Monday, January 31, 2011

Ultimate Super Bowl Party Recipes

With the Super Bowl coming up on Sunday, I thought it would be great to highlight some recipes that would be great for the big game. I don't know about you, but my favorite part of the Super Bowl is watching the commercials and eating a variety of foods :)

All of these have been posted already on our blog before, so you just need to click on the pic for the recipe. Eat Up!

Main Course:

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Spicy Cheeseburger Soup

Side Dishes:

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Cowboy Salsa

Spicy Popcorn

Anne's Taco Dip

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

Crispy Chicken Nuggets


Almond Joy Bars

Super Fast Everything Bars

Monster Cookies


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Comfort Hamburger Casserole

On cold Minnesota nights, this casserole is great for some comfort food that warms your belly.

It's one of my favorite recipes because each member can change it to make it the way they like. My husband likes it spicy, I like it garlicky, and my kids like it plain. The ingredients are inexpensive and prep time is about 10 minutes, which is great for you Moms out there.

1 pound of ground hamburger
10 small red potatoes (diced to bite sized pieces)
1 can cream mushroom soup
1/2 can water
salt and pepper

Optional Ingredients
garlic powder
cayenne pepper
shredded cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Brown your hamburger meat in skillet.
3. While the hamburger meat is browning, cut potatoes into bite sized pieces.
4. When hamburger is cooked, drain grease and combine with potatoes, cream of mushroom soup, water, salt, and pepper in a medium casserole dish.
5. Bake for 30 minutes covered with foil. Remove foil and continue to bake until potatoes are tender.

The optional ingredients of cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and cheese can be added in after the dish has baked. Everyone in your family can customize the recipe for their taste. It should serve a family of four with really large helpings.

Serve with a side of whatever frozen vegetables that you can get on sale and some apple sauce.
Overall, it's a cheap and easy meal for the family that warms bellies on a cold day.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bathroom #3 Remodel Complete

It is finally finished...the remodeling of the third bathroom. I started writing about this bathroom remodel over a month ago, but due to my laziness (and a personal situation that I will go into a few months from now) I have not been able to show you the finished results. The bathroom has been done now for about three weeks and we are in love with the results!

This bathroom is on the main floor of the house and it is just a half bath, which made the remodel go much faster. The room was much like the others in this house-- dated wallpaper and light fixture. However, this bathroom we had one additional problem that the other two didn't have, a leaky toilet.

Not too long after we bought the house I was cleaning the floor and discovered that the floor was sinking in behind the toilet. The toilet must have been leaking for years. It turns out the leak was in the tank. The good, handyman hubby that I have took the toilet apart and replaced the rubber ring between the tank and bowl, which fixed the leak. The floor was really damaged, so the hubby had to tear out the floor down to the joists of the house and replace it. It was quite the process and I can say that I watched in awe as he did his manly handyman project.
Next, he tiled the floor and it really turned out looking great! We chose a porcelain tile for this bathroom. Here's a nice pic of the tile:
After the floor was tiled, we painted the walls, hung a curtain, replace the light fixture, refinished the wood, reinstalled the trim and chair rail, changed out the handles on the cupboard, and reinstalled the toilet.

Here is the bathroom before:

And here is the bathroom after (sorry the angle of the room makes it tough for a good picture):

I am happy to say we have another room down, which means that we have four major rooms to go: living room, upstairs guest room, master bathroom, and the basement bathroom. After we get those rooms all finished, who knows what we will do with our free time. We have been talking about building a wine cellar, but I guess we will see when the time comes!


Monday, January 17, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken tortilla soup is probably my FAVORITE soup! In fact this recipe even helped me win 1st place at a soup cook off. My lovely M.I.L. (Terri) gave me this recipe and Nathan and I have made a few little tweaks over the years. This is easy to make and a delicious crowd-pleaser. So if you're looking for something easy and delicious, look no further!

1 Can of Fiesta Nacho Soup
2 Chicken Breasts cooked and shredded*
1 Can of Green Chile Enchilada Sauce
1 Cup of Milk
1 Cup of Salsa (make the soup as mild or spicy by the salsa you use)
1 Can of Corn
1 Can of Black Beans
Shredded Cheddar Cheese & Tortilla Chips for topping
Mix together until warm

*If you're in a pinch simply use 1 can of chicken (it is a bit saltier though) OR plan ahead by placing the chicken breasts in some chicken stock and letting them set in the Crockpot for 3 hours. When they are finished they will pull apart and shred easily.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Baby Supply List

I had a request a while back to write a couple more blogs on having a baby. Luci wrote a blog with a list of necessities for the beginning family that was very handy! Since having my own child, I have found a couple more items I would add to the list. They have all been a tremendous help in the new baby process.

Ninja Shirts

We call them Ninja shirts because they look like something a ninja would wear. However, Gerber calls them side-snap shirts. At night, when our little guy was a newborn, we would put him in one of these shirts, his diaper, and a blanket. It made changing easier at night. Plus, a newborns neck is so 'floppy' that pulling a onesie over their head can be quite the task.

Lamp Dimmer Switch

There is nothing worse than sleeping and having someone flip on a super bright light. That is why I LOVE this little dimmer switch for lamps. When I needed to feed him in the middle of the night, this little switch allowed me just enough light without completely waking me, the baby or my husband up.

Steamer Bags

At first, I bought online this super fancy microwave steamer container for my bottles. When I got it in the mail I realized it took up a ton of space and cost quite a bit of money ($30) and I wanted to return it right away. I was telling my friend about how big it was and I really didn't want something that big in my kitchen and she suggested steamer bags. I had never heard of them before and they have been a life saver! At around $8 for six bags (which are reusable) you just can't beat it!

In Bed Sleeper

When you first bring home your baby you will be very tired and probably up every 2 hours feeding him or her. I found this sleeper that allows your infant to sleep in the bed with you. This little contraption allows you to feed, change and watch baby without getting out of bed. It has a little barrier for the sides that help keep baby safe while you sleep. Also, there is a built in nightlight that really makes it easy for things you might need to do in the night. Your husband might not like this little contraption if you plan on sleeping in the same bed. My husband works night shift sometimes, so this ended up being a pretty handy item for me. Since my little guy has gotten older, I like using it for afternoon naps. Naps with you baby can be quite long as they sleep.

Pumping Bra

Ok, if you are a guy and reading this blog you might just want to skip this's a little embarrassing. For all you ladies out there, pumping is something you almost can't avoid when having a child and it takes up a ton of time! Most pumping machines give you these little funnels that you hold up to pump and it really ties your hands up. I suggest either purchasing a bra like the one above or making your own. I just took a old bra, which had a foam lining in the cups, and cut circles out of it. It now allows me to pump while reading a book or playing on the computer. Very handy!

Milk Storage Bags

The name says it all. These bags are great! They are a thicker plastic so they don't leak. They lay flat for easy storage in the freezer, taking up less space and making them easier to thaw. Also, they have this tab on the outside that you can write on the date and ounces, which really comes in handy.

No, they are not a sponsor of this site. I am writing this just out of pure joy and appreciation for this site. They offer the cheapest diapers, give you rebates, and deliver super fast. I order all my diapers, milk storage bags, and wipes from this site. I absolutely love them!

Baby Einstein Albums

I don't know what it is about this music, but my little guy really loves it. He can be crying and fussy, I just turn this on and he just is so intrigued by the sounds. He even has his favorite song, Trish-Trash Polka, which makes him laugh hysterically. I have both of these albums above (there are many out there) and use them each at different times. The lullabies I play at nap time and the traveling melodies is pretty much any other time.

Misc Items
There are always other items that we find our child loves, but it really depends on your child's preferences and all children are different. For instance, our little guy LOVES his swing but our friend's daughter didn't like hers. She loved her bumbo and our guy is really not a fan. My suggestion is only buy a couple of these at a time and try to get most of them second hand. It will save you money and prevent you from having your house overran with baby items that don't get much use.

Hope this helps some of you new and expecting mothers out there! Being a Mom is the greatest feeling in the world but can be challenging at time. Having little items that help you out can be a Godsend. If any of you readers out there have any more suggestions, please feel free to comment below.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Fast and Easy Curtain

We are finally finished with the remodel of the other half bath on the main floor. I was wanting a curtain for the room, so I looked through my scraps of material and found a yard of leftover fabric that matched the room. It is hard to tell from the photos, but it is a brown fabric with light blue designs on it. I had originally purchased the material as a test for the kitchen, but found that it just looked too dark in the room. It was the perfect way to use up the material!

This tutorial is the fastest curtain ever! From start to finish, it took about 15 minutes. By the way, if you don't have a sewing machine you can use iron on tape. I recently purchased a sewing machine, but for all my other curtains I have made I used iron on tape.

First, lay your material out flat. You will have to determine how much material you need for your size of window. The window I had was small, so a yard is enough. Rule of thumb is to get the material the length of your window plus your pocket height times two and add an extra four inches for the hemming and hanging. For example, if your window is 40 inches long and you need a 4 inch pocket, you would need your material length to be: 40 + 8 + 4 = 52" long.

As for width, I like to make it about 6 inches longer than the window so it will gather a little, it's really up to you.
Next determine your height for your tie-back. This is optional but I think it makes the curtain look more finished. I chose a tie back to be about 2 inches tall, so I cut the material to be about 5 inches tall. Sew a 1 inch hem around the entire length of the material for the window. Make sure you are sewing the hem on the backside of the materiel. You want the nice side facing out. Next, sew your pocket for your rod. My rod is almost 4 inches tall, so I made a four inch pole pocket. Many rods only require 2 inches, so just measure your rod.
Next hang your curtain. You could be finished at this point if you want. I wanted a tie back, so the next steps are for the tie back. Determine the height of your tie back and fold your material to the height you would like it to be. I wanted mine to be about 2 inches tall. Turning your materiel to have the backside facing out, sew along the edge. Turn the material right side out. The seam you sewed should be tucked in now.
With your curtain hanging, wrap your tie back around it and determine the circumference needed for the look you want. Sew the edges together to make the circumference you would like for the tie back.
Trim down the seam and turn the tie back right side out so that the seam is tucked in. It should look like this.
Place it on your curtain and you are finished!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Being A Mother

Many of you know that I have officially been a Mom for 10 weeks now. My friend forwarded me this in an email and I can say that I have never read something that so much that describes the feeling of being a mother. For all you moms out there, enjoy...

We are sitting at lunch when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of "starting a family". "We're taking a survey," she says, half-joking. "Do you think I should have a baby?"

"It will change your life," I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral. "I know," she says, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations...."

But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes. I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but that becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable.

I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking "What if that had been MY child?" That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her. That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of "Mom!" will cause her to drop her best crystal without a moment's hesitation.

I feel I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her baby's sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of her discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.

I want my daughter to know that everyday decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy's desire to go to the men's room rather than the women's at McDonald's will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom.

However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.

Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself. That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give it up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years - not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.

I want her to know that a caesarian scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor. My daughter's relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks. I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child. I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.

I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving. I hope she will understand why I can think rationally about most issues, but become temporarily insane when I discuss the threat of nuclear war to my children's future.

I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike. I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or a cat for the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real, it actually hurts.

My daughter's quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes. "You'll never regret it," I finally say. Then I reach across the table, squeeze my daughter's hand and offer a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all of the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings. This blessed gift from God . . . that of being a Mother.


Monday, January 10, 2011

5 Cute Coats to Heat Up Winter

Well for many of us this time of year means bundling up and gritting your teeth through all the wind and snow. With all the cute coat options out there there's no reason you can't grin and bear the winter in style. Cute coats are one of the few bright spots in winter (well for me anyways). So in attempt to help keep you toasty warm this winter, I've thrown together a few fabulous coats.

1. Camel Colored Coats
Whether you choose a camel colored wool coat or a classic trench this color is everywhere right now. The best part about this trend? The camel colored coat is very "classic." When I was in college my mom bought me a beautiful camel colored wool coat from Banana Republic and said, "It will never go out of style." She was right! The classic silhouette and color made this coat a wonderful investment. So if you've been eying one of those delicious camel-colored coats on winter clearance then take the plunge! I bet you won't regret it.

2. Bright Color
It's easy to gravitate towards moody grays and blacks during the drab winter months. Why not inject some color into the monochromatic winter with a brightly colored coat? This green coat below is offset by a leopard tote with white gloves and a scarf.
Add some warm accents with gold pumps and earrings. And if green is not your color there are many other choices such as bright red or a beautiful cerulean blue.

3. Casual Plaid

Regardless of what colors are involved plaid evokes warmth and a casual comfort. This gray coat has lines of blue and pink that I've played up with a bright blue beanie and pink sweater underneath. Fingerless gloves, wayfarers and gray motorcycle boots keep the look fun and youthful.

4. An Elegant Cape

There is something about a cape that is so completely lady-like and chic. I especially love the look when pairing it with elbow length gloves. I imagine this coat over a sweaterdress and leggings. Top off the look with lace-up booties and a bright tote for a punch of color.

5. Faux Fur Hood
Faux-fur is not just trendy, it keeps you warm! This military green coat with faux-fur trim would look great with aviators and some creamy-heather colored gloves and hat. Duckboots, as seen all over the runways, provide a practical and unintentionally fashionable way to keep your feet warm and dry!

If you're looking for a way to simply spruce up your winter coat without buying a whole new one then look for fun winter accessories. There are a multitude of fun hats, scarves, and gloves in beautiful colors, patterns and textures. For example, I have a plaid wool coat with very faint lines of purple and green (very, very faint lines). A pair of purple gloves would lend a bright new approach without the cost of a brand new coat. If you're already overloaded with hats and mittens why not check out the wide variety of winter foorwear. Cute boots are everywhere you look! I favor UGGs or my trusty black riding boots. There are plenty of options out there that will keep your feet warm and dry while simultaneously pleasing your fashion palate.

I hope these coat ideas were able to provide you with some inspiration. I like to think that the cold winters in South Dakota make us heartier people. Combine this character-building weather with the ability to bundle up in style and you have mid-westerners that are a force to be reckoned with! ;)


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