Monday, February 28, 2011

oscar fun

Last night found me in front of my little tv in my bedroom, watching the beautiful people smile for the cameras.  Mike and Charlie have no interest in awards, so they claimed the nice tv in the living room.

As I watched the gorgeous gowns and handsome men, my memory went back to previous Oscar nights. 

As a teenager, I would make up my list of my favorites, make a bowl of popcorn, and groan when my favorites didn't win.  In 1978, I just watched to see the actresses, as I wasn't old enough to see any of the movies that were up for best picture.  Ingrid Bergman was there, I loved her elegance and grace.  So was a very young Meryl Streep, (nominated for her first time, in just her second movie) for her role in Deer Hunter, which ended up winning Best Picture.

Fast forward to 1985, and I was living in a studio apartment in Grand Forks.  My TV was a 9" black and white, and I watched "Out of Africa" win Best Picture while I dreamed of having a handsome man wash my hair.  I imagine I was also doing homework, as it was my last year at UND. 

The late '80's and early '90's found me in Bloomington, and Oscar nights were spent with my friend Beth.  We loved to critique the hair and fashions, and drink lots of wine.  Beth even texted me last night during the show, reminding me of fond memories!

A few years ago I had an Oscar party, red carpet leading to my door and all.  It was great fun, I even made Hollywood 'jewels' for all of my girlfriends.

I enjoyed the show last night.  Never mind that of the ten Best Picture nominees, the only one I had seen was "Toy Story 3"....

I thought Anne Hathaway was a hoot.  Her exuberance really showed through.  At first I was annoyed by her whoops from the sidelines when presenters came on stage, but then I thought, if that was me, I would probably be doing the same thing!!!  She was fun, and it was enjoyable to see what she would be wearing after each commercial.  Which gown was your favorite?  I think the shimmery blue would be my pick.

It was worth watching the entire show just to see Colin Firth's acceptance speech.  So eloquent.  Why do the British seem to have such a much larger vocabulary than Americans?  I like him just the way he is...(name that movie...)

Natalie Portman was just gorgeous, and her acceptance was sweetly heartfelt.  I can't wait to see "Black Swan".
My only complaint is that the Oscars no longer hold any suspense.  Being at the end of the awards season, the winners were pretty much foretold.  But it's so fun to see the stars!

(I apologize for my lack of pictures, I found old movie posters images and such to post today, but Blogger is not cooperating....)

Friday, February 25, 2011

recipe box Friday?

(I really did write this on Wednesday, I was waiting for Mike's pics to publish  it...)

First, back to the snow.  I take back Tuesday's statistics I shared.  I found them on-line, but have seen conflicting information in other places.  Second snowiest, fifth snowiest, whatever.  All I know is it's TOO MUCH.  Just hoping we will have a repeat of last March, when we didn't get a DROP of snow.  Or a flake, or however we want to measure it...

Here is our house, Monday morning after the guys shoveled. 

I am guessing I won't be reposting this in the summer, longing for those wintry days...Here is our house, from the side, before the shoveling:

And here is my poor little car.  It was parked under our carport, so you can tell how much blowing was going on:

The sun has been shining most of the week, so melting has been going on. but it's dang cold today, so the gutters won't exactly be running with water.

Enough weather talk, on to comfort food!

Today's recipe is one you have all made, at some point in your life.  I throw in a couple of twists, so thought I would share.  We enjoyed it immensely Tuesday night.  And leftover lunch was something to look forward to.


1 32 oz pkg. frozen tater tots
1 14 oz. pkg. frozen peas
1 pkg. ground turkey (1.25 lbs)
1/2 c. shredded cheese (I used Swiss )
1/2 c. sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 Tbsp. minced shallots (I used Penzey's dried)
Montreal Steak Seasoning (I used "Spicy" )

Brown the turkey, season well with Montreal Seasoning.  It gives bland turkey a really nice kick!  Throw in the shallots (mine are dehydrated, if you use fresh you would want to cook them before the turkey hit the pan). Stir in the soup and sour cream (1/2 c. measurement is approximate, I just spoon some in).

Spray a baking dish or casserole (the one I use is a little smaller than a 9 x 13) with cooking spray, layer in the meat mixture.  Sprinkle the cheese over the meat, then sprinkle the frozen peas (or whatever veg you like-I often use mixed veg) over the top.  Use as many or as few as you like, I generally use nearly the whole package.  Then it's time for the tots.  You can get creative, I like to use different layouts each time.  Once the tots have topped your dish, bake at 375 for about 45 minutes, let it cool 5 minutes or so, or you will burn your tongue on the hot tots.

Hot tots.  Sounds like a band name or something.

I will be back to more regular blogging next week, I have been using every bit of free time to sew Matilda Jane goodies.  I will be going to a show on Saturday, and then anything left from the show will get posted to my Etsy shop on Sunday.  Hopefully next week I will even have time for a haircut, and to give the holes in my fingers time to heal.

Happy last weekend of February!

Monday, February 21, 2011

snowmagedon, again!

What are the chances that we would get two snowstorms of more than a foot twice in one winter?  (Paul Douglas said it is 1 in 100).  With this snow, we are having the second snowiest winter ever, and we only need 4 more inches to beat the all time record.

I am not exactly giddy about these statistics.

Especially since last week I was out walking in 50 degree temperatures, and there were patches of green grass in my front yard!  I had even started envisioning my back yard gardens.

Instead of taking a picture of the snow, I will remind you of what it looks like in April, on a walk through my neighborhood.  It IS coming, right?

For now, I think I just need to make a tater tot hot dish and hibernate again.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

foggy gloomy rainy drizzly...

..but it's warm, and the snow is melting rapidly, so I am trying to look at the glass as half full.

This will help:

and this:

Come on Spring!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

recipe box Wednesday

Having a hard time fitting in blogging this week, fortunately my sis posted a recipe on her blog today that I am going to share with you, so I can stick with my theme of Recipe Box Wednesday!

If you haven't read my sister's blog, it's a treat.  She doesn't blog often, but when she does, it is so worth it! 

I am going to have her help me put the cool recipe printing feature on my blog that she has,  so it will be easier for all of you to print off the recipes I share.

And wishing my very handsome nephew Kaleb Happy 18th Birthday today-I doubt that he reads my blog, but I needed to share his adorable photo with you!  Remembering holding him when he was a chubby cheeked little baby, there goes time flying by again....

Monday, February 14, 2011

happy hearts!

A Valentine Wish for my dear readers!

An airplane seemed rather appropriate, in my world.  Especially because Mike has been living at the mall since Friday, showing our new flight simulator to a select group of people.  It is beyond description, so I won't even try here.  Now we just have to figure out what our next steps are!

May your day be filled with warm sunshine, sweet chocolate, and hugs from those you love.  Sending one to you!

Friday, February 11, 2011

it's a STEAL

We are the featured STEAL on the Star Tribune website, today through Sunday.  What a deal!

(and it makes an easy, fun Valentine gift !)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

time for trefoils and tagalongs

Not only does February bring one of my favorite holidays, it also brings GIRL SCOUT COOKIES!

(I found this old 1940's image on-line-love it!)

This year I have an awesome connection, a sweet 8 year old girl who is determined to be the number one seller in her troop. I have already been enjoying the shortbread cookies, and the classic peanut butter ones covered in chocolate.  The thin mints remain unopened, but I don't think they wiill last long.  Have you ever tried crunching them up in vanilla ice cream and drizzling with chocolate sauce?  oh yum....maybe we should have a contest on things you can make with girl scout cookies?  Let me know what you think.

If you have no one to buy cookies from, contact me and I will put you in touch with my very favorite little girl scout.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

recipe box Wednesday

First things first, the winner of the Yogi Tea Give away (based on a blind random drawing) : Tracy Lane!  Congratulations!  You will soon be enjoying the soothing benefits of Yogi tea.

With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, it's time for a sweet treat for Recipe Box Wednesday.

Lately I have been craving Red Velvet.  I never did get around to making the cupcakes I promised myself on my blogiversary, but at Super Target's bakery last week I spied Red Velvet sandwich cookies!  Oh my, they were yummy.  So I have been searching for a red velvet cookie recipe, and found one from Paula Deen.

One of the nice things about internet recipes is they often have reviews, which can make a good recipe even better.   Here is the recipe, and I have made the adjustments to it that I found in the most helpful reviews.



1 1/3 cups + 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tablespoons buttermilk

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon red food coloring

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 stick butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time. Then beat in the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla and red food coloring. Once combined, add the dry ingredients to wet. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Onto a parchment lined sheet tray, drop batter using a Tablespoon or small ice cream scoop, forming 1-inch round circles.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until baked through. Cookies should be cake-like and light. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Spread the cream cheese frosting between 2 cooled cookies.

I plan to give these a shot this weekend, for Valentine's Day!  I even found this lovely photo on the web to share, my goal is to have mine look this good.  If you don't want to start from scratch, the recipe that accompanied the photo below starts with a cake mix, and can be found on

If you make either of them, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

cold night, warm music

A concert on a Monday night in February?  I highly recommend it, for taking away a bit of the winter blues.

Mike and I had the great good fortune to see Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt in concert last night at the State Theater.  It was an acoustic evening, just them and their guitars on a simple stage, taking turns playing music from their amazing careers.  They are both prolific songwriters, it was great fun when they performed "Thing Called Love", together, and talked about Bonnie Raitt recording it.

I have loved Lyle for years, that adorable little half smile, the hair.  Oh my, can he play a guitar.  The sounds that eminated from that humble instrument were just incredible.  And Mike admires him as he is a dirt bike rider, and even owns a Ducati dealership.  Very nearly the perfect man (even though Julia Roberts didn't think so, I have to question her taste in men...)

John Hiatt's distinctive voice flowed out from the stage, with tunes familiar and some not so familiar to me, having been a Lyle fan for longer than John.  I adored his rendition of "Ethylene", and can't wait to work my way through his enormous library of music.

Their on-stage presence was warm and humorous, I loved listening to them banter between songs.  They clearly get along well, but also have tremendous respect for each other's talent.  They occasionally joined in on a song, towards the end of the show, and would always shake hands when they had performed something together.  They were kind enough to come back for an encore, and we clearly wanted more music from them in that gorgeous setting.  If you have never been to the State Theater, you must go.  It's truly a gem, and the perfect setting for this concert.

This morning I have pulled out all of my Lyle and John cd's to listen to while I work today, to relive the wonderful evening on a cold Minneapolis night.

Monday, February 7, 2011

is good enough, good enough?

We had Charlie's second quarter conferences on Saturday.  His school keeps his grades and assignments posted on line, so we can check in whenever we want, and know what type of progress he is making.  We had already reviewed all of his class assignments and grades before we went in to talk to his access teacher, so there were no surprises.

The school he attends is tough.  He has one to two hours of homework a night, and expectations are high.  There are no excuses, such as leaving your homework in your locker.  But I think that is a good thing for this age, and that is why he is at this school.  On top of that, he is incredibly smart, so the work is not over his head.

Charlie's grades dropped from first quarter.  While he got mostly A's and a few B's in the first quarter, his grades dropped to B's in the second quarter.  He is now smack dab in the middle of his class in terms of grade point.  And it isn't because he doesn't get the work, it's because his assignments were late, or turned in less than complete.  Because he has decided B's are 'good enough'.

Mike and I have never been pushy about school, or rewarded grades with money.  We don't review all of his assignments before he turns them in, or ask to see every test result.  We do monitor his planner, to see what his work load is like, and check his on-line progress reports.  We see when assignments are late, or when he obviously didn't study very hard for a test.  And we talk to him about it, and find out what is up.  And encourage extra credit, or prod him to study a bit more in the classes where he is falling short.

Last week he had an eye exam, as the school had done a screening and his vision was not great.  So now he is getting glasses, and I am thinking that may have played a part in his deteriorating grades, as his eye exam this summer showed his vision was fine. This quarter will tell.

I remember being very stressed out about school, always striving for an A and feeling bad if I got an A-.  I remember having falling grades in junior high and FREAKING OUT and it turned out I needed glasses too. 

Part of me is glad Charlie doesn't freak out about getting an A-, as I don't think that's healthy.  But part of me wishes he would want to try harder, and not just be happy with 'good enough'.  He is smart enough to do the work, and if he really wanted to he would be getting straight A's.

So as a mom, do I push?  Do I enforce stricter study times?  Or do I let him figure this out on his own, and perhaps he will come to the realization that he wants more than 'good enough'? 

The Lego age was so much easier....

Friday, February 4, 2011

a cup of feel good

Back in November, when we had our holiday boutique, one of the artists shared a cup of tea with me that has changed my life.  Well, maybe that sounds a bit drastic, but this tea company makes the most fabulous tea-ever.

I have been an occasional tea drinker in the winter months-I would usually buy Good Earth, or try other types at a friend's house.  Maybe a cup a week, when I remembered.  I was more likely to make another pot of coffee in the afternoon, rather than turn on the tea kettle.  Now, I drink at least 2-3 cups of tea a day!  I have cut back on coffee, I drink only one or two cups, and only in the morning.

Yogi tea makes over 50 kinds of tea, and each kind is formulated to help your body in some way. 

The first one I tried, and the one that got me hooked, was "Breathe Deep".  After that cup, with flavors of licorice, thyme, and eucalyptus, I found myself feeling really good, both physically and emotionally.  And I vowed to find it on my next grocery run.

Super Target carries several of their flavors, but not the one I had tried.  So I bought "Cold Season", and also "Bedtime".  And unlike many teas that end up languishing in their cardboard boxes in my cupboard, and get thrown out the next winter, I have been going through BOXES of Yogi tea.  Right now I am drinking 'Egyptian Licorice" and can't wait to try more.

Yogi tea is more expensive than other brands, but the flavors are so complex and beautifully balanced-they are more than worth it.  They have teas to help with digestion, skin detoxifying, even natural laxatives.  When you go to their website (I will provide the link in a bit) you can choose your tea by what kind of mood you are looking to achieve and/or what kind of flavors you like, and they will recommend teas for you.  Here is the link if you want to explore:

I can honestly say that I can't wait to put the kettle on!  I even have Charlie drinking tea now, he likes to have a cup when he is doing his homework. 

Are you a tea drinker?  Leave me a comment, with your favorite kind, and I will have a drawing at 8 am Monday morning.  If you are a winner, I will send you a sampler box of Yogi tea!  Then you can find out for yourself how amazing it is.

Please note:  I have not been paid to talk about Yogi, those of you who read me know I am not a 'professional' blogger, and do not get paid for my blogging.  I just wanted to share something wonderful with you!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

button button...

I've got lots of buttons!

I've been busy playing with my buttons, and will have more things in the shop soon.  I will  have a  huge line of made to match Matilda Jane hair goods and bracelets this month too!  They will have vintage button accents,  and even some vintage zippers too.  The line is full of bright spring color, just what we need this time of year.  Stay tuned for the fun!

If I can keep the carpal tunnel at bay, that is...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

recipe box Wednesday

"Away in a meadow all covered with snow

The little old groundhog looks for his shadow

The clouds in the sky determine our fate

If winter will leave us all early or late."

- Don Halley

And more than any year I am pretty sure we are all praying for early...and I heard that was the prediction, so we will see.  As Al Roker just said, that animal is no meteorologist...

In honor of Groundhog Day, a lovely meat stew.  I guess you could use groundhog, but I am thinking it would be a little gamey...I will stick to beef, thanks.  Have any of you actually ever seen a groundhog?  And how did they get the honor?  Why not a woodchuck, or a badger?  Or perhaps a gray squirrel?  Maybe I should do some Groundhog Day reading....and isn't it amazing that if I really wanted to do that, I could, with just a few strokes of my keyboard?  But I digress...

From my nearly endless library of Ina Garten cookbooks:  Parker's Stew  (Please note, you need to start this at least one day before you want to eat it.)  This one is from the book on the left.  Just another wonderful addition to the Barefoot Contessa collection!

Cook time: 2 hours, 20 minutes   6 servings

Parkers's Stew


2 1/2 pounds good quality chuck beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

1 (750-ml bottle) good red wine ( I used a just okay bottle, couldn't bear to use the good stuff...)

3 whole garlic cloves, smashed

3 bay leaves

6 oz. bacon, cut into 1" pieces

2 cups all-purpose flour

Kosher salt  & freshly ground black pepper

Good olive oil

2 yellow onions, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons minced garlic (3 cloves)

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally in 1 1/2-inch chunks

1 pound small potatoes, halved or quartered

 1 (14 1/2-ounce can) beef stock

1 large (or 2 small) branch fresh rosemary

1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas


Place the beef in a bowl with red wine, garlic, and bay leaves. Place in the refrigerator and marinate overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Brown the bacon in a large (12") saute pan for 5-7 minutes, over med-low heat.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a Dutch oven.  Combine the flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Lift the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon and discard the bay leaves and garlic, saving the marinade. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture and then shake off the excess. In the same saute pan,  brown half the beef over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Place the beef in the Dutch oven with the bacon and continue to brown the remaining beef, adding oil as necessary. (If the beef is very lean, you'll need more oil.) Place all the beef in the Dutch oven.

If needed, heat another 2 tablespoons of oil to the large pot and add the onions, carrots, and potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Place all the vegetables in the Dutch oven over the beef. Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade to the empty pot and cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the beef stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat on top of the stove. Cover the pot and place it in the oven to bake it for about 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking. If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 250 or 275 degrees F.

Before serving, stir in the frozen peas, season to taste, and serve hot.

I made this Tuesday night, after marinating the meat starting Monday nightI realized in reading the recipe I copied over here from the Food Network site, that it was a little different than the one in the book.  So I have revised it to reflect the one in the book. The one on the site did not include bacon but added mushrooms, and it used chicken broth rather than beef broth, and used a bit less garlic. 

This was a fairly labor intensive meal, you should have seen the mess I made when I was flouring and browning the beef cubes!  But then, I am a pretty messy cook to start with...

It was very good, and had lots of flavor.  I would use a better bottle of wine next time, as the flavor really does come through since the meat marinates for quite a while. I would use less pepper in the last addition, it seemed to be a bit too much.  It was a wonderfully comforting meal for a cold and windy night, I whipped up some biscuits to go along with it.

I have a lot of stew recipes, and this one by far takes the most time, so I am not sure how often it will get made.  But it made a big batch, and we will have yummy leftovers for the rest of the week!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

the boys of summer

Last Saturday Mike and Charlie trekked up to Little Falls for the annual District 23 end of year banquet.  It's a night of food and fun and reconnecting with people who they spend a lot of time with in the summer.  There are enduro riders, harescramble riders, motocross riders, hill climbers, and quad riders.  Food is eaten, awards are given, and there are even door prizes for the lucky.

Mike got second overall for enduro, and sixth for harescramble (even though he didn't make it to all of the harescramble events).  Charlie got 10th place in his class, which made us so proud, as he has only been riding for a couple of years, while some of these kids have been riding since they could walk. 

For the last several years, Mike has compiled a short video with highlights from the previous year.  Each year he refines it, and this year's was the best yet.   And here it is! (make sure it loads fully before attempting to view, and put it on full screen if you can). 

He has worked on this for MONTHS, and I am pretty amazed by his talent.  He taught himself not only how to take pictures and video, but learned the editing software-which looks unbelievably complicated to me.  I think he likes picking out the music the best...

What a great sport, and fun people.  Not a bad way to spend a whole bunch of endless Sundays!


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