All He Wanted Was a Steak

Have a wonderful day everyone!!!

Melissa

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The Grocery Shopping Festival

There was a time in my life when, if someone gave me the choice of amputating my arm or going grocery shopping, I very likely would have picked the amputation. No one ever made me this offer so I continued to grocery shop.

Grocery shopping was overwhelming even before kids; with all the choices and sales, but once I threw kids into the mix it was downright awful.

There were the typical fights about who got to sit in the cart and the constant nagging on my part for all the parties involved to stay out of the way so I didn’t run anyone over. When my son was three he hoisted himself up to look down into a meat case and fell in. Yes, only his kicking feet were viewable as the rest of his body lay on a clump of packaged hamburger deep down at the bottom. There have always been many dinner suggestions as we stroll down the aisles…either things I don’t want to make, don’t know how to make or things we can’t afford. My favorite expeditions were when my now 5 year old son was 2. He wanted me to steer the cart so I hit every gray tile that was sporadically spread around the store. This was not an easy task unless you wanted to zig ten feet one way and zag 3 feet another way. I wasn’t going to do it and it always ended up in a screaming, howling tantrum that led everyone in the store to just stop and stare. I knew they all thought I had denied him a box of cookies when in fact it was over a GRAY SQUARE.

There’s a grocery store in my town called Festival Foods that offers a free supervised play area. You can drop your kids off and pick them up when you’re done shopping. In theory, it sounded great but when I went there the prices were higher than Wal-mart or Aldi. Our family of five lives on a monthly grocery budget of $300-$350…so every penny counts. They had coupons at the door but it seemed a daunting task to read the sales and scavenger my way through the store. They have an amazing produce, meat and bakery section so I usually only shopped there when I needed some good meat or their delicious croissants.

Festival Foods Grocery Store

That is until I discovered their website! Every Sunday they post their new sale items. All you have to do is click on any of the items you want and it automatically makes a shopping list for you that is printable and well organized. By only buying the food that is on sale I have managed to keep us in that $300-$350 monthly budget and get quality food. No, we are not eating like kings on this budget but we get plenty of healthy things like fruit (grapes were recently $.29 lb.), vegetables (sweet corn was $.10 an ear this week), dairy products (butter was $1.29 this week) good quality meat (fresh chicken breasts for $2.48 a pound) and our cupboards are overflowing!

Everyone at this store is really nice too! Not like a forced customer service friendly either. They are sincerely nice. They smile. If you can’t find something they actually bring you to it instead of pointing. They stop and chat with you. They remember my name and my kid’s names. These are the kind of people you wouldn’t mind sitting down and having a cup of coffee with. (I’ve considered making voodoo dolls for some of the store employees I’ve encountered at other shopping centers!)

The beauty of it all lies in the supervised play area called Tot Spot. Now when I announce that we’re going grocery shopping the kids scream with delight! They love it there and all the girls who work in the play area are really good with the kids. My kids are especially fond of Mandy who plays games with them, taught them how to play dominoes and today let my almost 2 year color with markers for the first time in his life. She sat with him and taught him how to put the caps back on!

Iris, Bency and Cesar in Tot Spot

My husband and I used to utilize this service on Friday night and call it “date night.” We could stroll the aisles in peace and talk to each other without interruption. That is until my husband became a liability and began sneaking packages of Oreos and beef sticks into the cart and I would find his face pressed against the glass containing the king crab legs.

Now I do my grocery shopping during the day when he is at work. It is safer this way. I get the groceries on the list, get some quiet time to myself and can relax knowing that I don’t have to worry about one of my kids knocking down a display or getting run over by my cart! Today if someone made me the offer to amputate my arm or go grocery shopping I would definitely pick grocery shopping! Thank you Festival Foods for making my life so much better!

Close to the front parking for moms with infants. How nice is that? I love all the little details they’ve put in to make this such a great store!

Be Wrinkle Free

Mondays are laundry days here at our house. Tuesdays are ironing days unless laundry day exceeds into Tuesday… then Wednesdays are ironing days.

I love ironing day.

I didn’t always love ironing. It is the most incredibly boring, tedious task in the world. There is a proper way to iron. My mom tried several times to teach me the correct way. Once again, not being a fan of proper ways or following rules I devised my own unique style of ironing. Martha Stewart would not approve.

I for one do not care if the creases in my husband’s pants are crisp and perfect. I do not care if every ruffle on my daughter’s dress is wrinkle-free. I get the majority of the wrinkles out and go on with my day!

When I was pregnant with my three kids, my mom would stop by the house occasionally to see if there was anything to help with. I think I said, “No” but would then mutter something along the lines of “I don’t care if this whole house comes crumbling down.

My mom would delightfully grab the overflowing ironing basket and begin humming, ironing away and rejoicing in the fact she finally got ahold of those pants to put the creases back in their place.

Nowadays, the ironing basket is never overflowing. My best ideas come to me when I’m ironing. It’s a task that requires no thought and leaves my mind open to wander and ponder. If I were to just sit down and close my eyes nothing would pop in my head. I guess I require doing something with my hands and it has to be the most boring activity to really get my juices flowing!

A few months ago we were in the market for a new washing machine and dryer. The salesman showed us the top of the line model claiming you never have to iron again….the dryer takes care of it for you. He said, “See these pants, I pulled them out of the dryer this morning and just threw them on and came to work.” I may not have “Martha Stewart” expectations but my qualification for being ironed and his were completely different. Not only did he not have creases but there were wrinkles everywhere and the cuffs were really messed up! In defense of “high-end” dryers, this guy had blood-shot eyes, smelled weird, and had serious bed head. I think he was actually still half asleep and forgot he actually pulled these pants from underneath a couch cushion and not “straight from the dryer.”

I smiled and told him, “We’ll take the middle of the line option…I like to iron.”

My source of inspiration

I’m Not Sure My Kids and I Would Survive

On Friday, I decided a “fun” outing was in order as the beginning of school is only a week away. I decided upon Heritage Hill which is a living museum situated just down the road from us in Green Bay, WI. It is 50 acres of land that contains several buildings and houses from the 1800’s. Most of them are original buildings that have just been moved to this spot and restored.

As extra bonuses, it was a “free” week for kids and I roped my mom into coming along to help me keep the kids from breaking any valuable antiques and from losing anyone (eh….I mean just to come along for fun)!!

I thought this would be a great opportunity to give the kids some Wisconsin history lessons and make them appreciate the luxuries of the 21st century!

We started out in the Belgium farmhouse and explained to them about the lack of electricity, the fact you had to pump your own water and then boil it for your bath, bring in your firewood to heat the house and about the lack of bathrooms.

The Belgium House

Grandma, Bency and Iris walking around the farmhouse

Sheep outside the farm house

The stove in the farm house

Cesar wearing his puppy ears in his umbrella stroller in the farm house

A cupboard in the farm house

Cesar in the farm house being happy as can be

Iris pretending to churn butter. Iris has a blue dress under this green princess dress. She was playing dress up before we left and asked if she could just leave it on!

We left the farm house and I felt good about the attentiveness of the children, the quality of their questions proving they were indeed listening and the fact no one had touched or managed to break any of the irreplaceable 1800’s heirlooms!

Our next stop was the olden day cheese factory. This one we were not allowed to walk inside only peer through the open door into the replicated set up of the building. My mom was busy explaining to the kids the process of making cheese when I noticed my five year old; Bency, had wandered off and was busy examining a water drainage pipe. Really awesome!!!

The old cheese factory

The next few stops on the tour proved to lose Bency more as he asked to wait outside while we poked around the hospital and officers’ quarters. He clearly did not care the soldiers and the people who needed medical care in the 1800’s were made to lay on cots with mattresses made of hay or the fact that the pharmacist’s office stocked chocolate to help with constipation!

One of the buildings Bency didn’t want to linger in

We set off and walked farther down the path on our way to the fur traders section. Bency stopped to check out a drainage grate in the middle of the road and was mesmerized by it! Really awesome!!

Bency mesmerized with the drainage grate

The kids enjoyed the fur trader’s station because a man there in period clothing had them guess what each of the pelts was. Of course, Bency guesses zebra for the muskrat because he had no idea what it was and he uses any chance he can get to the say the word “zebra” because he loves them!

By this time the kids were getting hungry, thirsty and their legs were tired! We were clear across the other side of the park!! Really awesome!!

We continued walking with me making promises of a nice lunch and drinks when we got home. I let my almost 2 year old, Cesar, out of his stroller and gave the older kids turns in the umbrella stroller. Grandma didn’t whine but I’m sure if I could have fit her in the umbrella stroller she wouldn’t have minded a lift either. This park is built on a huge hill!

Our last stop was at the church. This is actually where my husband Alex and I were married in 2004. It is a great memory and whenever we have come here I’ve taken pictures of the kids in front of the church. Today Bency and Cesar weren’t so cooperative…actually not cooperative all!!

The kids in front of the church where my husband and I got married!

Now Cesar is mesmerized with a different drainage grate….we clearly need to go on a tour of drainage grates for our next outing!

We finally made it back to the van. Bency made a request, “Mom, please don’t ever bring me here again.” REALLY AWESOME!!!

As much as I love the pioneer days and sometimes romance the idea of being catapulted back and living a simpler life; I sure was happy to have that van to get us home so quick so I could whip out that bread and peanut butter I bought at the store and make my kids a nice lunch and put them on their soft comfortable mattresses for a nice nap!

One of the vegetable gardens in the park

Beautiful rose hips on the rose bushes all over the park

Iris and Bency standing in the place where the first court house in Green Bay once stood

Standing on a wooden bridge looking into the creek

Bency is obsessed with the crucifixion lately and is positive that this is the location and cross that Jesus was crucified on

And the Nominees Are…..

This morning I woke up to find that one of my fellow bloggers Ambling & Rambling nominated me for an award. This girl is hilarious! I always appreciate sarcasm and someone who tells things like they are and she delivers on both accounts.

I feel bad though. This is actually the 4th or 5th nomination for an “award” I have received. The first one I received came about a week or two after I started my blog. I had never seen these before and I instantly thought there was some high association out there reviewing blogs and giving out golden trophies to the ultimate winners. I began mentally preparing an acceptance speech. I’m kidding… I didn’t get that far, I was only somewhat disillusioned for about 2 minutes!

None the less, I was very flattered that someone out there was reading my silly little blog and finding it worthy enough to be mentionable in any sort of capacity.

I however, did not follow the rules (I may have mentioned before that I’ve never been good with rules). You are supposed to affix the picture of the award to your blog, write some things about yourself and nominate other blogs that you love.

I did not affix any pictures of the award because I can’t figure it out! I am technologically challenged. It’s quite a feat that I have been able to start a blog at all and I did not nominate anyone else because I can’t always get links to work. I’ve added a handful of links into my blog and I think only one really worked.  I’m crossing my fingers and sprinkling some magic dust in hopes I can “link” today!

Some Things About Me:

  • I waste a lot of time pondering things. Who got to decide that the proper way to refer to yourself and another person is “Alex and I” I much prefer saying “Me and Alex.” How is this a rule? What difference does it make? Will the world collapse? Will no one know what I am talking about? I do however try to say it correctly so I don’t sound like a complete idiot and so I don’t have people correcting me all the time saying, “It’s Alex and I.”
  • I’m hypocritical. As much as I don’t care about perfect grammar. I’m a stickler for correct spelling. I realize not everyone is a perfect speller. No problem. If you don’t know how to spell something, look it up. Don’t make up a spelling to be funny or cute. I don’t think it’s that hard to add an “h” or an apostrophe to “wats up?” Some of these are actually hard for me to decipher.
  • I have read thousands of children’s books. I love them.  Through my hours of reading this genre I have found authors love the word “gasped.” I cannot say this word. My children make fun of me as I stumble over this word every time. I have a plea for children’s book authors to quit using this word. Can the character just breathe deeply?
  • I used to be really irritated with alphabet children’s books. Every book used either xylophone or x-ray for the letter “x.” I was so happy when an innovative author used xigua until my kids asked me what it was and I had no idea! I’m totally cool with xylophone and x-ray now.
  • I love children and senior citizens. I think if we really take the time to listen and observe these two demographics we can learn so much.
  • Writing a blog is really hard (at least for me) and I know a lot of people devote a lot of time and energy into delivering a quality post.

For that reason I would like to recognize the following bloggers who I think are amazing and deserve a “golden trophy”

Corporate Housekeeping

Mom in the Muddle

Wedelmom

The Embiggens Project

She’s a Maineiac

That Funny Blog

Grapes, Gripes & Gratitude

Ambling & Rambling

Living and Lovin

This is just a few that I love and follow! I think anyone who writes a blog deserves a hug, high-five and huge piece of chocolate cake.

Thank you to everyone who reads my stuff. It is so appreciated!!!

Melissa

A Cardboard Box and Scrap of Fabric Will Do Just Fine

A powerful message lay before me the other morning when I saw my 7 year old daughter, Iris, sleeping in her bed with this right next to her:

Kitty in her bed

It may look like a stuffed kitten wrapped in a blanket in a little bed but it said much more to me than that.

The kitten she’s had for some time but the blanket and bed are new.

The blanket was made by Iris about a month ago. My mom and I were canning beets at my mom’s house. Grandma let the kids dye cloth in the beet juice as a fun activity and learning experience.

The blanket Iris made by dyeing a white scrap of fabric in beet juice

The bed is a box that contained 60 new pencils I purchased recently for school supplies. I was going to throw the box away when Iris asked if she could keep it. I scrunched up my eyes and shrugged my shoulders and said, “Sure.” I had no idea why she would want this.

The pencil box Iris used for Kitty’s bed

I do now.

Iris has plenty of doll blankets. Iris has doll beds for her Barbie dolls that are being occupied but none the less I’m sure they would have shared.

Iris made these two things by herself.

That makes these so much more special than anything I could have bought for her.

Kids don’t need expensive toys.

A cardboard box and scrap of fabric will do just fine.

We Are Selling Our Cereal to the Supermarket

I realize I’m not the first person in the world to make their own cereal and hopefully after I show you this fun project we did I won’t be the last!

First, we made our cereal. I researched several recipes and kind of came up with my own that would work best for us:

Homemade Granola Cereal:

  • 4 C. old-fashioned oats
  • 2 C. coconut
  • ¾ C. vegetable oil
  • ½ C. honey
  • 1/3 C. brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • Nuts, dried fruit or any other extras you desire

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  • Toss oats, nuts and coconut together in large bowl. (I didn’t have any nuts on hand so I didn’t add nuts to ours)
  • Whisk together oil, honey, brown sugar and in vanilla in another bowl.
  • Pour the liquids over the oat mixture and stir with a spatula until all the oats are covered.
  • Pour into a 13x8x1 sheet pan.
  • Bake for 30 min.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool. Stir occasionally so mixture doesn’t stick to pan.
  • Add dried fruit (we used dried cranberries)
  • Store in airtight container or Ziploc bag

All the kids getting ready to help…Cesar soon got kicked out because he wasn’t be very “helpful”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure to use old-fashioned oats

Bency adding the coconut

 

 

 

 

 

Iris whisking the liquids

Iris adding the liquid to the dry ingredients

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iris stirring everything together

Our homemade granola cereal baking in the oven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the cereal was cooking and cooling I gave each of my older kids the assignment to make a cereal label for the cereal they just made.

Iris named her cereal “Crunch, Crunch, Munch, Munch, Lick, Lick.” She drew a picture of our family. My husband and I are eating candy bars, the older kids are eating lollipops and the baby is eating a popsicle. I really think this girl might have a future in marketing. How brilliant to disguise a healthy cereal in a box covered in delectable treats!!

Iris’s cereal box “Munch, Munch, Crunch, Crunch, Lick, Lick”

My son Bency, named his cereal “The Life of Goodnis.” I like this! It sounds expensive (despite the misspelling)! It conjures up thoughts of enjoying a bowl of cereal, eating on a patio overlooking an ocean view!

Bency’s cereal box “The Life of Goodnis”

I put their homemade cereal in a Ziploc bag, put it in an old, empty cereal box and attached their new labels!

My kids really liked this project and they LOVED the cereal! Iris thinks we should present it to the “grocery store guy” and see if he wants to buy it from us!

I’ll let my future marketing executive handle the details!

Please Clean Up the Rainbow Poop in the Yard

Our typical Monday morning of cleaning and laundry took a serious twist at 9:00 a.m. when my nieces Lauren and Olivia came biking up our drive way… giggling! They just “happened” to be biking past when they “noticed” (wink, wink) a strange flyer taped to the telephone pole outside our house. They couldn’t stop giggling trying to explain what it was and urging me to see for myself!

Here is what I found:

Lost Unicorn. Her name is Vanilla. She is very nice. Reward if you find her. Call the De Pere Police Dept.

We quickly rounded up my 7 year old daughter, Iris, who is OBSESSED with unicorns and believes in them beyond a shadow of a doubt, to show her the sign. The moment should have been captured on video because words cannot describe the excitement that poured out of her little body! I thought she might be angry that someone who actually owned a unicorn could be so irresponsible to actually lose it but instead her reaction was, “It’s MY unicorn! I know it is! They just renamed her Vanilla!

Iris reading the sign

This past winter, Iris found hoof prints in the snow that were clearly unicorn tracks. She claimed this unicorn as hers and named her Uni. She spent several months calling for Uni everyday…several times a day!

My nieces spent the next few hours helping my son and daughter look for the unicorn. Thankfully, they found her alive and well. She was invisible but Iris felt her mane swish across her arm. It was the most exciting thing that has ever happened to her in her life! The kids managed to tie her to a tree in the backyard and Lauren devised a recipe of magical food to feed the unicorn (grass, yellow flower petals, sand and a little hocus pocus).

Lauren had to run home quick after this (wink, wink) and Iris made a call to the police department on Olivia’s cellphone. The police said that Iris could keep the unicorn (I guess that’s what you get for being a negligent unicorn owner)!  As Iris relayed this information to me I was quite sure there was never a moment in her life that she could have been happier!

After all their hard work I gave my “unicorn crew” some food. Finding unicorns builds up your appetite!

My unicorn crew…they are making horns on their head!

We rounded out the day with a rainbow art project/science experiment! As I’m sure you know, rainbows and unicorns go hand in hand.

We put 2% milk on a plate, added a few drops of food coloring and then poured dish detergent in little by little and watched it react to the milk

It becomes a Beautiful science experiment!

I’m happy to announce Iris has been diligently feeding her unicorn several times a day (unicorns sure eat a lot as it “magically” keeps disappearing) and following our orders of cleaning up all of the rainbow poop in the yard!

Our mundane Monday turned into the BIGGEST TREAT thanks to my nieces who just “happened” to be biking by!!!

A day full of rainbows and fun!

To Sew or Not to Sew

I cannot sew with a sewing machine. My mom can sew. She tried teaching me SEVERAL times but it did not take. I love the concept of sewing and I understand the basic idea of it…unite two pieces of fabric together and bond it together with a threaded needle. I however have never taken kindly to rules. There is a lot of creativeness with sewing but there are rules that need to be followed in order to end up with your desired result.

I can hand stitch though. Well, kind of. There is actually a proper way to do this as well. I think there is actually several proper ways and they all have a name. I myself do not know any of the proper ways but I can get my fabric sewed together in a caveman- like way. I have sewn Barbie clothes for my daughter and I’ve done a few pillows and other simple projects.

This past weekend I was going through some of my 7 year old daughter’s clothes in order to start getting ready for back to school. The majority of her clothes from last year will still fit this year but I’m on a mission to give some of them a new look.

Here is a picture of the sweatshirt I did.

picture of the sweatshirt I did this weekend

I started with a plain purple sweatshirt and hand stitched on some fish and bubbles that I cut out from a different piece of fabric. (Bonus: I went to two rummage sales this weekend where they were selling fabric for next to nothing and giving it away free!)

I do find hand stitching relaxing but if it’s not your thing, they sell fabric glue that would be perfect for this project as well. No sewing…just paste your cut outs on the sweatshirt.

Not only is this project great for updating a look but also perfect for covering up a tough stain or a small hole!

Have fun!!!

Bringing Johnson Gunfrunk Back to Life

My Grandpa Dale was a farmer in southwestern Wisconsin. He died some years back but I can still picture him telling a story. He had a rough voice and even though he always talked calmly it carried well. He was constantly smiling; both with his mouth and his eyes when he talked and would let out a rumbly chuckle here and there. He folded his hands on the table when he talked and would move his head in such a way to accentuate the important parts of his story. He was a master story teller.

My Grandpa wrote countless short stories under the alias, Johnson Gunfrunk, that were published in magazines and in his local newspaper. Today they are still featured in The LaFarge Episcope, a small town newspaper in Wisconsin ran by my Uncle Lonnie.

I wanted to share one of his stories today that proves…Motherhood has ALWAYS been an art form!

Grandma’s Apron

I grew up in an era when all the womenfolk wore aprons and a more indispensable piece of apparel was never invented. Mother Eve probably started the ball rolling but hers was a rather skimpy inefficient model, and about as useful as a bird’s nest with the bottom knocked out.

Grandma always wore an apron and she used it for everything, to gather eggs in, to scoop up strayed baby chickens, she carried hot boiled potatoes to the table in a clean corner of it and then wiped the nose of a snotty grandchild on another corner. It made a handy pouch to carry wood chips and corn cobs for kindling and, although grandma never smoked some her neighbor ladies did, and they carried their clay or corn cob pipes in an apron pocket.

In a pinch it could be whipped off and used as a milk strainer; yes, I have seen that happen, but it was back before the days of milk inspectors.

Aprons were also useful to cry into when the old man came home drunker than a skunk and the missus realized she was going to have to do the milking all by her lonesome.

Grandma could be out slopping the hogs or teaching a new calf to drink out of a bucket when suddenly she would let out a whoop that meant company was coming. Making a beeline for the house, she would snatch off her dirty apron, exchange it for a freshly-laundered one, make a few splashes in the wash dish, pat her hair into place and emerge to meet the guests with poise and confidence.

You seldom see anyone wearing an apron nowadays and the outdoor type farm wives of the present who do get out and mix it up with the livestock all wear blue jeans and a tee shirt. No doubt this is more practical in this mechanized age as an apron would have a great predilection for winding up in a power take-off shaft. However, if I were a little snot-nosed kid again I would rather have my nose wiped on a corner of grandma’s apron than on the cuff of a pair of blue jeans.

By: Johnson Gunfrunk, farm reporter

My Grandpa Dale aka Johnson Gunfrunk