Friday, December 25, 2009

Snowed In for Christmas!!!

On our way up to Seth's parents' house Tuesday night there was freezing rain/wintry mix/sleet or whatever you want to call it.Wednesday morning there was 1/4 - 1/2 inch of ice coating everything outside.Thursday afternoon the snow started.

We went to church at 1pm, then went to visit Seth's grandmother at the care center and made a stop at Walmart. By the time we were on our way back to the house (about 4:30pm) there were several inches on the ground and the wind was kicking up some serious drifts. At the top of every hill we drove over the snow was blowing so badly that visibility dropped to zero. We got back to the house to find that the power had gone out. It came back on at about 5pm and my mother-in-law was able to finish the turkey that had been in the oven since before we left for church. We had a hot dinner and opened some gifts.

The "kids" (my husband, his two brothers, my future sister-in-law, and myself) hung out in the basement playing Kelli's wii and a pretty awesome board game called Encore. Just after we finished the game, the power went out again (about 1:00am). We figured that was a good sign we should all go to bed.

This morning we opened presents, enjoyed a Christmas cookie breakfast, and then a cheese-and-cracker-with-summer-sausage-left-over turkey-sandwich lunch. We all took naps and awoke around 3:30pm to find the POWER HAD COME BACK ON!!!

So now that I can get online, here are some lovely photos of the snow here in western Iowa:

The ice and snow covered tree in the back yard:

The driveway:Check out the cows! And I thought I was cold!

a not-so-smart person who tried to drive their car up the big hill:
It's still snowing and we're going on 18" (not counting the drifts!)
The good news is that Seth and his dad drove in to town and Seth feels pretty confident that we will be able to make it back home tomorrow.

In the mean time, I'm definitely enjoying the whitest Christmas I've ever had!

to you and your families! I'm praying that you are enjoying a blessed and joyous celebration of our Savior's birth!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Some overdue photos of the snow

About two weeks ago Iowa got hit with a ton of snow. You may recall my post about the three snow days in a row that I had that week. In that post I included some photos of our driveway and cars under 10-20 inches of snow (depending on the drifts). I also promised to post some pictures from our drive around town that day. Well... two weeks later, here they are!

Our street:

The hills of Glenwood, Iowa:
Downtown Glenwood:

We're up at Seth's parents' place right now for Christmas and they're forecasting 12"-18" of snow by Saturday morning (on top of the 1/4" - 1/2" of ice that's already coating everything.)

It should be an interesting drive back to Glenwood on Saturday morning... at least it's only 90 miles!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Family's Christmas Cookies

One of my favorite parts of preparing for Christmas when I was growing up was helping Mom make the Christmas cookies. There were several different types that we always had: French lace roll-ups, Swedish heirlooms, white chocolate covered pretzels (I know, technically these aren't cookies), and... my favorite... Lebkuchen! Lebkuchen is a traditional German molasses cookie that looks kind of like gingerbread. They include pecans, walnuts, and dates along with a whole lot of yummy spices!

The first year I lived on my own, I got way too excited about recreating the wonderful Christmas coziness that I always enjoyed at home with my parents. I did have to make a few sacrifices. I got a fake tree instead of a live one, thinking the lesser fire risk would be a good idea since I was living alone. I did buy a few pine scented candles to try and make up for it though.

One thing I knew I couldn't scrimp on was lebkuchen. I went out and got a new mixing bowl that was big enough to handle the huge recipe as well as a heavy duty wooden spoon as I had heard my mother's stories about all of the spoons she had broken over the years trying to stir her lebkuchen dough.

I remember calling my mom from every aisle of the grocery store confirming that I was getting the right ingredients. "What kind of molasses do I need?" "Whole dates or chopped?" The calls continued when I got home and started mixing. Unfortunately I tried to add one cup of flour at a time... which worked great for the first four cups. By the time I got to the fifth or sixth cup I was calling my mother once again asking her how in the world I was supposed to finish adding all eight cups when my arm already felt like it was on fire. She laughed and told me that I should have only added the first two or three cups one at a time and wished me luck on the remainder of my stirring.
When Seth and I got married, my parents gave us a kitchen aid standing mixer and even at the end of June I was thinking about lebkuchen and how much easier it would be to use the dough hook to mix in those 8 cups of flour!

This year was my third year making lebkuchen with the mixer and it was every bit as wonderful as I remembered! I invited two middle school girls from our church to come over and help me since I didn't have much time and needed some extra hands. We had a lot of fun and the girls loved the cookies.
After a few hours of work (and having to put a few dozen back through the oven a second time) we ended up with about 8 dozen cookies. More than enough for the church bazaar, sending some home with the girls, taking some to work, bringing some home to my family for Christmas, and still having some left over for Seth and I to enjoy in 2010! Now if only I could find a use for that gigantic wooden spoon...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


When I was a kid I loved snow days. A snow day meant bundling up in my warmest winter gear and playing outside with my sisters in the fresh white snow. We would build snow men, make snow angels, create snow forts, and run around until our ears, noses, and cheeks were pink and our gloves and mittens soaked through. Then we'd come inside, strip off our wet clothes and change back into our warm pajamas, and sip mugs of hot chocolate while watching one of our many favorite Christmas movies. Good times.

As a teacher, I also love snow days... but for much different reasons. Now when I get a free day to spend at home, I look forward to doing dishes, laundry, and other household chores. I still look forward to the hot chocolate (but perhaps with a little something extra mixed in ;-)

Yesterday I enjoyed the snow day by getting some chores done around the house. Today I have gotten a little farther with our Christmas decorations. I got the ornaments on the tree and put up a few of our nativity sets. I haven't found the tree topper yet, though, and may need to go hunting for more Christmas boxes in the basement.

It's a beautiful day outside and Seth and I are going to drive around a bit and get some pictures of our snow-covered town. For now, here are some pictures from our yard. We got about 12-14 inches of snow yesterday and overnight, and now the wind is blowing at 25-35 mph and making some lovely drifts. This one was peeking out our front door. That's Seth standing at the bottom of our driveway... with half of it left to shovel.Looking back up the driveway at the trailblazer

More to come later :-)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

After five looooong months...

I finally got to see my grandma, sisters, brothers-in-law, and my niece!!!
While I was very excited to see all of them, I must admit I was probably most excited to spend some time with my niece. The last time I saw her was over the 4th of July and I'm sure you all know how much a little girl changes between 15 and 20 months of age. After hearing all sorts of wonderful stories from my sisters and parents about all the fun things she's been doing over the last 5 months, I was dying to see her for myself! I even had a dream the week before Thanksgiving that I yelled at my mother and younger sister, telling them that they were to leave Addie and I alone, that it was our day to spend together, and to stay away. Yeah. I'm officially the crazy possessive aunt. I'm not proud.

But I was overjoyed to see my darling girl! I got hugs and kisses, I got led around the house by one finger, and I got lots and lots of giggles!

My favorite moment with Miss Addie was when she was bent over Memere's (grandma's) toy basket handing me toys behind her back without turning around. Each time I took a toy from her hand she would burst into a fresh round of giggles. A few times she almost fell into the basket she was laughing so hard! My dad (Pepere) caught some of it on video... I will be doing my best to get my hands on that footage!

These pictures are the only ones I took all weekend. Most of the time I was too busy playing with Addie or talking with my mom and sisters to take pictures. This is me trying to take a picture of us... might have turned out better if I'd just asked one of the other 9 adults in the house to do it for me! Oh well!Addie sure does make the cutest faces! Only four more weeks til I get to see her again... oh yeah, and the rest of my family too ;-)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Charm Design Bags and Totes $50 gift card GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

I LOVE purses! Ask my husband. Ask him about my birthday in April of this year when he took me shopping at the mall and I begged and bargained like a 5 year old to get a beautiful candy colored Franco Sarto Purse that I couldn't live without. "I won't buy another purse for a year!" I promised him.

And while I have thus far managed to keep that promise (less than five more months to go!), winning a new purse does not break the terms of our agreement!

Therefore, I give you the Charm Design Bags and Totes $50 gift card GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!! from Kathleen at Grosgrain!

You MUST check it out - but don't sign up to win because that will only hurt my chances ;-)

p.s. Seth and I leave tonight to go see my family for Thanksgiving! After months and months of looking forward to this week it's finally here!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Family Favorite

One of my favorite meals that we enjoyed growing up was Beef in a Basket.
Not only does it have a catchy name, it falls solidly in the category of "comfort food".
You start by browning a pound of ground beef. When it is fully cooked, drain it and mix it with your favorite barbecue sauce (enough to generously coat the beef). I like to throw in a hand full of shredded cheese as well.
Open a can of refrigerated biscuit dough (the honey butter flavor are fantastic!) and use your fingers to flatten each one and stretch it out so that you can press it into a cupcake tin. Spoon the barbecue beef into the dough and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake according to the directions on the biscuit dough, or until the "baskets" are golden brown. They should pop right out of the tin if you're using a non-stick one, though if your muffin tin is not non-stick, you might want to spray the cups lightly with Pam before pressing in the dough. I have also found that if I don't worry about pressing the dough all the way into the bottom of the cups, just enough to make room for the meat, then they come out a lot easier when they're done.

This is a quick, easy, and super yummy dish that pleases the whole family! Enjoy!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The things girls do for good hair...

It wasn't pretty...

But when it was through...
I ended up with beautiful curls!!!
After spending 26 years with stick-straight hair, I am thrilled to finally have the curls I've always dreamed of. I'm sure there will come a day when I miss my straight locks and pull out my trusty flat iron, but for now I'm absolutely loving the curls!!!

While it takes a bit longer to wash and dry, I can go longer between washes and have infinitely more options for styling (as my straight hair wouldn't hold anything from a bobby pin to an ironed curl). I've gotten so many compliments and I love how many people have told me that they just thought I had naturally curly hair and always straightened it!!!

The only bad part about getting the perm was when my husband found out how much I spent on it :-o But when I reminded him that I hadn't had so much as a trim for over 18 months and then asked him to add up how much he'd spent on haircuts over the last year and a half, he did calm down quite a bit ;-)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A day in her shoes

Seth and I spent the day up in Denison, IA visiting his family and attending a joint bridal shower for his cousin, Jamie, and her brother's fiance, Kensey. After the shower we came back to my in-laws' house to hang out and relax a bit. Seth's sisters, Liz and Bekah, were also over for the day.

At some point I was called down to the basement to join Liz and Colene (my M-I-L) in their quest to dig through some of mom's old shoes to see if there were any cool "vintage" pairs that Liz might want. After looking through a few boxes, we headed upstairs to mom's bedroom closet where she said she had "a few more pairs"...

At this point I quickly began to realize that my beloved MIL does not throw anything away. Anything. Including just about every pair of shoes she's ever worn (and perhaps even a pair or two that she never did). We were delighted to find a few pairs that were the lucky combination of retro style and not falling apart. Unfortunately, not one pair fit me. :-( But I am happy for my Liz that she found a few super cute pairs that she could definitely get away with wearing out in public.

About halfway through our digging, I could no longer restrain myself and went running for my camera. There were just too many pairs of shoes that I could hardly believe and that I HAD to share with all of you.

I give you... My Mother-in-Law's Shoes.

This was one of the first pairs that Liz found. Still cute after all these years!
These were Mom's wedding shoes.
And these were her "going away" shoes that she wore when they left the reception.

I had some like these when I was about 7 years old.
Mom: "I wore these to the dance clubs in Kansas City."
Me: "What year was that, mom?"
Mom: "Oh, I don't know... probably 1973."
And she didn't have just one pair...
Pastel peep toes with mesh cut-outs. The perfect Easter shoe... in 1986.
Liz walked away with these beauties. And I'm totally jealous.
That's right. Teal lace. You aren't imagining things.

This may be the only time in my life I've ever wished I had bigger feet.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Taking my holiday temperature

I have always prided myself on my ability to wait until after Thanksgiving to turn on my Christmas mood. I would walk by the holiday aisles in Kohl's and Hobby Lobby shaking my head at how crazy it was for people to start decorating for Christmas before Halloween was even past. I had very strict rules about waiting until December 1st to listen to any Christmas music. I love holidays, but I have always taken them one at a time. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas. No blending. No mixing. One. at. a. time.

Then I moved to Iowa.

I have written about at least once already, I am working on adjusting to the weather up here, which is a bit of a challenge considering I had finally started to get used to the weather in St. Louis just in time to move away. Don't get me wrong, I love it here in Iowa! I love our new town, our church, my job - all of it. But I'm having a bit of trouble with the weather.

October temperatures in Iowa are too much like December temperatures in St. Louis and it's throwing off my internal Holiday thermostat! Halloween is still 4 days away and I am finding that I am getting a bit itchy for Christmas. What the heck. Seriously.

I was running errands in both Kohl's and Hobby Lobby this evening and I actually caught myself looking longingly at the Christmas aisles, and even - gasp - wandered down a few! And even worse, had to tear myself away from the stocking hanger display (which got me really excited because we actually have a mantle piece now from which to hang stockings!) while chanting to myself "It's not even Halloween yet. It's not even Halloween yet."

I have also noticed that when sitting at my desk at work and scrolling through the playlists on my ipod I've been lingering a little too long on the "Christmas Instrumental" mix. It is far too tempting. I'm even considering removing it temporarily until after Thanksgiving as I'm becoming fairly certain that I won't have the will power to last another month without taking the plunge.

I brought up this whole weather/holiday conundrum to Seth tonight. He said he likes that it gets cold earlier because then Christmas is in the middle of winter instead of the beginning. "You'll get used to it," he says.

Used to a winter that's long enough for Christmas to fall in the MIDDLE?!?!?!?!

I think my Christmas itch might be least of my worries after all...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Shabby Apple Dare to Design Limoncello Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!

It's time for another Grosgrain giveaway!!! You have to check out this beautiful yellow dress. I'm usually not a big fan of yellow, but this dress is so delightfully charming I can't let the chance to win it pass me by ;-)
Shabby Apple Dare to Design Limoncello Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A series of unfortunate events...

I am a preschool teacher.

1st quarter assessments + parent teacher conferences + getting sick = no blogging for a while

My apologies.

By next week conferences will be finished, assessments completed, and (hopefully) all traces of sickness will be gone.

AND I will be back to blogging!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Queen of Hearts and Alice in Wonderland Costume Set GIVEAWAY!!!!

One of my favorite blogs, Grosgrain, is having a new giveaway... but it's not just any giveaway. It's a Queen of Hearts and Alice in Wonderland Costume Set GIVEAWAY!!!!

You MUST check out the photos of these amazing costumes that Kathleen made! I, too, have been mesmerized by the still photos from Tim Burton's new Alice in Wonderland so I LOVED the fact that she used those photos for her inspiration.

I'm really crossing my fingers for this one ;-)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I must be crazy...

I actually left the house at 5:30 AM this morning to go to the Y before work.

I had a nice short workout - partly because I was paranoid about being late for work and partly because I was still sore from Monday evening's workout - then showered and got myself ready for the day. It was actually really nice because there were only a few other people there and by the time I was drying my hair and doing my make-up, I was the only one in the bathroom. There are several other advantages to this new routine:

1) Not having to wait for a treadmill
2) Showers that don't run out of hot water
3) I get ready faster when there aren't distractions (like my laptop or the TV)
4) Significantly more counter space :-)
5) The Y bathroom is about 10 degrees warmer than my house
6) I feel more alert and prepared to handle my work day

While I don't think I will make every trip to the gym an AM trip, it's nice to know that in my quest to achieve a consistant 3-day-a-week exercise routine if I need to make one of the days a morning workout day, it won't be the end of the world. And who knows... maybe I will eventually become one of those crazy people who goes to the gym every morning before work! Yeah... probably not ;-)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kitchen Adventures Continued...

I love quiche.

Partly because it's a one-dish-dinner and also because they're just plain tasty. AND you can make a quiche a week and they can each be totally different from each other because you can put just about anything in a quiche as long as you buddy it up with complementary ingredients. The only downside is that they sometimes take a long time to bake.

Last week I picked up some frozen pie crusts at the grocery store with the intent of making a quiche or two. Every other quiche I've made has had a cheese crust (made with a LOT of shredded cheese and butter c/o The Joy of Cooking) so I decided to branch out and actually use a pastry crust. I have also been on a bit of a southwest kick lately. I even stocked up on bbq chicken and baja style Lean Cuisine quesadillas for lunch at work. So of course I had to try my hand at making a southwest style quiche.

Before leaving work I did a quick bing search for "black bean quiche" with not much luck. So I spent the whole drive home brainstorming what I was going to fill my beautiful pre-made pie crust with...

I think it turned out pretty well considering I was in a bit of a time crunch since I had a meeting at church and wanted to make sure it finished cooking before I had to leave (I can't stand to leave the oven on for any length of time when I'm not at home - I'm far too paranoid). I will share my makeshift recipe with you in case you'd like to give it a try. It definitely needs some tweaking so feel free to make any changes you like. This is merely a record of how I did it this time. My suggestions for possible changes are in blue.

Southwest Quiche
1 frozen pie crust - deep dish
1 can (15oz) black beans (8-10 oz black beans)
1/2 can (8oz) canned sweet corn
1/2 small red pepper, diced
1/2 small green pepper, diced
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cup chunky salsa
3 large eggs (4 large eggs)
1/2 cup milk (1 - 1.5 cups milk)
1/2 cup grated colby jack cheese (1 - 1.5 cups shredded cheese - Mexican blend)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cover the bottom of the pie crust (you can either leave it in the aluminum pie tin it came in or place it in a glass pie plate) with the diced pepper and onion. Mix the corn, black beans, cheese (save some cheese to sprinkle on top), and salsa together in a bowl and add to the crust. Also in a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together and pour over the bean/corn/salsa/cheese mixture to fill the crust. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover a cookie sheet with foil, place the quiche in the middle, and put the whole thing in the oven for 40-50 minutes (until the middle is set and the top is as brown as you like it). Some of the egg mixture may overflow during cooking (hence the foil). Allow it to cool before serving.

Two other suggestions:
1. All of the quiche recipes in The Joy of Cooking say that you should brush the pie crust with egg yolk before putting in the ingredients. I did not do that this time because I had already started putting stuff in the crust before I opened TJoC.
2. I didn't have time to saute the onion and pepper before putting it in the crust, but I would highly recommend doing so as it will reduce the amount of extra moisture in the mix and will keep the crust from getting soggy. I did end up with a bit of a "watery bottom" when I sliced my quiche open due to my veggies that had not been precooked.

Mine was also a tad on the dark side of golden as it sat in the oven at 200 degrees for an extra hour while I went to my meeting. But it still tasted great!

If you happen to try this recipe and tweak it, please share your additions/deletions/modifications etc! And I'll be sure to let you know what I do with the other crust...

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Almost as exciting as the first snow of the year is the first FIRE of the year!
One of my favorite things about our rental house is that it has a fire place, and in celebration of the first snow, Seth and I decided it was time to use it!

We even took a shopping trip to Menards to get an ash bucket and a fireplace tool set (I'm sure it has a better name than "fireplace tool set" but at the moment that's all I can think to call it). Today it was about 30 degrees outside as well so we've had the fire going since we got home from church this morning and I LOVE IT!!!

I only hope we can keep up our wood supply enough to keep the fires going all winter. Plus - as long as we had the fire going, our furnace didn't kick on - so we're saving $$$ too!
Best of all, I love the way it makes the house smell. :-) Here's to life by firelight!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Welcome to Iowa

Seth and I woke up this morning to about an inch and a half of SNOW on the ground!

Just to clarify, it's October 10th, it's 31 degrees outside, and it's snowing.

Wow.It's so strange to see snow on the ground when the trees still have their autumn colored leaves on!