Thursday, December 29, 2011

How the Grinch Almost Stole Christmas...

We've had this Grinch stocking around for ages; from when Nick was little, and there wasn't yet a Jim Carey version. We pull him out and hang him up every year but he never gets anything from Santa.
I understand how he could get a little grinchy because of that, so starting next year the Grinch will always get a little goodie in his stocking. It'll just be my superstitious way of keeping away anymore accidents like we had on the Monday after Christmas.

Call me a bad mom, but I do in fact let Sophie and Laney remove the cushions from our leather couch, which is currently (but not for long) in front of the fireplace, and use it as a trampoline. However, being the safety girl I am, I have rules.
1. No shoes (often ignored)
2. No shoving (commonly referred to as the "She did it first!" defense)
3. No jumping when the Christmas stockings are hung

I actually had to un-hang all the stockings after putting up the tree and other decorations because of that last rule. I was never directly concerned about the stockings, but I worried that the stockings would get pulled on and the heavy, metal stocking hangers would fall on a tiny foot. So I took them down and forgot all about rule #3.
We've had several minor accidents on the couch trampoline. Luckily, we're talking about girls... otherwise at least two of the incidents could have brought their voices up a notch. Of course, the answers to my two favorite questions always remains the same:
Me: "See why I don't want you to jump on the couch?"
Girls: "Yes."
Me: "Now are you going to stop jumping on the couch?"
Girls: "No. Who's turn is it?!"
Me: *sigh*

On Christmas Eve we rehung the stockings and after the festivities the next morning there was only one stocking left hanging; lonely and miserable... The Grinch. (Insert ominous music here.)

Monday evening, around 5pm Sophie and I were in the craft room working on stuff, listening to Pandora's children's station on my iPhone and having a nice quiet evening.
She left her desk for a minute during a particularly upbeat song. I am tortured by the idea that I didn't ask where she was going, but I honestly thought she was just going to the bathroom or to get a snack. Even worse, since my scrapbooking/crafting end of the counter is opposite the doorway to the living room, if I had swiveled my chair I would be able to see the couch and the mantel with one stocking left hanging.
Within a minute she let out a scream and was running toward me holding out her hands. At first I thought she had gotten red ink from my stamp pads or markers all over herself, but as she got right up to the chair she said, "Momma, it hurts!", and that's when I realized there was a rush of blood streaming down her face. I cradled her in my lap for a second, trying to find out what happened and then realized that the blood was continuing to pulse out of the top of her head. I jumped up with her and started running from the room, asking what happened. She calmed enough to point out the heavy snowman stocking holder above the Grinch, which I could then see was dripping with blood and the couch was splattered with it. That's when I started to freak out.

I had to run with her back to the craft room to get my cell phone, since we haven't had a home phone in a good year I knew if I needed it I wouldn't want to have to leave Sophie to get it. Then as we ran the obstacle course of toys in the living room I stuffed the phone underneath her body, where my hands were trying to lace together to hold her tight.
I started to run to the kitchen sink, but realized I wouldn't be able to clean up her wound (or even find it in what had become a solid sheet of matted red hair) while still holding her in both arms.
I started to run out of the kitchen, but couldn't get through the mess of chairs and Moon Dough between the dining room and kitchen tables, so detoured back the way I came and around the other side of the dining room.
By now, the music blaring out of the iPhone was starting to get irritating and while running down the hallway I fumbled with the phone underneath Sophie to get Pandora turned off. (Praising again the long nail-friendly iPhone)
All the while I'm trying to stay calm, but with my mind racing with questions on what?, when?, where?, how? I haven't done any of my normal calming techniques yet. Then I hear Sophie saying, "Shhhh... Shhhhh... Shhhhh...". I'm still not exactly sure if she was doing it FOR me or TO me, but it worked. I started to slow my thoughts down a bit. I laid her on our bed, trying to keep her head on one of Bryan's old sweatshirts (that I inherited) instead of the freshly washed white comforter (not a total success).
I grabbed a wet hand towel and started patting her head in the general area where the blood was oozing out of. I tried to access the damage, but by now her long blonde hair was thick, deep red and matted and I was afraid to really scrub at the scalp. I didn't know if it was going to require stitches or if she had a serious head injury, or what. That's when I decided to call 911.

The operator asked the usual questions and then kept me on the line. I kept blotting the wound area and turning the towel to a clean area until finally the operator wanted me to see if I could see it. I pulled the towel off of Sophie's head and told the operator I couldn't see through the hair to find the spot and then the blood started bubbling out again, so she instructed to just press and hold the towel without moving it at all; "If it bleeds through, just put another towel on top of the first one."
Mind you, I'm also being asked about Sophie's behavior. "Is she responsive? Is she conscious?" I started to feel like I shouldn't have called them, as while I was answering yes to both of these questions Sophie is shouting quite clearly, "Don't call the ambalance! Don't call the ambalance!"

The paramedics and fire truck arrived a few minutes later, just as the blood had stopped for good, but they were unable to see through the hair either. I was tasked with trying to wipe her hair clean enough for one of them to pick through it. (Of course, if I'd known I was going to be the one scrubbing her head anyway, I probably would have just puked in the sink and gotten it over with instead of calling 911. But I was in a near-panic mode at the moment and I'm still trying to forgive myself for wasting the call, so I'll not second guess myself now.

The guys were really great with her though, and she wasn't afraid of them once they got here.

Years ago (when Nick was little) I donated some stuffed animals to a local fire department when they were doing a drive for teddy bears and stuffed animals that were just starting to be given out on calls with injured or traumatized children. There was no doubt in my mind that it was a wonderful idea, but this would be the first time I would get to see the benefit of it in action.
One paramedic gave Sophie a little stuffed tiger and then proceeded to help her name it and before long she was answering all their questions and was very calm.

In the end, we still couldn't see the wound, but the bleeding had stopped and all her vitals checked out and she was acting normally, so I didn't take her to the ER. We still couldn't get to the wound though, so after they left she and I got in the shower and cleaned up. I hope I don't ever have to try to wash her hair in that condition again. It was hard not to hurt her and still get the area cleaned out, but she's a tough little girl. We did a load of bloody laundry, steam mopped the dining room, kitchen, front room, hallway and bedroom floors, combed her hair out and crawled into bed to watch a movie.

Before the shower I snapped a few pics of her, or rather, tried to. The lighting in the bathroom is awful for photos, and I only had my cell at that point. The funny thing is that they don't look as bad as it all sounds; for two reasons. One, we'd already used two hand towels to wipe away as much blood as we could and two, Sophie is actually doing POSES for the camera! Seriously? Could she not just try to portray the horror I was still feeling? LOL

The last photo is with my camera and after the shower. We can see now that it's clearly just a puncture wound, so I think I made the right choice not putting her through the ER.

Sophie and Bump the tiger:

P.S. She still wants to jump on the couch! *sigh*

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Cookies

Sophie and I made my Gingerbread Boys and girls, trees, bells and bows for Santa tonight. Of course I was too tired to make fresh white frosting, so Santa's getting Delaney Pink and Sophie Blue; the colors of frosting the girls chose the last time we made cupcakes. I just thawed it out and used it on the gingerbread. Trying to make the boys look as manly as possible in baby blue and white pearls. LOL

I'm usually very good about keeping track of where a recipe came from, but this is one that I don't think I ever had a clipping for, so maybe from an old cookbook of my mom's? I don't know, but it's the recipe I've been making for the last 20 years and I posted it to for a friend to try last year. Thanks to her review I have increased the spices a bit and even though I always use freshly ground nutmeg, tonight we ground our own cloves and allspice berries as well. The dough isn't overly sweet, and it's possible that I have strayed from the original recipe, especially in the sugar category, since I started making these when I was married to my first husband, who was an insulin-dependent diabetic. However, I really like to make these cookies huge, so the less sugar in the cookie means the more cookies I can eat! :)
I like to use the 9-inch gingerbread boy cookie cutter and I have an 8-inch Christmas tree, so this recipe makes about 6 boys, 4 trees and a bunch of other little shapes. I've never really done a proper count, since I'm always making these for different reasons or with kids that like to cut as many little ones out as they can. I just roll and cut until the dough is gone.

Last Tuesday we joined Michele and Delaney in their family tradition of making kolaches. They're a beautiful yeast-dough cookie; delicate, not too sweet and filled with apricot filling. I didn't get her recipe, but plan to. For now you'll have to drool over the photos and take my word for it: they were delicious! ;)

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Glass-like Photo Key Chains

Do I always wait til the last minute to make handmade gifts? Nooooo..... it's just that I'm not an idea girl, but give me an idea and I'll make it happen. Like creating recipes, sometimes the ideas take more than one... or two... attempts before the result at least resembles what I have visualized.
This year I was stumbling on gifts for the men in the family. I had an idea, inspired by some key chains I found on Pinterest. Well, I tried the original idea but wasn't happy with the outcome, only because I didn't have some of the proper hardware on hand and also because I was trying to make them as manly as possible, but the craft was really screaming to be girly.
Next I tried an idea from one of the comments on that project. It worked and I was going to go with it. Then I Mod Podged over the carefully stamped, punched and positioned (with tweezers!!) the 1/4-inch letters for 3 kids' names and the word "family". The Mod Podge smeared the craft ink on all the letters. I was incredibly frustrated, but after two attempts I wasn't about to give up now. I put a bandanna on my day-old hairdo, re-braided my daughter's hair (she totally looked better than I did!) and we ran out to the Craft Warehouse for some new inspiration and supplies. I was still going to go with the plastic hang-tag type key chains, I just needed to purchase more of them. It was funny though, how all the time I was working on this project I kept thinking to myself that I should get out the epoxy resin and cover the key chains with it instead of just Mod Podge. Of course, I didn't... for some reason I can't explain, but then again, if I had then I wouldn't have found myself at the Craft Warehouse staring at bottle caps filled with resins.

A display in the jewelry area caught my eye. I love the smooth, glassy look of resin and have used it many times, so when I saw the insides of the bottle caps decorated with stickers, gemstones and beads, then filled in with the clear, glassy resin, I fell in love and knew I had to adapt this technique for my purposes.

I found some pendant casings (I don't know what else to call them) and matched up appropriate sizes for the photographs I wanted to incorporate into the key chains. I bought some key chain clip doohickeys (yes, don't know what to call them either - I'm a total nube when it comes to making a key chain) and we headed home! Oh...well, we did flit around the store a little longer, restocking the paint that Sophie & Delaney have been using up like crazy (mostly painting my kitchen table and their clothing with it, but whatever) and picking up a few other cool craft stuff.

So, instead of using the epoxy resin compound I've used in the past, I bought a $6 bottle of stuff called Glossy Accents.

Glossy Accents by Inkssentials on

Basically the same exact effect without the mess of cups and tongue depressors, stirring frantically to mix the two kinds of goop and then having to wipe drips off the edge of the piece for hours. With the Glossy Accents you just squeeze it out. As Sophie would say, "Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!"

We ran home, printed new photos on glossy paper, cut them to size, Mod Podged the fronts and backs (drying between each side) and then placed them into the key fobs. Then squeezed the Glossy Accents to fill up the rest of the fob on top of the photos. They were dry within about 5 hours, but I still left them overnight, just in case. I'd already learned my lesson when I didn't wait long enough between the Mod Podge and accidentally glued my brother-in-law's face to the scratch paper. I wondered for half a second if he would notice his right ear was missing... then reprinted the photo and started over. lol We made two identical ovals and one round one for all three of the wonderful brothers I have inherited.

I'm so excited about the possibilities now for girly ones that Sophie & I are off to buy more supplies at what Bryan has taken to calling the Crap Warehouse. But even he gets excited when he sees the stuff that I make. I think he secretly likes the place, but I understand that browsing stickers, stamps, beads, fabric and artificial flowers when you don't have a mind that can visualize the end result, might get pretty boring after awhile. I don't mind his nickname, I call it that myself quite often, cause I can't just go there for one thing. I DO come home with a bunch of crap that I don't know for sure what it's going to become. He indulges me by helping me try to organize my crap... I mean, craft room.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sophie's Scooby Snax

I don't usually have pet gifts on my To Do list for Christmas, but this year we have only one dog left in the family and one dog that I WISH was my family. Being highly allergic to animals makes bonding with any a bit difficult. Cats generally love me and I've had several that will actually crawl into my purse for a quick nap. Yeah, now that my sister has gotten me addicted to Vera Bradley purses, made entirely of fabric, bringing home one that has had a cat sleeping in it means I need to wash it or pack it away. :/
Anyway, dogs really aren't my thing and if I could live with an animal I would choose a cat. But, life likes to prove us wrong once in a while and in this case the proof is Ella; a loving, gentle Boxer belonging to Sophie's BFF, Delaney.

So, this year Sophie and I got the idea to make treats for our two favorite fur-babies. I found this recipe for Doggies Favorite Peanut Butter Treats, posted to by scotty's mom. The recipe was super easy, we had everything on hand, and one of the 13 glowing reviews was left by a chef that has very similar taste in recipes to myself. I trust her judgment and looked no further.

We mixed up the dough in the Kitchenaid mixer and started rolling. I have a cookie cutter in the shape of a bone that I had actually bought a few years ago for Halloween treats, and it was going to be perfect for this gift.

We bought a couple empty metal tins to hold the treats. I did some creative lettering and water-coloring for each of their names to personalize the tins.
I don't know yet how Trigger and Ella will like these, but we're excited to find out! :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Santa's Beard Advent Calendar

Mom was in town for the last 12 days, and even though it was for Uncle Bob's funeral service we still found time to become addicted to Pinterest. I think that took all of 12 minutes! LOL
We are "pinning" things to our boards like crazy, all the while mumbling about how we're never going to actually get any of these cute crafts or recipes done. But I'm proud to say that I just accomplished my first Pinteresting craft idea!

I had been looking at and pinning homemade advent calendars. I really don't like the idea of the chocolate-filled calendars.... okay, maybe I do. But clearly that's the problem. If my sister & I were able to eat through Christmas on December 1st, then I'm pretty sure my 5 year old could (WILL)do it now too. So I wanted something different. I saw lots of beautiful calendars, with goody bags, ornaments, etc., but I was grumbling about the cost of 25 new ornaments, and the time to shop for and fill 25 goody bags.
THEN.... I saw a pin for an advent calendar that was something both my daughter and her BFF could make, with just stuff already in my scrapbook room!
The Santa's Beard Advent Calendar was posted on the Inviting Printables Blog.
I printed out the cute page of Santa's face with numbers of the days, where his beard will be and a poem at the bottom.

I guess my nickname really fits me, cause I can't seem to stop tinkering with stuff. In this case I could see an opportunity for the girls to cut out all the pieces of Santa and glue them on a piece of card stock themselves. Then I stamped the numbers and printed the poem, which I did in Lettering Delights Oz font and changed the wording slightly. Bryan, who is sometimes hit with a totally genius idea, suggested I mat the poem so that it looks like it's a belt buckle. So, that's exactly what I did!

The girls will start tomorrow, gluing on one cotton ball every day of December, covering up the day's number. They are so excited about it and I loved making it with them. It was literally a 20 minute project with just a few basic scrapbook tools and some card stock. :)


Let the countdown begin!!

UPDATED December 30th 2011:
As the days of December were ticking by I realized that the poem and the numbers stamped on the calendar aren't really in sync. The last day stamped should be the 24th, as that's the night Santa actually makes his delivery. OR, the poem can be altered slightly to avoid saying that on the last day of the calendar (the 25th) Santa comes. If we repeat this craft next year, I think I'd like to leave the poem intact and only stamp numbers thru the 24th.
As for this year, this was the best advent calendar we've ever done. Sure, Sophie was all over the chocolate one she got too (except... unlike her Mama or her big brother, she was good about only eating one a day), but every morning her first thoughts were to glue on a cotton ball.
I have a set of Christmas coffee mugs that I display around the house, but we never actually use. Sophie chose the Mrs. Claus mug to hold the cotton balls and a glue stick all together, on the counter next to the refrigerator, where Santa was hanging. She really enjoyed this method of counting down and I compared her enthusiasm for and reactions to both this and the chocolate calendar. I actually think this was more enjoyable because she felt she was actively bringing Santa closer by building his beard, whereas the candy or treat-filled calendars just turned into daily, "What did I get?!" moments, as she thrusts the molded candy into our faces to figure out which Mickey Mouse character it's supposed to look like.

This was great fun and I hope to find or invent something similar next year! :)
Here's a photo of Sophie's finished calendar. (The calendar shown above is slightly different than the one below, as the one above is the one I helped her friend cut out, while Sophie wanted to do all her own cutting on hers.)

Friday, September 30, 2011

48 Hours with the Magic Bullet.... PART 3

I know it's taken me a long time to get the final installment for the Magic Bullet posted. I honestly thought I HAD done it. This morning I realized Part 3 was still in the (rather long) list of unfinished Blogger posts! LOL So... drum roll please... Here it is!

The next morning DD woke up and immediately asked where her smoothie was. :lol:
I whipped up the Magic Bullet Strawberry Banana Smoothie (Dairy-Free). This thing took about 2 minutes, start to finish.

Then, I waited til a little later in the day to make Momma's Smoothie. ;)
Magic Bullet Easy Frozen Daiquiri

Next, we tested the Magic Bullet Cheesecake. I'm not even joking when I say that my 5 year old DD actually made this recipe herself. After helping me with several other recipes, she understood the pulse and the lock-on techniques and was able to measure, add and mix the ingredients all by herself.

I've decided that the Magic Bullet recipes with something like, "Seven-Second..." in their title refers to not how long it takes to make it, but how long it's going to last once you serve it. :lol:
That was definitely the case with the Magic Bullet Seven-Second Salsa. I used a lot more tomatoes when making this recipe than it called for, but it was still super easy and very delicious. The photo was taken too soon after making it, as you can see it's a little bit foamy. That settled down, and the 3 teaspoons I was able to save for later were a rich, beautiful red and the longer the salsa was refrigerated, the better it got.

I know when I started this project that I thought this was a gadget geared toward singles and couples, but the more I use it the more I realize how handy it is even for families. I've just always been a "cook for an army" type gal, but we're really bad at eating leftovers. The Magic Bullet is teaching me to make small batches of things that we can enjoy immediately, without worrying about leftovers going to waste.

And something else I discovered... As annoyed as DH was with my constant raving, he never once complained about not having to wash the 4 loads of dishes all this food would have required him to do on any other day. Yep. VERY little cleanup with this gadgie.

Now that I'm at the end of my 48 hours, there are still recipes I'd like to try. Obviously, I'm going to have to purchase a Magic Bullet for myself. Particularly because I didn't get a chance to test out the flat blade, which I wanted to use for grinding fresh coffee beans, but thanks to the invention and our subsequent addiction to the Keurig coffee maker, we rarely get out the old coffee pot anymore. And then there's the juicer attachment, which I wanted to try just to see a juicer in action, but would be enlisting the help of a friend with a more health-conscious palette to test out the finished product for me. I'm not quite ready to start drinking my spinach and beets. :lol:

And now, at the risk of sounding like a commercial, I think every home needs one of these! :D

Thursday, September 29, 2011

48 Hours with the Magic Bullet.... PART 2

Luckily, my family is accustomed to odd meal combinations, thanks to my participation in contests and tag games in the other forums, so no one even batted an eye when I ate my spaghetti and then started right in on the Magic Bullet Six-Second Chicken Salad. LOL

For this one I didn't have any leftover cooked chicken, so I threw a few tenders on the George Foreman Grill for 5 minutes and then cut them into a few smaller chunks. I quartered the apple and then roughly chopped that. I left the pecan halves whole.

The pulse technique was used again here, but I did find that I needed to do a lot more tapping on the counter top than I did with the spaghetti sauce. Next time I think I'll chop the apples a little more and give the pecans a quick chop.

So, more than six seconds, but still, very easy to make. It made enough for 3 sandwiches on homemade gluten free bread (slightly smaller than average loaf pans), and everyone liked the flavor.

Because I always use tart apples, I made this recipe a second time (to use up the leftover chicken) and added some pomegranate flavored dried cranberries. I made a double batch, using the large cup instead of the small one. I believe the manual warns against putting sticky ingredients in the machine, but of course I ignored that warning. :roll: In the future I will simply stir in the cranberries after the recipe is made, because they did stick to the blades, but the end result was still very good. :yummy:

One of the best things about this recipe was that I could store the leftovers right in the cup I made it in. I simply removed the blade and put on one of the Stay-Fresh Resealable Lids, then popped it in the fridge. It only lasted a couple hours before my 18 year old DS scarfed it down, but what I couldn't stop thinking about was the idea of grabbing a cup of fresh chicken salad before running off to work, storing it in the fridge, and at lunchtime putting it between a couple slices of bread or serving it on a bed of lettuce. A super easy meal that wasn't bought out of a vending machine or didn't include the words "power bar" on the package!

48 Hours with the Magic Bullet.... PART 1

We've had several threads on regarding the Magic Bullet or Rocket Chef gadgets. They seem very popular, but aside from emailing the Magic Bullet manual that Chef marisk was kind enough to share with us to everyone needing one, I was really of no use when it came to answering questions about the machines.

Recently though, the subject came up on one of Sophie's preschool play dates. It turns out that they have a Magic Bullet and were more than willing to loan it to me so I could play with it and create a photo demo for the Kitchen Gadgets & Appliances forum.

The full set includes: the power base, a tall cup, a short cup, 4 party mugs, a cross blade, a flat blade, a blender and lid, a juice extractor kit (extractor and plunger or tamper), two shaker/steamer tops, two stay-fresh lids for storing leftovers and 4 colored comfort lip rings to use with the party mugs.
Cleanup is easy, as all pieces are dishwasher safe except the power base, which can simply be wiped down.

Initially, I considered this gadget to be just another As Seen On Tv gadgie that would end up in a box in my Appliance Graveyard (aka: the garage), but after giving it a test run with the first two recipes, I have a more informed opinion.

I can see how the Magic Bullet would be the perfect gadget for single people, couples, or college students.

Although it sounds strange, I think it would also be handy while traveling and staying in hotels. It may not be convenient to travel with all of the pieces, but you could easily get by with just a few of them. I suggest that idea because I have a friend that will sometimes travel for work, but because she has to eat gluten free, and finding suitable restaurants is difficult, she ends up surviving on yogurt, energy bars and a little fruit. The hotels don't always have freezers in the rooms, but refrigerators are usually standard and many have microwaves. I'm confident that she could buy a few refrigerated items and using the Magic Bullet, make healthy meals during her trip.

One thing I really like about the MB is that you can use small foods, like cherry tomatoes, whole garlic cloves, and boiling onions, instead of having to chop and dice everything. The more I played with this gadget, the more I fell in love with it and every time I get excited about how easy making and cleaning up is after each recipe, Bryan says, "Just buy one and stop trying to convince me how great it is!"
What started out here as a simple demo has turned into an over-sized review of the Magic Bullet, please forgive the length.
Basically, this is the story of my 48 Hours with the Magic Bullet.

The first recipe we tried was the Im"meat"iate Spaghetti Sauce (Marinara) recipe. I've posted it as Magic Bullet Spaghetti Sauce (Marinara) because doesn't recognize the air bunnies in the original title.

It was strange working with raw meat in the sauce and then microwaving it to cook the mixture, but aside from a little finer ground texture, the sauce had great flavor and we enjoyed it.

Prepping ingredients is really simple when you "think small". Using cherry (or grape sized) tomatoes, just having to peel a pearl onion and couple cloves of garlic was very quick and painless compared to chopping and peeling full sized tomatoes, onions and mincing garlic.

I used grape tomatoes and ground turkey for this recipe.

Place the cross blade on the cup and then set it on the power base. Press down gently to start the motor, then release pressure immediately. Let the ingredients settle or tap the cup on the counter top to redistribute them and pulse again. Repeat until you've reached the desired consistency.

To cook the mixture, remove the cross blade and twist on one of the vented shaker/steamer lids.

Place cup in the microwave and cook on high for 7-10 minutes. I had my pasta water coming to a boil while gathering ingredients and at this time I was able to put the pasta in the water. Since I was cooking gluten free pasta, which only takes 9 minutes to cook, both the sauce and noodles were done at the same time.

Ignoring the time I took to set up and photograph along the way, the whole recipe took about 15 minutes! :shock:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How the worst day ever can end with a smile...

At the beginning of September I bragged about my contest winning recipe... for which I have yet to decide what to spend the winnings on, and I really didn't think it could get any better than that. Especially with the way today started off.

First, Bryan and I have had to completely flip-flop our schedules. I used to go into the bakery early in the morning because he worked nights, but when he got promoted to Team Leader this month, it came with a 5:45am shift. We were able to work around it by my going to work the night before to do my baking and then coming home at 4am, just as he's getting up. We love having him home in the afternoon and evenings again, so the weirdness of my "waiting around all day" to go to work is worth it.

Anyway, the point of this story is that this baking-the-day-before-I-work thing, his working early morning and our switching driving duties to and from school, has really messed with our heads. I clock in on Monday and clock out on Tuesday. I have no idea what day it is anymore. So, this morning I get home, sleep four hours, get up and get Sophie ready for school. She has a Western Days celebration this week and Wednesday the kids can wear their western attire. Last year I was embarrassed for Sophie when she was one of the only kids in 3 classes that didn't have anything remotely western on. This year I was determined to find an outfit that we could convince her to wear for the party. After braiding her hair and getting the outfit on, I thought she looked like a young Laura Ingalls (I set the DVR to record some Little House on the Prairie), and then I did some minor repairs and upgrades to the over-priced, fraying straw, Fred Meyer bargain bin cowboy hat, and then we were ready. We drove to her best friend's house, who rides with us to and from school on Wednesdays.

(Just for fun, this is both girls photographed the next day. Ye-Haw!)

At this point, I was just relieved that I didn't forget to pick up Laney, since I'm used to doing the picking up from school, and taking her home. But when we got there, Laney was still in her jammies and her great-grandma was saying, "Is today a school day?! I thought it was only Tuesday!"

Ugh. I mentally went over the last 24 hours and realized GG was right. It wasn't Wednesday, it was Tuesday! I felt like a world class idiot, even as we shared a laugh over it, and then Sophie and I drove away... just as the dummy light on my gas tank started voicing it's opinion.

On the way home I sent a text to Bryan, telling him not to pick up the girls from school today. He writes back that he didn't think he was supposed to, but is now worried that today was the day we scheduled a play date as well. He's totally confused and I need to explain that I'm just an idiot and if I had led him to believe that today was Wednesday, he should know I was wrong. Of course, I don't get a chance to explain anything, because that's when my cell phone's SD card corrupted and my keyboard quit working. Ugh! It's only noon.

If you've read me before, you know I can babble on and on, but eventually I'll get to the real point. This time it's that despite how the day started, I actually got really good news when we got home. I started to pick my way through the clutter accumulating on the dining table and one of the larger items was one of those books that randomly show up in the mail. If you don't return it immediately, unopened, then you've just joined the Book of the Month Club, or at the very least committed to spending $40 on a book you never ordered. I was considering how I might avoid a trip to the post office if I was able to cram it into the mailbox, even though the mail lady brought it to the door, as she does all over-sized packages, when I suddenly realized I was tearing open the envelope glued to the front of the box.
Seriously!? Can I get any blonder today?! *sigh*

Now I'm thinking to myself, "Well, it IS a Taste of Home book and I've been subscribing to their magazine since 1994, and I have all the other Special Edition Hardbound, Best of..." books.... so, maybe I should buy this one too." Then as I argue to myself that I don't even know where I'd store another hard cover book, I read the first line of the enclosed letter.
"We are delighted to inform you that you are receiving a copy of the Holiday & Celebrations Cookbook 2011, which includes your recipe on page 89. This complimentary copy is yours to keep free of charge. It's our way of saying "Thank you!" for contributing to this one-of-a-kind cookbook."

Now, I suppose to get a recipe into one of these books, one needs to submit a recipe, but I created this one for a contest in 2008 and have zero recollection of ever submitting it for anything else. I've written about this recipe for the newspaper, back in 2008, so if you've seen it before; forgive me for reprinting it, and thank you for remembering it!
Lastly, I want to extend some credit for the success of this recipe to my son, Nick. The day I created this recipe I was creating about 6 different recipes, all with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and artichokes in them, and my guinea pig testers were a dozen guy friends that set up their televisions and X-Boxes in our garage for a 10 hour Halo2 marathon. The guys are always honest when giving me their opinions on food I create or recipes I'm trying to review for other chefs. On this day, it was my 15 year old son that took one bite and told me what my recipe was missing. I made it again with his suggestion, and it was a hit!

Artichoke, Spinach & Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 (6 1/2 ounce) jar artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed & drained
3/4 cup grated Asiago cheese
1 cup sun-dried tomato, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
In large bowl combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, shallots and garlic.
Stir in artichoke hearts, spinach, tomatoes and cheese.
Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese that sticks out the top of the mixture begins to brown slightly.
Serve with fresh vegetables or baked tortilla chips for dipping.
Serves: 8-10
10 minutes prep/25 minutes cook time
Creative Commons License
TinksTreats by Lorilyn Tenney is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License