Thursday, June 21, 2012

Why I'm Dreading A Child's Party

Hello, all-Kerry here, back from a rather long and self-imposed hiatus.  Before I go into the meat of my post tonight, I think I should explain where we've been.  Towards the end of April, my health took a nosedive.  No energy, constant headaches, wanted to sleep all the time.  And my eyesight got...scary.  It was a bit blurry one day, and I chalked it up to sinus pressure.  It gradually got worse, and I finally made myself go to the doctor.  I was diagnosed with diabetes, and while it's a pain in the ass, it's something I can manage.  But it had to get worse before I could get better.  My vision got to the point that I couldn't read, or drive, or see faces clearly.  I had horrible reactions to my medication-nausea and vomiting (enough to make me wonder if I was pregnant!), severe reactions to eggs and dairy, and severe mood swings.  Through all this, I was trying to manage my diet, start a regular exercise routine, and watch 5 kids in addition to my own.  Long story short, I simply had to cut out any additional stresses or obligations, and one of those was the blog.  Besides, it took over a month before I could get to where I could even see to type out a post.  Bannon, whose life is in a perpetual state of chaos, and makes me look like a total amateur when it comes to managing kids/work/home, went along with me for the break.  But we are slowly working our way back!  If any of you are still hanging with us, we deeply appreciate it.

And now, the dreaded party.  My little dude was invited to a birthday party, taking place tomorrow afternoon at a local park.  All the kids in LD's preschool class were invited, and it sounds like a nice chance for Jeffrey to get to see some familiar faces.  There's going to be swings and slides, which are some of the dude's favorite things in the world.  And there's bound to be cake.  Who doesn't like cake?  I can't be BFFs with cake anymore, but I still have warm feelings for it.  All in all, what's not to love about this party?

It's a very selfish reason, but it's one that breaks my heart.  Gatherings like this are always a very sharp reminder that my son is different.  His voice is very rarely part of the chatter.  He simply stares silently at a child when asked if he wants to go play.  When he does try to join in the play, he can only do so much, because his language skills just aren't there to allow him to understand that the kids are running from imaginary dinosaurs, or playing cops and robbers, or whatever.  So he often ends up on his own, doing his thing, wanting Mom to come play because he knows Mom will understand what he wants or needs.

Those things hurt to see, but what really gets me is what I can't see.  What does he think when a child asks him to play?  Does he understand what they want?  Is he choosing to be alone?  Does he stay quiet because he knows he's not on their level?  Does it hurt his feelings when he's not part of the group?  While his communication skills are slowly but surely coming along, he's not at a point yet where he can tell his peers what he wants.  While I try to help him do it himself, sometimes I have to intervene and speak for him.  Unfortunately, mom involvement is the kiss of death on the playground, and kids usually steer clear when they realize a parent is watching.  It just makes me so sad.  Why did my little boy get dealt this hand?

I know I don't have much to complain about.  There are so many children out there in more difficult situations, and I always feel so petty when I try to verbalize things like this.  But I think every parent has the same wants for their children-they want their child to be healthy.  To be normal.  To belong.  And during the preschool years, it's so hard for kids to understand that not every child is like them.  My son doesn't look different, so why doesn't he talk to them?  Why doesn't he want to play with them?  It's difficult to explain why, but I try.  I tell them that it's taking him longer to learn to talk, and that it's okay.  That everyone learns things in their own time.  I explain that my little guy can't say it for himself yet, but that he likes it when kids try to play with him, or say hi to him.  I warn them that, if he gets mad or scared, he may scream, or maybe even hit, but that he's not doing it to be mean.  If the child in question hasn't already taken off, I'll suggest that maybe they can go on the slide together.

And I'll remind myself that, one day, my son will be able to suggest playing on the slide in his own words.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Week 14- Sandwiches

by Bannon

When I saw that the reddit challenge this week was sandwiches I smiled because sandwiches are something that I can most definitely handle.  I make them daily for the husband, myself and the kiddos.  The hardest part of this challenge would be coming up with a sandwich that isn't the run of the mill boring peanut butter & jelly that I serve daily for lunch.

For Easter today I had plenty of hard boiled eggs sitting around here and I remembered a recipe I had seen in the new Pioneer Woman cookbook made with english muffins, hard boiled eggs, cheese and bacon.  So I made it from memory and forgot to add the mayo and dijon mustard.  These were liked by everyone but I know they would have been loved if I hadn't forgotten those two ingredients.

From The Pioneer Woman


Make-Ahead Muffin Melts

 |   |   | 


  • 12 whole Hard-boiled Eggs, Peeled And Chopped
  • 2 cups Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 cup (Real) Mayonnaise
  • 12 slices Bacon, Fried And Crumbled
  • 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
  • 6 whole English Muffins Split

Preparation Instructions

Combine eggs with all other ingredients. Fold together gently. Cover and store in the fridge overnight.
Spread on English muffin halves, then broil for 3 to 5 minutes or until hot and bubbly. (Don't set them too close to the heating element.)
Serve immediately!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Week 13 - Russian food

This week our husbands went out of town together to Toronto on a guys trip to go see a soccer game.  They also got to eat poutine (yum!) and lots of other great foods, drink local Canadian beers that they can't get around here and enjoy a child free weekend.  While the boys were out having fun we ladies took the kids to the circus together and we found that Bannon's kids loved it and Kerry's son thought it was OK.

We also decided to work together to do our recipe for the reddit challenge this week.  The topic is Russian food, which neither of us have any knowledge of other than Russian dressing or vodka, so this was going to be a bit of an education for both of us.

After looking around on the internet a bit the recipe we finally settled on was this potato knedliky (or dumpling) recipe.  It was very simple to make and the kids enjoyed getting to help roll the dumplings.  Taste wise, bacon grease makes everything taste better of course!  I think they would be a bit bland without the bacon and onions.

  • 4-5 baker’s potatoes
  • 1-1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 4-5 pieces of bacon (or enough salo to render about 0.25 cups fat)
  • 1 large sweet onion (finely chopped)
  • Salt pepper to taste

Peel potatoes and then boil until soft. 

Drain the potatoes well and return to the pot. Mash them until uniform consistency. You may want to let the potatoes stand for a little while to cool down after this step if you plan on rolling the dumplings by hand. Otherwise, thoroughly mix in the 2 eggs, 1 cup of flour, salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Roll one dumpling for testing. Drop it into boiling water, it should drop to the bottom, and float to the top when it’s done. If it starts falling apart add another half cup of flour to the dough. Make the rest of the knedliky and drop them into the boiling water. Again, cook until they float to the top and remove using a strainer.

At this point, the knedliky are done and ready for serving whichever way you like. For the way my family served them. Fry some bacon in a skillet until crispy, let dry, and cut up into bacon bits. Drain and set aside some of the bacon fat.  Finely chop a sweet onion and fry in the bacon grease until caramelized, set aside.

Then using a spatula, fry the knedliky in the bacon grease (or butter  if you don’t want to use bacon) until lightly browned on all sides.

Serve with a side of the caramelized onions and the bacon bits.

Kerry and Bannon

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


by Bannon

So I am a part of a word of mouth marketing organization called BzzAgent (you can learn more about it here.)  They give out samples and coupons and then the person who got those samples tells their friends and family members about it and shares the coupons.  Most of the time BzzAgent works just like that.

This time BzzAgent hasn't given me anything physically to share with anyone.  This time it's something called Smarterer, which is a website that you go take tests about various topics to see what you know.  They have all sorts of tests about Facebook, Twitter, Google Search, PowerPoint and even lighter tests about 80's music, video games, etc.

I found it all to be just OK until I found the Costco test.  As some of you may know, I have a bit of a Costco addiction so it should be no surprise that my first really good score on the Smarterer website was for this test.  That helped sell me on the whole Smarterer concept.

Anyone can signup and use Smarterer and take the tests, just go right here.  You need a Facebook signon to login, but other than that it's very easy to get started with test taking.

52 Weeks - Cheese

by Bannon

This post is a few days late in coming and I'm sorry.  You know life goes sometimes.

Last week's food challenge was cheese and I made a simple yet very tasty recipe that the whole family loves.  I found it on Pinterest and it came from here.  I've altered it to my liking.


4 potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut the potatoes into tiny pieces.

In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan and garlic and set aside. Next, toss the potatoes and oil together in a mixing bowl then add the bowl of cheese and seasonings and stir to coat.

Arrange them on a cookie sheet in a single layer.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes then remove from oven and turn over all the potatoes. Bake for another few minutes until crispy and golden.

This is an excellent recipe that always has the kids begging for more.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

52 Weeks Challenge, Weeks 10 and 11 Combined!

Kerry here, cheating like a fiend and combining week 10 (breakfast) and week 11 (cheese) into one tasty meal.  It's ham, swiss, and spinach quiche, and it's gooooood.

But first, I have a few random thoughts.  I want to thank everyone for the response to my last post, "A Low Day".  I received support, and a wonderful lavender eye pillow to help me sleep, and it meant so much to me.  But I also heard from readers with similar situations, which made me feel less alone, and it gave me some much needed perspective and clarity.  So thank you, all of you.

Also, for my fellow Walking Dead fangirls, a couple of thoughts.  I'm just now getting to finish the season (I didn't fully think out my clever plan to save money by dropping cable), and how did I not notice that Shane has to ask/tell somebody "something" at least 5 times per episode?  Only he's all Southern, so it's "M'ASK YEW SUMPIN'".  If only he'd ask Lori and Rick why the hell they don't keep Carl on a leash.  Sigh.  Also, is it just me, or does Daryl get hotter the crazier he gets?  It's just me?  I was afraid of that.

Anyway, quiche.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  For your ingredients, you'll need:

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I used wheat flour on my first attempt, didn't turn out as nicely as I would have liked.  Still tasty, though.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup half and half
3 eggs
2-4 slices swiss cheese (depending on how cheesy you want things.)
1 refrigerated pie crust
1/2 cup roughly chopped or torn spinach leaves
1/2 cup chopped ham
1/2 shredded cheddar cheese

Whisk together the flour, salt, half and half, and eggs in a bowl.  Press your pie crust into a pie dish, then lay the swiss cheese slices evenly over the bottom.  Then spread the spinach over the cheese.  Pour the flour and egg mixture into the crust, then evenly top with the ham and cheddar cheese.  Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Allow the quiche to rest for a few minutes before slicing.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Low Day

Kerry here.  I'm not sure why I'm posting this here, other than that I need an outlet.  So, if you don't want to hear a bunch of confused meebling, you might just want to wait for the post after this.  :-)

I've been struggling with the concept that our Little Dude is a "special needs" child.  I was very baffled, and honestly kind of shocked, when I was told this during the enrollment meeting for his current school.  I understand it, logically-he has a clear need for speech therapy, as well as some physical therapy.  We were warned waaaaay back when he was a baby and diagnosed with hydrocephaly that he would need therapy.  So it shouldn't have been a surprise.  But, when I think of "special needs", I tend to think of children who have more obvious needs.  I look at my son, and I feel like calling him a special needs child somehow takes away from other children who are considered to be the same.  I don't know why I feel this way, and I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest to find out that this offends other parents of special needs children.  So, if you're one of those parents, please accept my apologies.  I look at my child, who seems mainstream on the outside, and it just feels wrong to me.

But today, my niece looked at me and asked why LD isn't doing the same thing I just asked her to do.  I tried to explain that he doesn't always understand or follow instructions, and that we sometimes have to actually physically lead him.  And I realized it, then-he does have special needs.  If he were to run out into the street, and I were to yell at him to stop, I have no idea if he would actually do it.  He's in a near-constant state of frustration because of the disconnect in communication.  He won't go up or down stairs by himself.  While he seems to enjoy preschool, and gets his therapy there, there's no notable improvement yet in their opinion.  Getting the report this past week with nothing but "minimal improvement" was so disheartening for me, even though I know he has only been there a few weeks.

I know I shouldn't feel this way, and that I should give it more time.  But I can't help myself, so I worry.  And then I toss and turn at night, so I'm tired.  I struggle to keep up with 5 kids that aren't mine, as well as the one that is.  I try to do housework, laundry, cooking-all these things that other parents totally kick ass at doing, but feels like such a struggle to me lately.  I don't feel like this every day, but I do today.  I think I need a vacation, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

But I do have some bright things on the horizon.  It's the weekend!  The first Crew game is tomorrow-not sure if I'll be there, but I'm happy the season is starting.  I'll get some time with just the three of us, and next Thursday and Friday will be just me and my Little Dude.  If the weather holds, I'd like to take him to the zoo.  I'll tell him about the animals, and maybe he'll be able to tell me a little something about them, too.  And I'll slow down, and be patient, and remember that this will all take time.  And as a parent, that's the best thing I can give to my child.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Pioneer Woman Signs Things!!

Kerry and Bannon here, live blogging Ree Drummond's book signing like the dorks we are. Ree, for those who may not know, is The Pioneer Woman, a successful blogger, author, and host of her own Food Network show. She is also, from what I can see, totally adorable.

She's telling some funny stories about herself, focusing on Sun-In mishaps, 80's fashion, and life on the ranch with her hubby, Marlboro Man. You should have heard the massive "WOOOOO" from the 99.2% female crowd. And now we're looking at adorable baby pics, and they make me want to cuddle with my Little Dude. Yeah, I'm one of those moms.

Speaking of moms, one poor lady had to leave because her baby was just inconsolable. Ree saw it and stopped her presentation to sign the woman's book and talk for a moment. Totally sweet.

She also stuck her microphone up her nose. I don't know. She also sang "Endless Love" to pictures of her basset hound. I'm guessing she fueled up at the Starbucks here?

Edit: We've been here for about 2 hours now, and we are nowhere near to being done. But her hubby, Marlboro Man, just showed up and sent the womenfolk into a tizzy.

Edit 2: I would like to state for the record that I, Kerry, am wearing my sister's jeans because all of mine are too big. Thought you all should know. :-)

Edit 3: After an unexpected meeting with the Marlboro Man (unexpected sex appeal included), and stuffing ourselves silly at Bravo after being told by employees to go eat because we had a 2 hour wait, we are finally in line!

Edit 4: We met her! Very friendly, and wanted Jeni's ice cream-a woman after my own heart! And we both recommend her cookbooks. They are at least worth a read-funny, yummy, and probably the best step by step instructions out there.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

52 Weeks - Breakfast

by Bannon

This week's entry for the 52 week food challenge was an easy one.  Breakfast is something that most people have daily and sometimes in our house even twice a day.  It just so happens that we had breakfast for dinner tonight before I checked to find out what the weekly challenge was.  The downside is that I have no pictures so I'm sorry.

I made an egg mess dinner tonight.  I cut up some red, orange and yellow peppers and some onion and cooked them in a little oil.  Then I added in some leftover Irish bangers and let all that cook for a bit.  I removed the food from the pan and then scrambled a bunch of eggs in the pan and when they were almost done I tossed back in the vegetables and bangers.  The finishing touch was a bit of salt, pepper and garlic.

The reaction was mixed from the family.  The kids thought it was ok; they aren't fans of the onions.  The husband loved it. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Boogie Wipes Review and Giveaway!

We recently had a chance to test run Boogie Wipes for our blog!  For those of you who haven't heard of them, Boogie Wipes are soft, moist wipes made with saline.  There's no alcohol or parabens in their wipes.  They also make an adult version called Saline Soothers.  The Boogie Wipes can come unscented, or in grape, fresh, or mentholated scents.  I (Kerry) have been very grateful for these wipes, since all of the preschoolers I watch/own have had colds lately.  Lots of gross noses!

I was, to be honest, impressed at how quickly these wipes break up caked on mucus.  Little Dude generally fights me on wiping his nose, but he cooperates a bit more for these, as opposed to a tissue.  They have also cleaned up dried on ketchup, BBQ sauce, ice cream, mac and cheese, paint, and dirt.  My son is messy.  :-)  I also tried them on myself, and I was pleased to see that they really are as gentle as they are advertised to be.

I've found these on sale at Kroger and Target, in the baby section.  There are 45 count packs (kind of like travel packs of baby wipes), as well as packs of individually wrapped wipes.  I love the single wipes for my purse!  Costco also sells a 90 count tub of the wipes (they should also be available at retailers like Target, Babies R Us, etc.), which I should probably break down and get on my next trip.  

You can check out Boogie Wipes at their website, their Facebook page, or their Twitter account.  

And, because we love ya so much, we've arranged for one winner to receive a prize of two packs of Boogie Wipes, in assorted scents!  In order to win, please answer for us the following question-what is your (or your child's) favorite way to comfort yourself when you have a cold?  Mine is lounging in bed with hot tea and a magazine.  We're also offering a bonus entry if you mention in your post that you have liked Boogie Wipes on Facebook or Twitter.  And yes, we'll check.  Entries will be accepted until Friday night at midnight EST, and will be announced Saturday.  The winner will need to provide us with their address so the prize pack can be shipped directly to them.

So, to recap, leave a comment here on the blog with your favorite way to feel better when you have a cold, and if you've liked Boogie Wipes on FB or Twitter.  You may find yourself to be our latest winner! Also, if you are new to the blog, please leave your first name and an email address that we can reach you at if you are the winner.  We've had people miss out on prizes because we couldn't contact them!

And as always, we were not compensated by Boogie Wipes to review their product.  We did receive free samples to test, and our opinions are our own.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Week 10 Food Challenge-Crumpets!

Hello!  Kerry here, with this week's cooking challenge.  The theme was pretty broad-a recipe inspired by a book or movie.

Do you know how hard this was for me??

I seriously couldn't make up my mind!  Did I want to make lembas (shortbread, lol) from The Lord of the Rings?  Corn fritters from the Little House books?  An Indian dish mentioned in Bend It Like Beckham?  Delmonico potatoes as mentioned in The Alienist?  I had too many options.

I considered a post of drinks from movies like The Big Lebowski or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  I very nearly made a potato dish of Julia Child's, because I loved Julie and Julia.  Then my darling nieces came along and asked me to make them a favorite treat-crumpets.  As I was waiting for the yeast to proof, I remembered that they were mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone!  Harry and Ron toasted them over the fire in the Gryffindor common room during Christmas break (Sorcerer's Stone replaces "crumpets" with "english muffins").


One strip (3 packets) of active dry yeast (or 2 T, 3/4 t. yeast)
3/4 c warm water
3 t sugar
1 c warm milk
3 eggs
3 c all-purpose flour
1 t salt
Butter, for frying

In a glass bowl, mix the yeast, water, and sugar together.  Let the yeast proof (get foamy) for 5-10 minutes.  Gradually whisk the milk, eggs, flour, and salt into the yeast mixture, until blended and smooth. Cover with a towel, allow to rise for approximately 30 minutes.  Check at 20 minutes, and add more time as needed.  Your bowl will be nearly full once the batter has fully risen.

Once it has risen, heat a skillet or griddle and melt enough butter to grease the surface.  Measure out the batter onto the griddle using a 1/4 c measuring cup.  Fry them like pancakes-allow bubbles to form on the surface, and let the surface start to "dry up" before flipping them.  Serve them with butter, jam, syrup, peanut butter, get the idea.  ;-)

Also, these freeze really well!  Flash freeze them on a tray or plate for 30 minutes, then store them in a freezer bag.  Simply pop them in the toaster when you want one!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Buying a Side of Beef

by Bannon

My husband came home from work a month ago and told me that one of his coworkers was looking for someone to share buying a cow with.  I have been thinking about doing something like this for quite a few years, but living in the city I had no idea how to go about doing it.  So when he mentioned that this coworker has bought a side of beef for a few years now and they love the quality of the meat they get I said yes without hesitation.

I will say that we did this on a whim without doing much research into the whole thing.  I knew it would be something that would be good for us and if it cost a bit more out of pocket at first then so be it.  That's what I did when I signed up for our summer CSA* as well, I found one I liked and just dove in head first and that turned out to be a great decision. 

He brought home this Angus Beef Chart so we can pick out what cuts of meats we would like.  We will get the beef on May 14th and there will be somewhere around 200 pounds of roasts, steaks and ground beef. The cost is going to be around $3-$4 a pound.  I'm not sure that will save us money in the long run but I know the quality will be so much better than what I can get in the store.

As we were finalizing some of the details of purchasing the side of beef I started to hear more about this "pink slime" that is creeping into our meat supply.  First it was in meat from fast food restaurants.  Then we hear the government has purchased millions of pounds of the pink slime for school lunches.  Finally today the media is reporting that 70% of the ground beef we buy has pink slime in it as well.  This makes me even more happy and willing to spend the money for the side of beef.

So my job right now is to continue to serve meals out of the freezer so we have space for all of this as well as figure out what cuts of meat to choose to get.  If any of you have experience with what I should choose leave a comment, I'm taking all suggestions.

* CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and what it means is that you pre-purchase shares, or a membership of a farm.  Specifically for us, we get weekly from May to September fruits and vegetables that we pick up at the farmers market.  We prepay this every fall for the upcoming year.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A New Winner!!

One of our previous winners for the sampler packs of Revolution Tea has not responded to claim their prize, and we have no way to contact them.  So we have chosen a new winner-Joe!  Email us at, or message me on Facebook.  Congratulations!  If you have tea to be mailed out, I hope to get it sent tomorrow.  Bear with me!  It's hard to leave the house when you babysit more kids than can fit in a Kia!

February's Slightly Late DIY!

Hello, Kerry here!  I'm still trying to make good on my promise to post one household DIY and one craft idea per month.  Maybe I'll be back on track by the end of the month?  I wouldn't recommend holding your breath.  This month, rather than one homemade household item, I'm going to post some different things most homes would have, and some unique uses for them.  I love these life hacks.  ;-)

Toothpaste (non-gel):  remove crayon marks from walls, remove garlic or onion odors from your hands,  buff a DVD, defog swim goggles.

Nail Polish:  secure a loose screw, stop costume jewelry from tarnishing, repair a small hole in a screen, stop a runner in your pantyhose/tights.

Dryer Sheets:  deodorize shoes, soak in a pot/pan with baked on food to help loosen it, remove soap scum and mineral deposits from the shower, tame flyaway hair.

Hand Lotion:  polish shoes, remove static cling from clothing, tame frizzy hair, use it as shaving cream.

Petroleum Jelly:  remove water marks from furniture, soothe dry and cracked paws on your kitty or puppy, treat the threads on your outdoor light bulbs to keep them from sticking, put around your nails before polishing them to help clean up mistakes.

Salt:  wash green leafy veggies by swirling them in a bowl of salt water, rub salt water on the inside of your windows to keep them frost free, clean a greasy pan easily, clean up a sticky iron.

Chalk:  clean up ring around the collar, stop tarnish on your silverware, hide a crack in the paint on your walls, keep ants out of your house.

Source material (and more ideas) here:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

52 Weeks - Coffee

by Bannon

Another drink I am not fond of: coffee.  First I complained this week about the tea and then I saw that the weekly challenge this week was coffee.  I find it bitter and too strong to drink unless it is drowned in an iced capp from Tim Horton's (and even those still have too much coffee in them.)

But first before the recipe let me tell you a story about coffee, and my husband's love of it.  Last fall my husband broke the glass carafe on our coffee maker.  Being busy he never got a replacement one ordered.  Eventually I realized he was spending more money sneaking up to Tim Horton's for a random cup than if he would just call the company that made the coffee pot and order the carafe.

This past weekend we were in Target and found a new coffee pot, a smaller, eight cup version that fits better on the counter on clearance for less than what the cost of the new carafe would have been on the old coffee pot.  Yay, right?  We get it home and dh is thrilled to finally get to make a cup of coffee at home again.  Then we find out that this brand new coffee maker's carafe has a leak in it where the parts were sealed together at the factory.

My poor husband just can't win when it come to his coffee.  We called the manufacturer and it sounds like it's a problem with all of them because it will be a three to six week wait for the replacement.  This isn't the end of the world though.  As long as he pours his cup over the sink he can still have his daily cup of coffee.  It's just a minor inconvenience until then.

On to the recipe. 

Everyone loved this when I made it tonight and it will be going into the dinner rotation.  I served it with Parmesan roasted potatoes from here.

Southwestern Steak and Peppers

  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt, or to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon(s) coarsely ground pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 pound(s) boneless top sirloin steak, trimmed of fat
  • 3 clove(s) garlic, peeled, 1 halved and 2 minced
  • 3 teaspoon(s) canola oil, or extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2  red bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1  medium white onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon(s) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup(s) brewed coffee, or prepared instant coffee
  • 1/4 cup(s) balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cup(s) watercress sprigs

  1. Mix cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Rub steak with the cut garlic. Rub the spice mix all over the steak.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Add the steak and cook to desired doneness, 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest.
  3. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the skillet. Add bell peppers and onion; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add minced garlic and brown sugar; cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Add coffee, vinegar and any accumulated meat juices; cook for 3 minutes to intensify flavor. Season with pepper.
  4. To serve, mound 1 cup watercress on each plate. Top with the sauteed peppers and onion. Slice the steak thinly across the grain and arrange on the vegetables. Pour the sauce from the pan over the steak. Serve immediately.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Why did we wake up at 6am on a Saturday?

Bannon and I are insane-we decided we just had to go to the Cheryl and Co's annual bake sale. It started at 7am, but to get a decent spot in line...yeah. 6am.

So we're clutching empty Tim Horton's cups and price lists for bulk boxes of cookies and tubs of dough. There's also mascots dressed like a brownie and a frosted cookie running around. It's all a bit surreal.

There are stacks of boxes all over, most of them are taller than me. The sale is in a former Big Lots building, and there is a sea of cookie crazed women (and a few men) winding their way through a maze of yellow caution tape. It kind of feels more like some evacuation scene from a dramatic movie about the collapse of civilization. Some woman just announced where the clearance gift baskets are, and I'm pretty sure there's a stampede heading her way.

Edit #1: I rolled up my rim on my coffee cup; won another coffee. Also, at front of line at last! Woot!

Edit #2: Great success! We have made our purchases (including an unholy amount of Buckeyes) and are now free. Total time in and out? 1.5 hours. Amount I spent? $25. And now, to take it all home and try to not eat it at once!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Revolution Tea Winners!!

We have our five winners!  Each winner will win 4 of Revolution Tea's Sampler Packs, for a total of 20 bags of tea in 5 different flavors.  To claim your prize, please email us at  We will need to hear from our winners by 12:01AM, EST, on Monday, March 5.

Our lucky winners were chosen by, and they are:

Entry #3, Marinda
Entry #8, Diane Luers
Entry #9, user ID #d386c51a-641a-11e1-80ed-000bcdcb2996
Entry #6, Heather
Entry #4, Christine

Congratulations!  When you email us, please include a valid shipping address.  

Keep an eye out for future giveaways and reviews, including author Eric Geary, Meyer's Clean Day, Caldrea, Boogie Wipes, and Koupon Karen's new book!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My boy...

My little dude seems so much bigger now that he's three.  Maybe it's because he's in preschool now.  Maybe it's because the words are coming faster and clearer.  It could be his sudden burst of imaginative play, or the fact that his shoes are already outgrown, or that he's a little more independent every day.  Maybe it's really just my awareness of how time is moving so fast, and that my best efforts to slow things down don't seem to be working.  But my boy had his birthday, and his first day of school, and I had to take pictures to make sure I can remember how small he used to be, once upon a time...

The birthday party!  My boy loves balloons, and pizza, and carrot sticks.  He also loves Murray Wiggle, as evidenced by his shirt.

Me, showing off Bannon's gift to Jeffrey.  I wondered briefly if this shirt (which says, "Arrrgh!  Hands off me booty") would come in my size, then thought better of it.

My sweet little man, ready for his first day of school.  It felt so strange and wrong to put him in a room full of strangers and expect him to just get on with it.  I thought, having taught preschool for many years, that I'd be okay with it, but I was finally on the other side, approaching it as a parent instead of a teacher.  We both cried (I at least managed to pull away from the school before I did), and then Bannon and I went to lunch, where I drowned my sorrows in fish and chips and iced tea.

Looking much happier on his way to his second day of school, wearing the headband he had made the day before in class.  He calls it his hat, is quite proud of it, and still wears it around almost a full week after he made it.  That's got to be some kind of record for a preschool craft!  

Tomorrow will mark his fifth day of school, and every day seems a bit easier-just some whimpering (but no tears) at drop off today, and he clearly loves riding the bus home.  He seems to have picked up some new songs and dances at school, which he loves to do at home.  He's starting to learn the names of his classmates.  He's so big.  And I'm so proud.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Our First Review and Giveaway!!

Welcome to our first blog giveaway!  Revolution Tea was so nice to give us some boxes of tea to try and some sample packs to give out to all of you, our faithful readers.

But first, before we get to how you can win some tea let me share with you some of my thoughts about the Revolution Tea that Kerry and I sampled on Friday night.  Here is my disclosure I have to make before I go any further.  I, Bannon, am not a tea drinker.  I don't care for hot tea at all and very rarely will drink iced tea unless it is a sweet tea.  Kerry is the huge tea drinker out of the two of us and when she told me that Revolution Tea was sending us teas to try I told her I would put on my game face and try all of them for the sake of the blog.

With that being said I did try all six varieties that they sent us.  The types of tea we got were:

Earl Grey Lavender

Sweet Ginger Peach 

White Pear

Tropical Green

Dragon Eye Oolong

Golden Chamomile

After trying all six I would drink again the Earl Grey Lavender and the Golden Chamomile.  Both tasted good with some sugar added.  I feel the Ginger Peach has some promise and Kerry tells me she drinks it as an iced tea instead of a hot tea.  I would like to try it that way as well.  As for the other three they were not my favorites at all, but my husband raved over the Dragon Eye Oolong and the Tropical Green.

Kerry here!  As Bannon said, I am the tea drinker out of the two of us, so I was probably way more excited that she was.  However, she was a total trooper and tried them all.  We made a bit of a party of the tasting-nothing says "tea party" like hot wings, am I right??

I have had some experience with Revolution Teas, primarily the Ginger Peach.  I do drink it iced, and I will go into withdrawal if I don't have it regularly.  It is also quite good hot!  Having tried the rest of the flavors, I can't say enough good things about the Earl Grey Lavender and Golden Chamomile.  I added a bit of sugar, no cream.  The Earl Grey would make a lovely evening drink, maybe something to relax with while reading a good book.  The Chamomile is something I would definitely want if I were sick-it's so soothing, and has some mint to it.  I also liked the pineapple notes of the Tropical Green, and while the White Pear is a bit more delicate of a flavor than I generally prefer, I think it would also make for a nice iced tea.  I'm afraid that I didn't care much for the Oolong, but that's a personal preference-Bannon's husband raved about how good it was plain, but also held it's own with sugar.

That being said, I think we all became converts to Revolution Tea!  I also really loved the teabags-not paper with a tag on string, but a fine mesh fabric bag.  You could also see into it, and could actually tell what the tea was made of.  It really seemed to be high quality, and the blends were well balanced.  There wasn't one overwhelming flavor in any of the blends.

So, how would you like to try some tea?  The rules are simple-between now and midnight on Thursday, March 2 (EST),  simply leave a post on our blog letting us know what your favorite relaxation drink is.  Tea?  Coffee?  Margaritas?  We want to know!  Winners will be chosen at random and will be announced on Friday, March 3.  Five winners will be selected to receive 4 sampler packs from Revolution Tea, giving you a total of twenty bags in five different flavors!  To post on our blog, go to and tell us your drink of choice.  Feel free to follow us as well, since we'll be giving away more goodies in the weeks to come!

Disclosure:  We are not being compensated for our opinions by Revolution Tea or any other agency.  Our opinions are purely our own.  We did receive products for review and giveaway free of charge by Revolution Tea.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

52 Weeks of Cooking, Week 8-Slow Cooker

Hello, everybody!  Kerry here, with this week's recipe.  Since Bannon was kind enough to cover last week's love-themed recipe, I'm handling the crock pot this week!

I tried out two recipes for this week-one from Once A Month Mom, for slow-cooker refried beans, and the other from, for carnitas.  They were so easy, took minimal prep work, and (when combined with Mexican rice) made for one hell of a dinner!

To make the beans, you'll need 1 lb. of black beans, rinsed and picked over; 1 1/4 c. chopped onion, 2 T garlic, 5 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. black pepper, and 9 c. water.  Simply combine all the ingredients in the crock pot, and cook it on high for 8 hours.  Periodically give it a stir, adding more water if necessary.  Once it is done cooking, drain the beans, reserving the water.  Mash the beans with a potato masher, or in a food processor if you like a smoother texture.  Add the reserved water as needed to achieve the desired texture.

I made the beans the day before, froze half, and kept the other half in the refrigerator overnight.  I then simply fried them in the skillet the next day, and melted some cheese over them because I don't have enough calories in my life.

For the carnitas, the recipe called for 4 lbs. of pork shoulder, but I just used half of a pork loin that I had in the freezer.  I only cook for three normally, so I can get away with that!  I also had enough left over for another meal, so I made it into BBQ pulled pork sandwiches.  Anyhoo, make a rub for the pork using 1 tsp. each of salt, garlic powder, and cumin; 1/2 tsp. each of oregano and coriander; and 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon.  I was out of coriander, so I added an extra 1/2 tsp of cumin, and used crushed garlic (4 cloves worth) instead of garlic powder.  Rub this all over the meat.  Before putting the meat in the crock pot, lay two bay leave in the bottom of the pot, then place the meat on top.  Then pour 2 c. of chicken broth along the sides of the meat, being careful not to rinse the rub off of the meat.  Cook it on low for 5 hours, turn it over, then cook for another 5 hours, or until the meat will shred easily with a fork.  I shredded it in the crock pot so the broth would keep the meat moist.

I served this up with the refried beans, and made some Vigo brand (insert Ghostbusters joke here) rice to go with it.  I had originally planned to make homemade tortillas to go with it, but ran out of time.  The recipe is also on OAMM's website.

Weeks 9-12 are as follows: coffee, movie/book inspired, breakfast, and cheese.  Bannon isn't a coffee fan (so uncivilized!), so I suspect I'll be doing next week's challenge.  I'm really excited for the movie/book inspired week-Harry Potter or LotR?  My life is full of difficult choices.

Speaking of choices, we want to choose you--to win some tea from Revolution Teas!!  Bannon and I did our first review this weekend, and tried 6 different teas.  We also have tea to give away!  Our review will post on Monday, and we'll be announcing winners on Friday.  Don't let this one pass you by-this stuff is amazing!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

52 Weeks of Cooking Week 7: Love Inspired Cooking

 by Bannon

Love inspired cooking.  What was I going to make for love inspired cooking?  The only thing my kids were begging for on Valentines Day was red milk.  Reddit gave a very wide category this week so I was having a hard time coming up with something I considered love inspired.  Then one night I saw in the refrigerator a can of crescent rolls and remembered a recipe I saw on Pinterest for smores crescents and I knew I had found my recipe.  To most women chocolate = love.

These were super simple to make.  Just preheat the oven to what the package directions say on the crescent rolls.  Separate the rolls and place a few chocolate chips and a few marshmallows on each roll.  Then roll them up like a standard crescent roll taking care to keep the marshmallows and chocolate inside. 

Pop them into the oven, I think they cooked for 12 minutes.  I followed the crescent roll package directions again.

When they came out I saw the one flaw I made.  I should have closed off the ends of the crescent rolls a bit better to try to keep the marshmallows in because they melted right out.

But in the end it really didn't matter because they tasted really, really good.  Simple to make too and kids would love to help make these as well.


I have to say I ignored the 52 weeks challenge the past two weeks due to illness and work but I wanted to let you know what I did.  Two weeks ago was the alcohol challenge and I went super simple and made bratwurst in beer.  The kids and I were sick most that week so I was not into doing anything related to cooking challenges or blogs. 

Last week I did complete the Brazilian challenge but I didn't get around to posting it.  The husband thought it was a bit bland and needed more onion.  I thought it was nice and light.

Brazilian White Rice

  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups hot water
  • Place the rice in a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water; set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion in the oil for one minute. Stir in the garlic and cook until the garlic is golden brown. Add the rice and salt and cook and stir until the rice begins to brown. Pour hot water over rice mixture and stir. Reduce heat to low, cover the saucepan, and allow to simmer until the water has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Oxy Clean and a craft, at last!

Here's the last of what I owe from January!  Now, I do have a confession regarding the craft.  I had said I was going to show you a cheap way to dress up your throw pillows.  Well...I didn't do it.  The idea of hauling out the sewing machine, going to the craft store to get bobbins and whatnot for it, and actually making the time to it seemed too overwhelming.  So I'm tabling it until a later date, preferably one in which I'm home alone in a sparkling house for an entire weekend, where the only people I see will either be one of the cast members of Downton Abbey, or will be the delivery guy from the local Chinese restaurant.  So I did something else instead, which was not nearly as exciting, but it at least was practical.

Here's the Oxy Clean recipe.  You can either make it as needed to use as a soak, or you can use it in a spray bottle.  The mixture is 2 parts water, 1 part hydrogen peroxide, and 1 part of either baking soda OR washing soda.  I had great results from either, but found the baking soda to not play well with a spray bottle.  If you want to use a spray bottle for it, make sure it's a dark colored bottle.  I just recycled an actual Oxy Clean spray bottle, which is a lovely dark blue.  If you make it as needed for a soak, just repurpose a jar with a tight fitting lid, so you can shake it together.  I used it as a treatment on a blanket that Jeffrey had spilled chocolate milk on, and it got it out with no problems at all.  Yes, I give my child the occasional dose of chocolate milk.  He also eats green beans like they're french fries, thinks salmon with dill is tasty, and wants his own salad at dinner.  :-)

My craft made me feel like I was back in Girl Scouts, but I wanted some pretty hot pads to coordinate with my springtime table linens.  So I founds some coordinating fabric pieces in my craft stash, and cut them into 1" wide strips.  I then braided them into a rope that was maybe 3 feet long.  Then I simply wrapped it around itself so it formed a flat, circular mat, stitching it into place as I went.  My final step was to stitch a piece of felt onto the bottom, and voila!  A craft the mother of any 8 year old girl would love.  I know it sounds small and silly, but the braiding was kind of therapeutic.  I intend to hand wash or spot treat it as necessary, but that's because the material I used isn't machine washable.

Next post will have this week's "love" themed recipe, and look for birthday party pic spam, wibbles about my baby's first day of preschool, DIY laundry supplies, and (my favorite) our first review and giveaway!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Productive Day That Wasn't

Today the kids had off from school for teacher meetings.  I had all these plans ready: cleaning up around the house a bit, laundry and the kids and I were going to try our hand at making homemade fortune cookies from scratch for tomorrow's parent-teacher conferences.  Last week I had found a simple enough looking recipe for them on Pinterest (look here for it) and was really looking forward to trying it.

Then life stepped in.

This morning the four of us were sitting around talking when I noticed that one of my older son's teeth was almost completely pink.  After getting closer there seemed to be a chip in the tooth and he then said that he had been eating around that area for a week because it hurt.

So instead of doing fun things with the kids today I got to go to the dentist.  It wasn't the end of the world because since he had the day off anyways the kid didn't have to miss school.  The dentist was able to take the chip off that tooth fairly easily and since it's a baby tooth we don't have to worry about what it looks like.

But when it was all said and done the last thing I wanted to do was go back home and spend what was left of the day baking fortune cookies.  So we stopped in to the local Asian market to buy prepackaged fortune cookies for the teachers tomorrow.  I know they will still like them but it would be nice if a day could go the way I want it to sometimes.

-- Bannon

Monday, February 13, 2012

Venting, booze, and bananas

Hello, all!  Kerry here...feeling very ashamed for letting the blog go for so long.  I'm going to vent a bit about what's been going on in my life over the past couple of weeks, not to spread drama, but because I need to get it out somewhere.

One of my sisters and her husband are divorcing.  They have children that we are very close to-I actually watch them after school every day.  It's been hard to watch a relationship between two people I love fall apart.  I understand the reasons why, and I support them, but I do feel badly for them all.  Especially the girls-they have been remarkably strong and positive through all of this, but occasionally one of them will crack, and you can see the pain and fear when that happens.  It breaks my heart.  There isn't much we can do for any of them besides be there, and we're doing the best we can.  We have an open door policy for them, and as a result, we have house guests more often than usual.  That makes me happy, because I can make sure everyone is in a safe, loving place, even if it's just for a little while.  It does worry me, but I try to keep it to myself, or simply share it with Jeff (I've never felt right calling him Big Dude, so that's done!).  They are family to us, no matter what, and we want to be there for them.

In other news, we're getting ready for Little Dude's birthday party this weekend.  He's three tomorrow!  Where has my baby gone?  He'll also be starting preschool on the 21st, where he'll be able to receive more challenging therapy along with the socialization and normal activities that a preschool brings.  We went today to see his classroom and meet his teacher.  LD seemed happy with it all.  So Bannon is going to be my support group next week and go with me to take him on his first day of preschool.  She's such an amazing friend!

Now that things are a bit calmer here, let me get caught up on my promised, very late posts.  This one will focus on the 52 Weeks of Cooking challenge.  I still owe recipes for the beer/wine/spirits challenge, and the Brazilian challenge.  To save a bit of time, I'm going to link to the first recipe.  I made the Pioneer Woman's Perfect Pot Roast.  The only changes I made were to use more red wine than she called for in the deglazing step, and I used a spice mix from North Market Spices called English Rub instead of the herbs PW used.  It was very tasty and tender, and I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!  Go check out the recipe-Ree Drummond is my blogger/cooking heroine, and I think everyone should know about her!

The recipe for Brazilian week was simple, but oh-so-good...Banana Frita com Canela e Acucar, also known as fried bananas with cinnamon sugar.  Simply peel your bananas (one per person is a good guess) and slice them in half lengthwise.  Fry them in 1-2T of butter (depending on how many you're making), browning first one side, then the other.  Once they are golden brown, sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar and serve them hot.  A side of vanilla ice cream isn't really authentic, but it's good!

Now that I'm getting back on track, next post will be the Oxy Clean and craft for January, then we'll be ready for this week's cooking challenge-a love inspired dish!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A quick, stressful note from Kerry

Just letting you all know that I know I'm behind.  We're having some serious family issues, and my time/attention has been diverted elsewhere.  I'm hoping to get back on track this week.  I know I now owe posts for this week's cooking challenge (cooking with booze!), January's craft, and January's DIY Oxy Clean.  Just bear with me, please!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

52 Weeks - Pan Frying

Kerry here!  Just a quick post about my food challenge.  This week was pan frying, so I kept it simple and fried salmon.  It was seared over medium-high heat, using olive oil.  I placed the salmon skin-side down, then seasoned it with salt and pepper, and squeezed some lemon juice over it all.  I let the skin side go for maybe 3 to 4 minutes, then about the same amount on the other side.  I served it up with a quick dill sauce (sour cream, added lemon zest, green onion, dried dill, and a pinch of salt).  It was all done to taste, so I can't give exact measurements.  One side was cilantro-lime rice.  There was a bit of disagreement going on as to whether or not the rice had too much lime.  If you want to be cautious, I'd skip the step where you add lime to the cooking process.  The other side was just simple steamed green beans with a bit of butter.

Tomorrow will be that long-promised post on DIY Oxy-Clean, and Monday or Tuesday will be a post on a quick and cheap way to change up your throw pillows!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My soup . . a day late as well

and surprisingly similar to Kerry's.

Today in the Bannon house we are tying up lots of little loose ends. Yesterday we had our cub scout Pinewood Derby in which we raced the cars the kids spent the past month making.  I spent the day either selling concessions or cheering on the kids as they raced.  It was very long so today we are having a quiet day at home.

One of the things I needed to finish was to post the soup for the 52 weeks of cooking I made on Wednesday in the crockpot.  Now when I make a soup it's usually potato or french onion, two of my favorites.  Last week I happened to buy a bag of white beans on a whim and I found ham on clearance at Kroger so that was the soup to be made.  I had never made bean soup before because (gasp!) I hate beans.  I am a frugal mom's nightmare!  Beans are always a staple on the frugal mom's meal plan.  But I avoid them like the plague.  So since I am being a good sport with the 52 weeks challenge I thought I'd buy the beans because everyone else in the house loves them.

But back to the soup.  I really did not use a recipe for it.

First I soaked the beans overnight in a pot full of water.  The next morning I then rinsed the beans well with a strainer.

Then I popped the beans into the crock pot and filled it up with more water.  I then put in a few cubes of frozen garlic, and cut some potatoes and ham up to place into it as well.

I let it cook all day on low in the crock pot and then seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.  The men of the house loved it!  I have already been asked to make it again.

- Bannon

A day late!! Week 3 - Soup!

Kerry here, with my surprisingly successful soup recipe!  This is an adaption of one I found on

Use Up That Hambone Soup

1 ham bone with visible meat (if you're worried there's not enough, add some more slices from the ham to the pot)
1 medium onion, diced
1-2 stalks celery, diced (1 if a smaller bone, 2 if larger)
1 tsp. pepper
4 potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
1 stick butter
1/2 c. flour
2 c. half and half
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. chopped cilantro
Salt to taste

In a large stockpot, combine the first four ingredients.  Add enough water to just cover the hambone.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the meat can be easily shredded from the bone with a fork.  Remove bone and any extra pieces of meat from the pot.  Shred ham, discarding any fat and the bone.  Return the meat to the pot.  Add the potatoes, bring back up to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender.

While the potatoes are cooking, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Be careful to not let the butter brown.  Add flour, whisking constantly until fully combined.  Increase heat to medium high, then gradually add half and half.  Be sure to continually whisk while you are adding the half and half, being careful not to scorch the mixture.  Once you have a creamy, bubbly, thick mixture that clings to your whisk, remove the pot from heat.  

Once the potatoes are fork-tender, gradually stir in the cream mixture, stirring constantly until thoroughly mixed.  At this point, stir in the garlic, bay leaves, cilantro, and salt.  Simmer for another 15 minutes.  If the soup is thicker than you prefer, you can thin it with milk.  Remove bay leaves before serving.  We had the soup with a loaf of fresh baked bread and a simple salad.  It was great on a snowy evening!

Yes, I know I still owe posts for a throw pillow craft and for homemade Oxy Clean.  It'll get done before the end of the month, I promise!  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Land O Lakes product review!

Hello, all!  Bannon and I were given the opportunity to try and review Land O Lakes All Natural Eggs, through Vocalpoint.  We haven't received any compensation for the review, and the opinions are strictly our own.

Land O Lakes offers all-natural eggs, from hens that are fed, according to their website, a "premium, all-vegetable, whole-grain diet".  The feed does not have any animal fat or byproducts.  Besides the All-Natural eggs, there are also Organic, Cage-Free, and Omega-3 varieties.  As of right now, Giant Eagle stores carry the line in the Columbus area.  I was able to only find the All-Natural eggs, so those are the ones I tested.

Now, people that know me know that I'm kinda "crunchy".  I pay attention to packaging, ingredients, sustainability, blah, blah...What I'm saying here is that I prefer to get eggs from a farm.  However, the only source I have that I consider to be reliable is through the North Market, which is a bit of a drive for me.  I would love to find a good source at the grocery store.  I really think that there is a distinct taste difference between farm-fresh eggs and the ones in styrofoam at the grocery store.  So when I read on the Land O Lakes page that the eggs have darker, more flavorful yolks, I got interested.

I gave the eggs a test run this morning, along with the pancakes that my Big Dude very thoughtfully made for me to freeze last weekend.  First thing I notice about the eggs is that the packaging is plastic, with some odd piece that folds in to cover the eggs.  It's a kind of trifold packaging.  I'm not a fan of plastic, but at least it should be recyclable.

The eggs are brown and very uniform in size.  The yolk did seem to be a bit darker, but not so much so as to really be notable.  I simply fried them with a bit of salt and pepper.  I really didn't get a lot of flavor difference from them.  They were good, but I think I'd still rather get my farmer's market eggs.  Little Dude did eat them, which is a good sign, since he's really picky about when/how he'll eat eggs.  Just for the sake of comparison, we also tried Simple Truth brand eggs from Kroger earlier this week, and I'd say they're about the same, quality-wise, but I prefer Simple Truth's cardboard cartons.

At 3.29/dozen, these aren't cheap eggs.  They are less expensive than other brands of organic/all-natural eggs, but Vocalpoint does have a way to make them a bit more reasonable.  There is a trivia game on the Vocalpoint/Land O Lakes page that allows you to win a coupon for $0.75 off of one dozen.  My store doubled the coupon, which made the final price $1.79.  You can hit the back button to reload the coupon after the first printing, so you can get a second one.  I believe you do have to be a Vocalpoint member to get the coupon, but Vocalpoint is a decent page to be a member of.  I've gotten free Fresh Express bagged salad, free Mott's apple juice, and free Downy Unstoppables from them, as well as lots of high-value coupons.

So, my final review is, get your eggs from the farm if you can, but if not, these aren't such a bad way to go.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A quickie bookshelf makeover

Sorry for the crappy pics, but we did a 30 minute makeover on the little dude's bookshelf tonight. Supplies were 7 sheets of coordinating 12x12 paper, measuring tape, paper cutter, scissors, trim/rickrack, and adhesive. We just wanted to make it pop a bit. It may not be the best job, but everyone here likes it! Here's the before and after...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Week 2-Chinese

This may be a shorter/more abrupt post than usual, since I (Kerry) am an involuntary lefty for the evening.  Don't grab the handle of a cast-iron skillet that had just come out of a 350 degree oven, kids.

For our Chinese cooking challenge, my twin nieces who don't want to be named came over to help cook/eat with us.  We started out with egg drop soup.

It was pretty easy, and really tasty!  I was told to be prepared to make it again.  Here's your ingredients:

  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk

  • Pour 3 1/4 c. of the broth into a saucepan.  Add the ginger, chives, and salt, and bring it to a rolling boil.  In a small bowl, stir together the remaining broth and the cornstarch until smooth, and hold on to for later.  In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk with a fork.  Use the fork to drizzle a small amount of egg at a time into the boiling broth.  The eggs will cook immediately (and it's kinda cool to watch!).  Once all of the egg has been added, slowly stir in the cornstarch mixture until the soup is the desired thickness.

  • Our main course was a beef and broccoli stir fry with jasmine rice.  We actually prepared the meat marinade before we started the soup, so it had plenty of time to sit while we ate.  My nieces were really helpful during this part-they handled all the chopping, measuring, and mixing for me, so all I had to do was take pictures.  

  • For the stir fry, you'll need a 1lb. flank steak.  Cut it into thin strips (hint-this is easier to do if the meat is partially frozen).  For the marinade, you'll need 2 T. of red wine or dry sherry, 2 T. of soy sauce, 1 t. of minced ginger, and one green onion.  Chop the green onion into small pieces.  Mix all of these ingredients together and marinate the steak slices in it for at least 20 minutes.

  • While it's marinating, you could assemble the remaining ingredients.  Slice 2 red bell peppers into thin strips, and chop up about a half pound (or 2 decent size heads) of broccoli.  You'll also need 1 clove of garlic, 1/2 c. of beef broth, 1 T. of cornstarch mixed with 2 T. of water, 1 tsp. of sugar, and 4 T. of oil for stir frying.  

  • When you're ready to begin, heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and briefly stir-fry it until it is fragrant, which will happen quickly.  Then add the meat (I dumped in the marinade with it), browning it quickly, then stir fry it until almost cooked through.  Push the meat to the side and add the broccoli, as well as more oil if needed.  Stir fry it for a couple of minutes, then add the peppers.  Stir fry a bit more, until the peppers are starting to become tender, then add the broth and the cornstarch/water mixture.  Turn up the heat and stir until the sauce has thickened.  Serve hot over rice or noodles.  The rice I used was Mahatma brand Jasmine rice.  I just followed the instructions on the bag, and it was that awesome combination of fluffy and sticky.

  • I know I also mentioned earlier that I was going to do a test run on an Oxy Clean recipe-I currently have a couple of items soaking for the test, so I'll post about it in a day or so, once I can get it washed.  So be on the lookout for that, a wild rice chowder recipe for the upcoming week's challenge, and a quick and cheap way to update your throw pillows! 

  • PS-I'm having issues uploading the rest of the pictures I had wanted to use, so until I can get it fixed, imagine shots of blond girls slicing meat and cutting up green onions, and a final shot of a tasty bowl of stir fry.