First of all

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Open House 2morrow

It's the home stretch of Spring Break, or so I've decided that is how I am looking at it.  Tomorrow is my Spring Open House (no fooling) and then saturday is our 12th anniversary.  How are we going to celebrate?  My DH is picking up his nephew (he lives in a group home) and his other nephew and they are coming over here for the evening.  Great way to spend our anniversary, I say with very very little enthusiam, but w/o going over the line into seriously crabby saracasm.  I am very proud of my restraint.

Now back to my open house.  Turns out as I review the recipes for posting below,  I accidently left out a step on my cake lollipop making.  I was supposed to put in the sticks before chilling, not wait until tomorrow.  Hopefully the darn things will stick on the sticks.

Wish me luck. 

Pop Quiz:
Do you think that I realized that April 1st was part of Spring Break when I picked that day for my open house?

Answer: Of course I didn't.  I thought April 1st would be good because Spring Break was in March not April, not realizing that Spring Break started in March but end in April.  Good thing the basement is ready for the children's banishment.

Awesome Pulled Chicken

3lbs boneless chicken
½ bottle Awesome American BBQ Sauce

Add chicken to slow cooker pour BBQ sauce over the top and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Then shred chicken re-mix w/juices and serve on buns.

Honey Teriyaki Bacon Bites
Submitted by Jo Wolanski (NJ)

2 lbs. boneless, skinless, cubed chicken breasts
1 lb. sliced bacon
Honey Teriyaki Sauce

Wrap each chicken cube with 1/2 slice bacon; slide onto skewers. Brush generously with Honey Teriyaki Sauce; marinate 20 minutes. Grill until golden brown. Makes 4-6 servings.

Tempting Taco Pinwheels
Submitted by Rosemary (MN) HQ Resident Chef

Tempting Taco Cheese Ball Mix™
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
6 oz. pkg. deli-sliced smoked turkey, diced
6 flour tortillas

Combine first 3 ingredients; fold in turkey. Divide mixture evenly among tortillas; spread to edges. Roll up tortillas; wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 2 hours. Cut into 1-inch slices. Makes 8-10 servings.

Instant Ole Ole Fiesta Dip
Submitted by Rosemary (MN) HQ Resident Chef

8 oz. cream cheese
3-4 Tbsp. Olé Olé Fiesta Sauce
3 tbsp sliced green onions
1 Tbsp. sliced black olives

Blue Aztec Chips or tortilla chips

Place cream cheese on a small serving plat; drizzle with Olé Olé Fiesta Sauce. Sprinkle with tomatoes and olives; serve with Blue Aztec Chips or tortilla chips. Makes 8-10 servings.

Cutie Cake Lollipops
Submitted by Rosemary (MN) HQ Resident Chef

Absolutely Almond Pound Cake Mix™
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) melted butter
1 cup water

16 oz. container cream cheese frosting
Sprinkles or sanding sugar for decorating
1 lb. 4 oz. package white almond bark

60 lollipop sticks


Preheat oven to 350°. Combine first 3 ingredients; stir to blend. Pour batter into a greased 9x13 baking pan. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and top is nicely browned. Cool completely.

Break pound cake into crumbs with a fork until you have small, uniform crumbs (the smaller the better for smooth lollipops). With a sturdy spoon, stir in 3/4 of the cream cheese frosting; stir until a stiff dough forms.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls; insert a lollipop stick into each ball. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cover; chill 1 hour.

Melt almond bark as directed on package; pour into a small deep bowl. Dip each lollipop into the warm almond bark. Set on wax paper-lined baking sheet. Continue with the remaining lollipops. Decorate each with sprinkles, sanding sugar or a drizzle of melted brown almond bark. Makes about 5 dozen (60) lollipops.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring break day 2

Well here I am at PGN, mini golf, arcade & indoor playground. I tried, obviously unsucessfully, to get out of having to come here.

Maybe you are thinking, Victoria don't you enjoy spending time with your children? Of course I do! Well mostly I do. The begging for tokens and French fries I can do without---and the piercing screams of preschoolers not wanting to leave.

It's still too cold outside to believe that Spring is here. I heard the weatherman say no above average temps are in our future for at least the next two weeks. Then I threw out the radio. No not really---did turn it off though.

Just told Patrick I am going to keep track of how many times he tells me he is hungry or asks why we can't get food from here and when he gets to 10 we are leaving. So far the count is 4.

Yesterday I was on and saw that Charlaine Harris author of the books I was talking about yesterday, is doing a book tour and found she is coming to Chicagoland. Yippee!!! I'm going to get the new book Dead Reckoning signed! Also saw there is an excerpt of the new book (release date 5/3/11) on the publishers website (penguin) It's the whole chapter 3. Oooo ahhh love it!

Here is Patrick now...I'm ready for whining about nachos...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cold Cold Spring Break

Dead to the World (Original MM Art): A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood)

Alright, I need to take a moment and complain about the weather.  That's what we do here in Chicago. Forecast is in the 30Fs all week. Being that I could spend all winter huddled in bed reading books and sleeping, this weather isn't conducive to me changing out of fleecy pjs.

The children however, need to get out and should have some activities going on during their week break from school.  In retrospect, I should have seen about going down to GA to visit my family.  That would have been fun for the kids and refreshing for me. Temps in N. Georgia this week, well shoot the weather isn't very good there either.  Well back to our Spring Break here.  Since I know how I am about going out doing stuff in the cold, I talked with the kids and planned an activity a day for Mon-Thurs knowing that their nagging would get us out of the house.  Today's activity is a trip to the library--nice free activity. 

What am I reading now?  After re-reading Club Dead over the weekend, I want to dive into re-reading Dead to The World as I go through the Southern Vampire Mystery/Sookie Stackhouse Novels on my personal countdown to book #11, Dead Reckoning which will be out on 5/3.  Nod, yes, you are correct I am way to into the series--and a total Sookie/Eric shipper.  Much to my current dismay, Dead to the World is checked out of my library.  Boo.  Now I have to wait. 

What's for dinner?  I've been meal planning and it should be Garlic Roasted Chicken with mashed potatoes and green breans.  But since we weren't home last night--we didn't have Sunday's dinner of pizza set-ups from S&T's--so it's Pizza Monday.

I've held out as long as I could and now the natives are running around outside yelling and chasing each other, time to head out to the library.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Talk about Mondays

I have been working on having systems and routines to get my life and our household more organized.  So for example, we have a electronics ban from after school until 5pm daily.  The kids come home and we get right to a snack and homework.  Another one was to start a bath or shower) schedule. (Tues, Thurs & Sat) now there is way less drama from Bryce on the horrors of having to take a bath.

I was feeling pretty good about the schedule, feeling like I was on top of things.  Then Patrick walked up the front steps today after school, and he was wearing his Phineas & Ferb PJ bottoms.

Yep that's right.  He went to school wearing his pajama pants because he forgot to change them this morning.  All day in the pj bottoms in the 5th grade.  Oh I feel bad.  I know it's not my fault really, he is quite old enough to manage to put on clothes and go to school. He remembered his lunch and forgot to change his pants.

I still feel bad because I didn't notice this morning! 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sometimes living in Illinois just blows.

As if the crappy winters weren't enough, and the higher property taxes/lower property values AND the increase on state income tax from 3.5% to this...


For well over a decade, the Amazon Associates Program has worked with thousands of Illinois residents. Unfortunately, a new state tax law signed by Governor Quinn compels us to terminate this program for Illinois-based participants. It specifically imposes the collection of taxes from consumers on sales by online retailers - including but not limited to those referred by Illinois-based affiliates like you - even if those retailers have no physical presence in the state.

We had opposed this new tax law because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive. It was supported by national retailing chains, most of which are based outside Illinois, that seek to harm the affiliate advertising programs of their competitors. Similar legislation in other states has led to job and income losses, and little, if any, new tax revenue. We deeply regret that its enactment forces this action.

As a result of the new law, contracts with all Illinois affiliates of the Amazon Associates Program will be terminated and those Illinois residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to,, or Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned prior to April 15, 2011 will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule. Based on your account closure date of April 15, 2011, any final payments will be paid by July 1, 2011.

You are receiving this email because our records indicate that you are a resident of Illinois. If you are not currently a permanent resident of Illinois, or if you are relocating to another state in the near future, you can manage the details of your Associates account here. And if you relocate to another state after April 15, please contact us for reinstatement into the Amazon Associates Program.

To be clear, this development will only impact our ability to continue the Associates Program in Illinois, and will not affect the ability of Illinois residents to purchase online at from Amazon’s retail business.

We have enjoyed working with you and other Illinois-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program and, if this situation is rectified, would very much welcome the opportunity to re-open our Associates Program to Illinois residents.

The Amazon Associates Team

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday

And so today is Fat Tuesday, and around Chicagoland it is all about the paczkis.  Paczkis are not pronounced like it looks.  According to Wikipedia it is pronounced paunch-key. But I've  also hear it pronounced more like punt-key.  In any case, it's big jelly or custard filled doughnuts people eat on Fat Thursday (thurs b/4 lent) or Fat Tuesday (day b/4 Ash Wed.). Cept here in Chicagoland people eat them on both days because, hey who wants to turn down the opportunity to have a nice big filled doughnut, right? 

Personally I've never had one, I don't like filling in my doughnuts.  Instead to celebrate Fat Tuesday, I gave in to my chocolate craving and bought chocolate easter eggs.  Yum.

We have to pick Tom up from the airport tonight, he is on his way home from NYC. Last week when we were talking about him going out of town it seemed like a fine idea to pick him up from the airport vrs. having a cab bring him home.  Now that the time is here, I really don't want to go to the airport, and there is no gas in the car.  So I have to stop and get gas b/4 going to the airport.  Blah.

Am I going to fill the tank up?  Oh no, I can't deal with putting more than $20-25 in the gas tank at a time.  I would cry to see how much it costs to fill it up, at least we get good gas mileage. Still would have been better to encourage Tom to take a cab, it's cold outside.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pulaski Day

Here in the Chicagoland Area, kids get Casmir Pulaski day off school.  Who is C. Pulaski, he is a polish Revolutionary War hero.  Im sure you can find out more about that on wiki.  So now thanks to a 3-day weekend, all 3 of the kids have declared that they don't want to go back to school. *Sigh* this will make tommorrow morning a bit harder. Even Anna is on the No School Forever bandwagon, which is a suprise b/cause she loves her teacher and wants to be a teacher.  I better go reminder her of that...

And speaking of Anna here is a little something she wrote at school.

I wish it would rain kittens.
I would grab one and take care of it.
I would buy a leash.
I would buy food.
I would take him for a walk.

Too funny I don't know if she thinks people take cats for walks or if she started writing got distracted and switch her thoughts from having a kitten to having a puppy. 

I'm voting for neither.  Too much to clean up around here already.

This recipe popped up on my facebook news feed from Food & Wine Magazine, so I am just about to go make it.  It's a crummy late winter day here, one with gloomy skies and cold temps. This recipe pairs well with this weather. 

Winter-Vegetable Shepherd's Pie
2 lbs baking potatoes (about 4 potatoes) peeled and cut into large pieces
1 1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
1 cup heavy cream (I  don't have any of that so I will improvise)
6 tbsp butter
2 large onions, sliced
1 tsp Garlic Garlic or 1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups sliced mixed winter vegetables such as celery, turnips, brussel sprouts, parsnips, fennel, cabbage or celery root.
2 carrots, sliced
1/4 tsp dried thyme...I think I am going to put in a wee bit of rosemary.
3 cups chix broth or veggie broth


1.Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and put them back into the saucepan along with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Mash the potatoes over very low heat, gradually incorporating the cream and 4 tablespoons of the butter. Cover and set aside.
*Like I said I don't have any cream on hand, I'll use some milk.

2.Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over moderately low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the sliced mixed vegetables, carrots, thyme, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Mix well.
* I am going to use the Tastefully Simple Roasted Garlic Infused Oil instead of butter to sautee.

3.Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer. Cook over moderate heat, covered, until the vegetables start to soften, 5 to 10 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to moderately high, and cook until the vegetables are tender and almost no liquid remains in the pan, about 10 minutes longer.

4.Heat the broiler. Transfer the vegetables to a 9-inch pie plate, spread the potatoes over the top, and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What's new?

Woo hoo, February is over!  Meterogical Spring is here! Okay so it is going snow and ice for the next 10 days or so, but at least February is over.  I saw this on the website and thought it was a good idea, so I wanted to share:

Magically Self-Sorting Socks

When the whole family has socks in the same load of laundry, trying to find matching pairs takes forever. Instead, get each family member a different color mesh laundry bag suitable for the washer and dryer. When socks need laundering, each person places both light and dark socks together in his or her own bag. No need to separate them because when you toss the bags into the washer, an added Shout® Color Catcher® sheet will absorb any dyes in the water. When the socks are dry, return the bags to their original owners for sorting.

A mesh laundry bag for socks who would have thought!

*** March 1st is not only the start of Meterological Spring but also the start of the new Tastefully Simple Spring Line !  Tonight I used some of the new products in Chicken Enchiladas.  I took refried beans and mixed them with some of the Simply Southwest Seasoning & Rub (can't wait to try that on grilled chicken!). I added some cooked chicken , diced red bell pepper and onion.  Put that in tortillas, dolloped on the Vine Ripened Salsa and rolled them up for Tom's mozarella topped enchiladas.  For mine I added a couple tbsp of prepared with cream cheese Hoppin Jalapeno & Bacon Dip and then over the top I pour my new favorite Tastefully Simple Sauce the Ole Ole Fiesta Sauce .  Pop that in the oven and 1/2 hour later dinner is served and it's even better than the Enchiladas I could go get from Pepes Restaurant.

Another bonus to Chicken Enchiladas is it's so easy to make plenty for dinner and have enough left over for lunch too.  So that's what for lunch 2morrow.

What's for dinner tomorrow?  I'm not sure yet.