has already made in his walking and I am guessing the PT will be as well. He is very proud of himself. Our lives have been crazy and our calendar is full, but it is good to get this done with now. Hopefully I will be a little better posting updates about all of this.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hearty Italian Sausage Soup

It has been a while since I had time to sit down and crank out a blog post, but that does not mean I haven't been busy! A couple of friends recently welcomed new babies into their families and I brought over a meal for them. This is the soup that I made for them and wanted to share with you. It is great for freezing and makes enough for more than one meal. Plus it is easy and packs in some yummy protein and not too unhealthy.

Hearty Italian Sausage Soup
1 lb Italian sausage (I use the ground kind)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. Olive Oil
2 cans (14.5 oz each) chicken broth
1 soup can of water
1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 cup rotini pasta, uncooked
1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
shredded mozzarella

If you want a heartier soup/stew I use 2 cans of the beans and the whole box of the pasta but keep everything the same. I have also switched out diced tomatoes for stewed because I am not a fan of tomatoes especially when they are that big

1. Brown sausage, onions and garlic in the olive oil in a large saucepan until no longer pink
2. Add chicken broth, beans, tomatoes and water and brig to a boil.
3. Stir in pasta and cook until tender. Remove from the heat.
4. Stir in spinach and cover. Let stand for 5 minutes.
5. Top servings with shredded cheese.

That's it! How easy can it get! I put mine into little rubbermaid containers. That way the new family could either keep them and reuse them, or toss them out. No need to get your container back. You could go all out and make some bread and a dessert to go along with the soup and really brighten their day. It also works well to have on hand for a quick weeknight dinner, so you don't have to just give it away.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Appointments and more appointments

Things have been crazy busy the last few days. William has had several appointments and has more to come. So far this week (and it is only Tuesday) he has been to the chiropractor and the dentist.

The chiropractor visit went well. William is a very slow walker and I have been meaning to have him go to the chiropractor basically since he was born to have everything checked out. Birth can be quite an experience for babies and especially since it was 36 hours and he got stuck. As I figured he does have a few tight spots. 2 that were especially noticeable to the Dr. and that I was given some exercises at home to work on with him. His left hip is out of place and his right jaw/cheek is very tight. Luckily little kids muscles can change very quickly and with just a little bit of massage/pressure we should be able to see some improvement. We are going back for a followup on Thursday.

Then to the dentist. This was his second visit and it was just for a cleaning. William has an upper lip tie. This has caused some problems for him. I wish I would have known in the beginning what it was and that he had it because it would have saved us a lot of troubles early on with breastfeeding. Lucky for us I am very stubborn and William compensated for it and we were successful. Another problem with lip tie is that he is not able to clean his teeth with his tongue like most everyone else. He has already had some plaque buildup and is showing early signs of potential cavities. So now we get to try flossing his teeth. With a nearly 2 year old, this sounds like a major challenge. Hopefully he will grow to like it as much as he likes having his teeth brushed.

William is serious about oral health!
Next we have a Dr appointment to discuss his late walking. He can walk unassisted but not very far, and only when he feels like it. He enjoys walking with our help or cruising around the couch or coffee table. We will see what the Dr. has to say about it all, and maybe see about physical therapy. It's been a long week already, but William has been a champ about it all.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Salsa Chicken

I love a super easy, very few ingredient, meal. This is one that I have been making for a while. It is a nice go to when I didn't plan ahead, or don't want to go shopping to get supplies for something more elaborate. You can't go wrong with only needing three ingredients, and they are something most people already have at home. It doesn't look pretty, but it is very tasty!

Salsa Chicken
Boneless, skinless Chicken Breast, thawed (However many you need to feed your family)
Shredded Cheese (I use the Mexican blend)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. (Size of baking dish will depend on how many chicken breasts you use)
Place chicken breast in prepared baking dish
Top Chicken with enough salsa to cover each breast
Top with cheese (If you are anything like me, there is no such thing as too much cheese)
Cover baking dish with tin foil and bake for 40 minutes or until the juices from the chicken run clear.

I typically serve with corn or mixed vegetables. Spanish rice is another nice side. I really like how the salsa helps maintain the juiciness of the chicken.


Do you have a favorite quick and easy weeknight meal that is your go-to?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ranch Mac and Cheese

I've been meaning to make this version of Mac and Cheese for almost a week now, but we haven't been home for meals, or Matt has wanted something else, so it got put off. Finally today was the day to make it.
I did not get very good pictures because William decided that he wasn't feeling well and wanted to be held while I started dinner. Luckily I was able to distract him with a banana half way through.

When I first saw this version I figured it would be pretty tasty. I was not expecting the seasonings to do as much as they did to flavor it they way they did. It is a nice, flavorful alternative to the normal mac and cheese, or Kraft Mac and Cheese. You should have most, if not all, of the ingredients already at your house, making this the perfect quick weeknight dinner.

Ranch Mac and Cheese                            8 servings
1 (16 oz) package elbow macaroni
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 envelope dry ranch dressing mix
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp garlic pepper blend
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded Colby cheese
1 cup (8oz) sour cream
1/2 cup crushed saltine crackers
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook macaroni according to package and drain.
Combine the milk, butter, dressing mix, and seasonings and heat through.
Stir in the Monterey Jack and Colby cheeses until melted.
Stir in sour cream

Add macaroni to the cheese sauce with the saltines.
Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

I chose to get the "Mac and Cheese" blend of shredded cheese instead of the Monterey and Colby cheeses.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Work in Progress- William's stocking

I don't get a lot of time to work on my cross stitching but the last 2 days I got a couple hours to work on it. I have never done one that is this complex but I am pretty excited for the final product. I didn't want to just buy any old stocking at Target for William for Christmas. I figured it would be much cooler if it was something that I made. My friend Krista had been posting progress of the stocking she was doing for her daughter and I was inspired. I knew I could cross stitch and figured that would be the perfect thing to do for William.
Luckily for me he doesn't understand the whole stocking thing yet since I am no where near finished. I am hoping to have it done by next Christmas. Pretty lofty goal since I only get to work on it sporadically for an hour here and there. I will get there eventually though.

The final product will be a stack of several animals. (Bird, Penguin, baby Polar Bear and Polar Bear) Like I mentioned, I have never done one this complex. By complex I mean having 2 different color strands of floss, all the highlight and shadow stuff, and it will also involve sewing. I am hoping to get into some sewing even though I have told myself over and over again that I really don't need that extra hobby and that I should stick to what I already know. Of course Pinterest likes to tell me differently and lures me in with all the amazing pins of things that I could make. 
I hope to continue to post updates on the progress here. Maybe it will keep me motivated and on track of my goal to finish in just under a year. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Piano craft

Now that Christmas is done, and the gift has been given I can write about the craft project I made for my mom. My mom is a piano teacher out of her home. I saw something that used a rubber stamp of music staffs on a white wooden letter. I thought it was really cute. I debated doing her initials, and then thought a bit more about her studio space and decided to spell out "PIANO." I also decided to get sheet music and use that to decorate the letters.
I found "exciting" music to use since I figured it would be more visually appealing to see the staff full of notes instead of a simple song. I cut the sheet music into strips that were as wide as there were notes. (about 2.5" depending on the song)
I didn't take pictures of the process, which I should have. I got white letters from Michael's and used Mod Podge to attach the music to the letters. I kept the strips long and then used an exacto knife to trim the edges once it was dry. I also applied a layer of Mod Podge to the top to finish it and seal it. I painted around the edge and about 1/4" in on all the edges so that it would allow the music to pop. I also found some ribbon that had a music staff and hot glued that on each letter to make it into a hanger. Mom loved it! Given the space that she used for hanging it, the ribbon didn't work out, but I think it still looks good.

with ribbon

all hung up

Perfect gift for the music lover in your family. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tortellini soup

This has to be one of my favorite soups to make. It is really easy and tastes so good. Plus it is very filling!
I first had this soup several years ago at a Christmas gathering at my aunt's house. I emailed her almost as soon as I got home to get the recipe and I have been making it ever since.
Hope you enjoy!

Ronnie's Tortellini Soup
Serves 4-5

3 cups water
2 cans tomato soup
1 large package 3 cheese pre-cooked tortellini (found in the refrigerated section by the cheese normally. I ended up with "rainbow" tortellini because Target was out of my regular kind. I kind of like how colorful it made it look)
1 lb hot Italian sausage (Any Italian sausage works if you aren't a fan of the hot, or like me, have a baby eating it too)
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp dry basil
1tsp oregano
2 carrots, sliced (I use baby carrots because that is what I have on hand)
1 zucchini, sliced

Brown meat and onion and drain off the extra fat.

Mix everything together in a large pot except tortellini and zucchini. Bring to a boil and let simmer until carrots are just about cooked.

Add tortellini and when they are just about cooked (they will puff up) add the zucchini.

Cook an additional 3-5 min until the zucchini is somewhat transparent. The thicker you slice your zucchini the less transparent it will get. I try to go for a thin slice, but not super thin as you can see in the picture.

Pretty easy for a yummy comforting soup. It is so thick it is almost stew like. Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Chicken Wild Rice

As a Minnesotan I am pretty sure it is a prerequisite that we make Chicken Wild Rice at least once in our lifetime, if not once a week in the winter. Ok, not that frequently, but it is a great comfort food. I found the original recipe that I used here. I have made a few changes, mostly not worrying about making it "skinny." I really should, but for whatever reason I really don't look for the reduced anything cans when buying the soup.
Before I get into the recipe I will add a picture of my helper.

First the ingredients:
5-6 boneless, skinless Chicken breasts
1 cup Wild rice
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1 can Cream of Celery soup
1 can of water
1 package of onion soup mix
fresh mushrooms  (This is a change from the original recipe. I had them sitting around and thought why not use them in this as well.)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Mix everything except the chicken breasts together

mmm looks pretty

3. Place the rice mixture in a 9x13 baking dish
4. Place the Chicken Breasts on top of the rice mix and cover with aluminum foil.
5. Bake for 1 hour covered
6. Remove cover and bake an additional 30 minutes


7. Mix/Shred the chicken and serve hot.

I love how easy this is to make. I used to be intimidated by Wild rice because I wasn't really sure what to do with it. I also like that it doesn't require a lot of ingredients and what it does call for I usually have on hand. Hope you enjoy it!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Children's Book Themed Baby Shower

Early in November I threw a shower for a friend of mine. This was my first full fledged "theme" shower. I had thrown showers before but none had any sort of theme. It was show up, eat food, play a couple games and open presents. The biggest difference was, that was before Pinterest. So after checking out various ideas for possible themes we agreed that a book theme would be the most fun to put together.
I really had a ton of fun working on this shower. I LOVE to plan parties and get everything together for it, and I really love seeing how much other people enjoy it.
I loved (and still love) the Little Golden Books growing up, so when I saw this invitation on Etsy, I knew I had to have it. Plus it is so bright and cheerful!

I used some of William's book collection to decorate.

All the food had a book theme as well.

There was:
Make Way For Ducklings punch
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Strega Nona's pasta salad
Very Hungry Caterpillar fruit salad
Three Little Pigs Ham sandwiches
Blueberries for Sal Blueberry mini cheesecakes
Peter Rabbit  Vegetables

And very special cookies from a special friend of mine at Fig Tales
How cute are these?? They are little Peter Rabbits. They were very tasty as well!

As per the mom-to-be's request, I chose games that were more "thinking" games rather than the traditional, guess the baby food or fake poopy diapers. They went over really well and people really had to think. The first game was "Alternative Children's book titles", I found here:
This was a lot of fun. It's harder than it seems too, especially if you have an older audience or an audience without kids.
The second game I came up with myself. It was a name the book from the quote. This was also a little harder than I expected. I thought that I had chosen a good mix of easy and hard, but I did not know my audience.

My favorite part of the shower had to be the craft that I planned. It was a great time filler and ice breaker. I saw on Etsy that someone was selling wooden blocks with Children's story book characters on them. They had been cut out of various books and attached to the wood blocks. What an awesome way to personalize a cute/functional toy for baby!! The blocks were hard to find. I checked JoAnn's and Michael's and Hub Hobby, but they all only had 1" blocks or smaller. I knew that was too small for a baby toy. A quick search online and I had exactly what I was looking for! has wholesale wood parts and at very good prices. I think I will save the how I made the blocks for another post, but here is the finished product.

I think it went really well. I am glad I took the plunge into themed baby showers.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Finally getting started

I signed up for this blog years ago, but never did anything with it. My how things have changed since July of 2010 when I first signed up. At that point I had just found out that I was pregnant after a miscarriage, so I was excited, but still worried. Now I have a very active almost 21 month old. I hadn't yet joined Pinterest and had no idea of all the fun, creative things that I would find there. We hadn't bought our pop-up camper (We just got that Oct of 2013) and so I wouldn't have been able to write about all the renovations that I *hope* to do with it.
So new year, start of 2014, why not give this blog thing another go. I hope to write about my adventures with the camper, and have a place to tell all the funny William stories since I am horrible at filling out his baby book, and of course, a place to talk about my Pinterest success and fails.
So I might as well start out with one of my Pinterest successes. We have an unfinished basement which is kind of a pit of all things that don't have a place in the rest of the house. Under the stairs has been our storage for Christmas things. The wrapping paper and gift bags had gotten out of control down there. I came across this blog while surfing Pinterest and knew exactly what had to be done.
So off to Target I went to get a storage bin. Wait, take that back. I went to JoAnn's first because the bins were 40% off and I had a coupon for an additional 10% off regular and sale price. Yay coupons! The bin I found wasn't exactly what I had wanted, but I got it anyway. I had to go to Target for my other usual shopping and ran across the storage bins there, and they were half the price of JoAnn's! So I got my bin at Target. We already had a label maker, but for some odd reason hadn't used it. (Goal for 2014, use label maker more to be more organized.) So I got to work cleaning out that little disaster of a corner.
I did not take before pictures, as it was far too embarrassing of a mess. But I did take a semi finished product picture. There is still more to go, and I need to get another storage bin, but it is so much better than it had been.
Check out that organization!! Yes, I have a lot of wrapping paper, but I really like all the pretty patterns and colors that they come out with every year. Not to mention I need special Santa paper. So that got Matt started in wanting to organize the disaster of a basement. Yay! Now let's hope we can keep on track of this cleaning and organizing the basement. I have a small craft corner down there that hasn't been touched since before William was born that REALLY needs to be cleaned and organized. Once I can get to it that will be my next project. Also I should mention that it is really cold down there and not really a spot for William to play, so the organizing is slow going. 
I have a goal of organizing the basement and a goal of keeping up with this blog. Let's hope I keep up with both of them!