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!