Thursday, January 31, 2013

I've Been Nominated!

I was sweetly surprised to be nominated for my second Liebster Award by the lovely Ms. Morgan over at Ms. Morgan's Reality Check!  This award is given by bloggers to other bloggers they enjoy with less than 200 followers.  I love this as it helps me think about what kinds of things you might want to know about me - being a mom, it comes much easier to think about what you might want to know about the kids or the recipes!

So to fulfill my duties as a nominee, here are 11 random facts about me...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Healthy Snack Bucket

Having such a large family, holiday gift-giving is often a challenge.  We all want to do something for each other, but finding exactly the right thing for each person with a small budget is very difficult.  As a family of frugal farmer-types, my side of the family often turns to food gifts.  Many times it is an exchange of baked breads, jams, cookies, fudge and other sweet treats.  But this year my grandparents made each family one of my favorites - a bucket full of healthy snacks!  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Candy Creations

Are you and the kids totally bored with winter already?  
Are the below zero temps keeping you locked in?  
Have a big stash of leftover Christmas candy?  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Rare Story of Monoamniotic Twin Boys

Your response to Nathan's story has been tremendous and so I thought I would continue to share with you the stories of the other miracle babies we participate with March of Dimes to honor.  My amazing friend Amanda, my friend since high school, has written her unique story - one of monoamniotic twin boys.  In this rare occurrance in about 1% of all twins, the babies share a single amniotic sac and a single placenta.  This situation was also rare in that nearly 75% of monoamniotic twins are girls.  These boys are fighters like all NICU babies and their adorable grins are sure to make you smile.  They join us on our walk each year and their big sister even fundraises in their honor.

Our goal with these stories is to not only raise funds for March of Dimes through our family team (you can donate here) but to reach out to other NICU families who might be struggling or searching for answers and support.

9 weeks and 6 days early... OMG we made it to less than 10 weeks, this is my thought as I am calling my husband from the hospital as they are prepping myself and our twins for an emergency c-section. 
Let me start from the beginning.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wondering What Happens at the Cabin?

Well...we made these...

Then this guy did this...

Lots of kid cousins making up skits, sledding & playing on the frozen pond (those pics are on my camera so you'll see those next week)...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hockey Rink Cake

So, yes, I am that mom whose kids have 10,000 birthday celebrations - but hey, they are the best accomplishment I have so why not celebrate as much as we can!  This is the cake my Little Man took to daycare to share with his friends.  This one was a lot simpler than the stick & jersey cakes!  

Just a regular boxed cake mix - I always prefer Betty Crocker Moist mixes - they are just so consistent.  Then extra buttercream left from my big batch and smoothed flat for the ice.  A tube of red piping gel, a tube of blue glitter piping gel and some Wilton hard sugar decorations from the store and you are done.  This is a great one to make even for casual weekends where the guys are hanging out watching the Stanley Cup playoffs...or...celebrating the start to the delayed NHL season!  You can see my rink cake from last year here too.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Nathan's Story - An Extreme Preemie

I can't say enough how important I feel March of Dimes has been in my life and the lives of those I have met over the last 12 years.  I want you to understand more deeply why it is so important.  And if you are new parents to a preemie or extreme preemie I want you to know that you are not alone.  I'll be sharing more stories like this one here over the next several weeks so please come back for more.  If these stories touch your heart, please leave a comment of support for others who may be going through similar things and please make a donation in honor of these babies to help March of Dimes continue their research and support.  This link goes to a secure site that is run by March of Dimes - not by me - and your donation goes directly to them.

This is the story of Nathan and his family as written by his mother, Melanie.  Melanie and I have never met in person as she lives quite far away but I work with her mom.  When Melanie went into labor so terrifyingly early, her mom connected the two of us for support, knowing what my family's experiences had been.  Get ready with your Kleenex - you'll come to love this feisty little boy!

Our NICU story, 26 weeks 4 days

I found out I was pregnant in September of 2010, and like everyone else thought of the next 9 months of pregnancy, and giving birth to a healthy baby. Everything seemed very surreal, and exciting. I went to every appointment I was supposed to, the pregnancy seemed to be going textbook. I ate healthy, did everything I was supposed to do for a healthy baby. The last appointment I had was at 25 weeks and everything with the pregnancy was once again going great, made another appointment for 29 weeks.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Two Hockey Cakes

Well...its baby is 4.  That sweet little snuggler who is also my tough guy hockey lover is no longer a young preschooler...he moves to being a regular preschooler.  And what does a kid like this one want for his birthday?  Why, a hockey cake, of course!  But in this family we do birthdays big and I just couldn't settle for sending treats to school and calling it good.  Nope.  Instead, we invited grandparents and other extended family who live nearby to join us for the kids' weekly hockey lesson.  The kids put a little extra mustard into it knowing they had an audience too and worked really hard to show off all their best hockey moves to impress.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hockey on the Brain!

I've got hockey on the brain and its not just that the NHL has finally gotten its act together to get a season going!  First, my little hockey freak is turning 4 tomorrow and has once again requested nothing but a hockey cake.  Well, my friends, this momma has come through on that big time and I'll show you more tomorrow...
We also spent a fun-filled weekend at the hockey rink this past weekend.  First, my brother had his high school hockey game.  We always have a great time cheering them on.  Even though they didn't win it was a hard-fought close game right to the end.
Then, we attended a fundraiser hockey game at our home rink between the Detroit Red Wings Alumni and my high school alumni (this is also the same school my youngest brother plays for).  My brother's team's assistant coach was an honorary player with the Wings Alumni for this game.  The crowd was in a great mood, as were the players, so it was a fun night.  My kids were pumped and my little hockey dude chanted for both teams as loud as he could and entertained the crowd in his old-school hockey mask.

Monday, January 14, 2013

More Milestones!

Happy Monday!  Just going to say right now - please excuse all the exclamation marks but I am really excited.  :)  What a big weekend this has been!

I reached 300 followers on Twitter, 80 followers on Google+, 111 Pinterest followers and just two shy of 100 GFC followers!  This little blog also topped 100 feed subscribers and about 20 followers through BlogFrog, Linky Followers and Tumblr!

I am so excited because this little country girl entered this world of blogging wondering if anyone out there would be interested in my little world.  I had so much I wanted to share and learn and hoped there were a few of you would wanted to join me along the way.  I never imagined it would take off like it has or that I would meet so many sweet folks along the way.  I have loved to write and read ever since I was a small child and writing here for you and reading all of your wonderful stories has been a blessing in this past year.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Oldest Daughter

In my cleaning blitz last weekend I discovered a stash of photos from when my daughter was a toddler.  And I discovered a stash of her artwork and homework from Kindergarten and First Grade.  We shared a bunch of giggles about how much some of her facial expressions look just like her little brother and how funny some of the drawings and stories she wrote are - mostly because of their total transparency and innocent interpretations.  She laughed at some of the things she had kept because, at 9, all of the sudden she is reaching the age of being OK with letting some of the "little kid" things go.
Later, Daddy came home and we shared our favorite finds with him.  Daddy was a bit more emotional than we had been as he reflected on how much she has grown and matured and changed in a thousand ways.  And she has changed - there is no denying it.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Crispy Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe came from one of my favorite all-time cookie resources - the December 1999 issue of Good Housekeeping.  It is one of those that has a large majority of the magazine done in cookbook format and is packed full of reliable cookie recipes (and some great meals and holiday food gifts too!).  Several of its pages are well-loved with little bits of dried cookie dough stuck to them - its very easy to find the recipes I use the most.  As much as I love this magazine, there are several recipes I still haven't tried.  So this year I spotted this one and decided to give it a shot.  

As usual, I couldn't just make it exactly the way the recipe was written so I'm posting for you the original and my version so you can try what you like (or have on hand!).  These keep really well and travel really well too.  They don't break apart all over the place like some crispy cookies and they are crispy but not dry.  They also were quick to whip up for a late-night treat.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bunuelos - Mini Spanish Fritters

The kids and I first learned about bunuelos watching "Handy Manny" where they visited a lady in the community who was making these tasty treats.  I found this recipe in a magazine years ago and had ripped out the page but never tried to make them.  So I decided one morning after Christmas that this was just the sort of thing to try on a day relaxing at home with the family.  They turned out awesome - the hubster's comment was "These are sooo good they can't be good for you..."  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk - March of Dimes

If you haven't been here long, you may not have seen my post about the March of Dimes and my past involvement there but if you wonder why this is such a big deal to me - please go read.  Last year, we decided to take a break and a lot of family, friends and coworkers have asked if I would be leading a team again in the future so I decided to jump back on the train.
Premature birth isn't just a baby being born early.  It is an emotional rollercoaster for family and friends.  It can be financially devasting.  It can cost jobs and marriages.  There are surgeries and birth defects and complications that can last for years or lifetimes.

Monday, January 7, 2013

No Bake Eskimo Cookies

This recipe came from a work friend and is a great quick treat to whip together!

1 1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups Rice Krispy cereal
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
powdered sugar

Cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until mixed well.  Scoop into balls with a small ice cream scoop, melon baller or cookie scoop and roll in powdered sugar.  Refrigerate 20 minutes to set.  Keep refrigerated when not serving.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Best Ever Whipped Fruit Salad

My great-aunt has been bringing this fruit salad to family gatherings for years and it is a favorite for sure.  This is my variation of the recipe she uses.  It is as much a dessert as anything but its really good for breakfast, lunch and dinner too!  It makes a ton though and doesn't keep well for more than a day or two so only make this when you have a place to share it.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Does Your Child Have a Refuge?

When things got overwhelming and pressures and frustrations got to be too much, Mom always knew where she could find me.  I had two hideaways to cry, mumble to myself about the unfairness of the world, and work out the confusion in my head.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Tablecloth Tradition

I mentioned one of the traditions we began many years ago was one of signing the tablecloth.  
My mom has this one tablecloth and every year at either Thanksgiving or Christmas we haul it out and everyone there signs it in fabric paint.  
Before the signing begins, we enjoy strolling around and reading all the comments 
and seeing how things have changed.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Easy Bubble Skirt for 18 Inch Dolls

This cute little bubble skirt with its huge bow couldn't be easier to make for your favorite little girl's American Girl or other 18" doll.  I had this fabric that was sort of crimped.  I had long intended to make it into a curtain for a bathroom that never got re-painted and I decided it would work great to make a skirt that could be worn over the ballerina leotard my daughter already had for her doll.  

I started with a piece of fabric about 12 inches tall by about 13 inches wide.  Measure the waist of your doll to make sure your fabric is long enough and has a couple of inches extra for bunching and seams.  The waist is one of the measurements that will differ between brands of dolls.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Why I Love No nonsense for Work or Casual!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of No nonsense for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
Right before Christmas I was excited to find a surprise package from No nonsense at my door (who doesn't love surprise gifts!).  Being someone who does not like to clothes shop and desperately needed something new for all the holiday gatherings, I was definitely happy to see these arrive.

A Bright Dessert to Share

This was one of the treats I made for our New Year's at home and it was immediately declared awesome by all of the gang although its name is somewhat of a debate.  I thought I'd call it "Kermit in Hawaii" because of the green and all the tropical ingredients.  My husband said it looked more like Kermit snot...  My daughter said we should call it Hawaiian Turtle.  Call it what you want but it is just really tasty!  Here's what you need to do...