The A to Z of me – Old School Blogging

I am so far behind and the funny thing is that I have no idea how I got here. Blog feed… over 400 entries to get through… 5 Facebook groups I’ve barely been stalking and need to actually take part in… Twitter… eh, very few actually chat there anymore.

Regardless of the weekend was great! And I think that it was worth getting a little behind because I was able to spend time with my family and really enjoy it. When was the last time that you really unplugged and had a great weekend?

So to make things a little easier for me and because I love this meme it’s time for some fun blogging… old school style with Elaine from The Mis-Elaine-ous Life! You know a meme couldn’t get any easier than this too because it’s only once a month and you just have to follow the prompt which is usually just a series of questions. Come on… you know you want to join in.


Alphabet Meme

A. Attached or Single? Married… attached… and happily so.

B. Best Friend? My sister is my best friend. There is rarely a day that goes by that we don’t talk to one another… IM (yes, we still use it), text, or actually talking on the phone. I just wish that we lived closer together.

C. Cake or pie? Hmm… I will have to say both. Cake is awesome. Pie is awesome. I even think that someone on Food Network combined the two together once.

D. Day of choice? The one where I get to do what I want all day long.

E. Essential Item? Silly question… my iphone.

F. Favorite color? Lately I’ve been on this kelly green kick. I just love the color!

G. Gummy bears or worms? Sour worms or bears. Mmm…

H. Hometown? I grew up in Lapeer, Michigan but now call Owosso, Michigan my home.

I. Favorite Indulgence? I have several most of which I don’t get to indulge on because it’s something that is incredibly full of calories, I lack the time, or money.

J. January or July? July. January sucks here in Michigan. July can be hot and humid but at least there is the beach, pool, and A/C to help with that. January… it’s cold, gray, frozen, and unless you like being out in all that snow there isn’t much to do.

K. Kids? Duh…. 4 kids. Three girls (17, 13, 11) and one boy (3).

L. Life isn’t complete without? My family, friends, Diet Coke, and my iphone.

M. Marriage date? 05/19/07

N. Number of brothers/sisters? I have one of each.

O. Oranges or Apples. Apples. Especially in the fall when all the farmers markets and orchards have fresh apples.

P. Phobias? Lice… need I say more?

Q. Quotes? I like quotes. I don’t know that I have a favorite one though or one that sticks out in my head. I will say that my sister always says, “it is what it is” and I find myself using it, but it really is true.

R. Reasons to smile? I don’t think that anyone needs a reason to smile. Just do it… it makes people wonder what you’re up to. LOL!

S. Season of choice? Fall. It’s still a bit warm, the breeze is just starting to get a chill to it, the air smells of crisp leaves, fall bon fires, and the colors. Oh, the colors are beautiful around here.

T. Tag 5 People. Jill, Jessica, Wendy, Emmy, Kmama

U. Unknown fact about me? Well, if I tell you then it won’t be unknown will it?

V. Vegetable? Yes. I like them a lot… except mushrooms and olives. My favorite is cucumbers with a little bit of seasoned salt on them.

W. Worst habit? Cracking my neck.

X. Xray or Ultrasound? Ultrasound. I always loved going to get an ultrasound when I was pregnant and getting to see my babies. Except that one time… that sucked.

Y. Your favorite food? All of it. Except mushrooms and olives, but I said that already…. and liver. They’re disgusting. Mostly sweets though. I really like dessert!

Z. Zodiac sign? Libra

Don’t forget to tweet about Old School Blogging with the hashtag #OSBlog and please tag your friends if you link up!

Drive It Home: Keeping teen drivers safe

Remember last week when I shared that I was going to the Allstate Foundation Drive it Home event? Well, at first I went and didn’t think that I was going to learn much… I mean I was a teen driver at one point, I have a teen that drives, and I’ve seen the stats here and there over the years and even more since my daughter started driving. But I learned a great deal and some of the stats that they shared were eye opening.

  • According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were 367 fatalities in crashes involving at least one 15- to 19-year-old motor vehicle driver in Michigan from 2009-11. A total of 120 teen drivers (15-19), 74 teen passengers (15-19) and 24 other age passengers in the teen’s vehicle and 149 others were killed in those crashes.
  • Michigan teens must log a minimum of 50 hours of driving practice before they can obtain a driver’s license.

I knew that my daughter had to get a minimum of 50 hours and we made sure that she drove us around every chance that we had and we even made her wait to get her license well after her birthday in December because we didn’t want her first time driving alone to be in the middle of winter. It was a wise choice in our eyes and it gave her more practice time behind the wheel in the various winter conditions here in Michigan.

drive it home

Here are a few other things that I learned that will be useful tips.

  • You need to let them earn their freedom and let then earn your trust.
  • Crashes are the leading cause of death for teens – inexperience is the biggest reason
  • There are twice as many crashes before cell phones
  • Most moms teach parallel parking more than anything else.
  • Leading cause of crashes is not looking ahead at what’s coming… Teens look at the headlights in front of them instead of what’s going on around them.
  • Kids are the group least likely to wear seat belts and many of the kids who died in crashes would have survived if they wore seat belts.

Recently, Michigan passed Kelsey’s Law which states that teen drivers with Level 1 or Level 2 licenses under the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving. Violations of Kelsey’s Law will be a civil infraction with fines up to $100 as well as possible additional costs up to $100. There are no points associated with this civil infraction and it does not impact status in the GDL program. Exemptions to the law include emergency situations and integrated, voice-operated devices.

We have Bonnie Raffaele to thank for advocating for this law but it was not without a cause very near and dear to her. Bonnie’s teenaged daughter, Kelsey, died in a crash in 2010 just around the corner from the high school she attended and was on the phone while she tried to pass another car. She misjudged the distance of the oncoming car.

She also started the KDR Challenge which focuses on the youth in Michigan and educating them on the dangers of using a cell phone while driving. KDR stands for Kids Driving Responsibly and are Kelsey’s initials.

If you have the opportunity to attend one of the Drive It Home events I highly suggest that you check it out… even if your kids aren’t teens quite yet. It’s definitely worth it and the information is priceless.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Wordful Wednesday – Family Pictures

It was brought to my attention by my kids (I already knew… I did really) that we hadn’t had family pictures taken in several years. Six years to be exact. Now, in my defense we have gotten the kids pictures taken several times over these past six years…. individually and together. I guess getting us into the picture hadn’t crossed my mind.

I planned for fall pictures because there is nothing prettier than pictures with all the leaves changing colors around us and a beautiful blue sky. Well, that didn’t work out and we ended up with late fall pictures. The leaves had mostly fallen and it was really freakin’ cold!

Despite the lack of leaves and warm sun we had an amazing photographer who took some really wonderful pictures and was even able to get the toddler to mostly hold still and smile for her. That alone was worth it.

 
Of course I had to include the fun ones… because it’s those that really show the kids true personalities. And that picture on the left… well, that one is really Natalie.

 
Caitlin is fun, beautiful, and scary intelligent. Right? Although, I think that she’s a little afraid of her brother.. especially when he’s chasing her with a big stick.

 
Here are the littles. Well… not so little anymore. But they’re pretty damn cute aren’t they?

I saved the best for last… the family picture. I have a few of these that I considered sharing but why share that perfect picture that took forever? Why not share one of the pictures that embodies who we are… who we really are.

Not a single one of us is paying attention to the camera and I have no clue what in the world I was thinking, doing, or saying. I just have a crazy look on my face…

How did your family pictures turn out?

If you live in Michigan and are looking for a great photographer for anything… family, kids, seniors, weddings, and even boudoir pics then give Amy from Darkroom Diva’s a call. I can’t say enough about her photography skills! I didn’t get anything for sharing her info here… I just love her work.

Linking up with Seven Clown Circus and Parenting by Dummies for Wordful Wednesday!

48 Questions

I couldn’t think of anything really good to write about today and I threw this in as a draft when I saw Theta Mom’s post just like it (Yes, I borrowed it… she said it was ok). I thought that it was a pretty cool idea any way and was going to create this awesome inforgraphic for it, but that proved to be really time consuming… and I was feeling lazy. I did add some pretty color to it though!

So here you go…. a bunch of random questions and my answers… all about me.

1. Were you named after anyone? 

Why yes I was! Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

2. When was the last time you cried?

Hmm… I honestly do not remember.

3. Do you like your handwriting?

Yes, I do. I like to write and use a good pen & paper still.

4. What is your favorite lunch meat?

I like the good stuff… maybe some peppered turkey.

5. Do you have kids?

Umm… have you read my blog before? Yes. 4.

6. If you were another person, would you be friends with you?

I think so. Honestly, who would say no?

7. Do you use sarcasm a lot?

Me? Never…. (wait, you can’t hear my tone can you? crap… yes, I use it a lot)

8. Do you still have your tonsils?

No, they threatened to close my throat so they were ripped out when I was 4.

9. Would you like to bungee jump?

No. Never. Not in a million years.

10. What is your favorite cereal?

I like cereal that isn’t coated in fake fruity flavors or 2 lbs of sugar. Lately, I’ve been eating Quaker Oatmeal Squares.

11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?

No, because most of them don’t tie.

12. Do you think you are strong?

I suppose that it depends on what you mean when you say strong… physically? I’m okay. Mentally? Depends on the day.

13. What is your favorite ice cream?

Just a plain vanilla. Smooth, creamy, and simple. Now this is not to say that I don’t love a dark, creamy, chocolate… I do! There is just something about vanilla.

14. What is the first thing that you notice about people?

What they’re wearing.

15. Red or pink?

Pink

16. What is the least favorite thing about yourself?

My utter lack of willpower.

17. Who do you miss the most?

My mom. No, she isn’t dead. She’s just made the choice to live her life apart from her family.

18. What is the technique that you need to work on most?

I need to learn to speak up more. I have the tendency to keep my mouth shut even when I know that I should speak up.

19. What color shoes are you wearing?

I’m not wearing shoes.

20. What is the last thing you ate?

Veggie stir fry with tofu.

21. What are you listening to right now?

The State of the Union speech.

22. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

Purple. I love purple. Not lilac.. not lavender… not some off shade of violet. Just a true purple.

23. Favorite smells?

Fresh laundry. Crisp leaves in the fall. Apple pie baking in the oven. Babies.

24. How important are your political views to you?

I’m not a political person. But my views are important to me just as yours are important to you.

25. Mountain hideaway or beach house?

Both as long as there isn’t snow there.

26. Favorite sport to watch?

On TV… Football. In person… whatever my kids are playing.

27. Hair color?

Brown with a bit of silver. 

28. Eye color?

Blue

29. Do you wear contacts?

No

30. Favorite food?

Pasta!!

31. Scary movies or happy endings?

Happy endings. Do you think that there is such a thing as a scary movie with a happy ending?

32. Last movie you watched?

Hotel Transylvania

33. What color shirt are you wearing? 

Pink flannel jammies with teddy bears on them. #DontJudge

34. Summer or winter?

Fall

35. Favorite dessert?

Chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.

36. Strength training or cardio?

Both, because I need them both to get where I want to be.

37. Computer or television?

Again, both. It depends on what I’m doing and how much attention it requires.

38. What book are you reading right now?

The Winter Witch – AWESOME book so far too!

39. What is on your mouse pad?

Funny story… I actually have one at work because my mouse refuses to work on any surface without it even though it’s new.

40. Favorite sound?

Silence. Soft baby signs. My kids getting along.

41. Favorite genre of music?

I really like a lot of different kids of music. Picking a favorite genre is to hard.

42. What is the farthest you’ve been from home?

I’m lame… Arizona or Niagara Falls I suppose is the farthest.

43. Do you have a special talent?

I just said I’m lame… so no.

44. Where were you born?

Dearborn Heights, Michigan

45. Where are you living now?

I’m still here in Michigan.

46. What color is your house?

Beige/Tan color.

47. What color is your car?

Brown

48. Do you like answering 48 questions?

Sure! They’re not really challenging.

So there you have it. 48 random questions and answers all about me.

What about you? Do you feel up to answering them?

Monday Menu ~ U.P. Pasties

Many years ago in what seems like another time and place I would spend weekends in northern Michigan with my parents (yes, parents. Meaning they were still married) at my moms parents house. My grandparents were amazing people and I loved spending time with them and listening to the stories that they told of times gone by. Stories of when my mom and her siblings were growing up in Detroit, how my grandparents came to this country from Italy and lived in the U.P.

grandparents

Over the years my grandma would make pasties for us but to make things easier she would use a 13×9 cake pan and make one huge pasty. It was so delicious and I loved watching her and my mom putting it together and the smell of it as it baked.

U.P. Pasty

So what is a pasty? It’s a meat & veggie pie that originated in Cornwall, the westernmost county in England. The pies were made for the mine workers who could take them in their lunches and eat them easily with one hand without silverware. The pasties have even been made with a custard filling on one half and the meat and veggies on the other side so they had dinner and dessert all in one easy to handle package.

pasty prep

Even to this day when we all meet together at my aunts house there is pasty made just the way my grandmother used to make it for us all of those years ago. It’s amazing how something like a meal can hold so many memories in it’s simple prep, delicious aroma as it bakes, and flavors.

pasty prep 2

Every once in a while I find myself wanting pasty and often will buy them from the grocery store. They’re pretty good but they’re not the same as what my grandma made so this time I decided to make it from scratch. Just like she did.

U.P. Pasties

Ingredients

    Pasty Crust
  • 3 c flour
  • 1 c Crisco
  • 1/4 butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ice water
  • Pasty Filling
  • 1 - 2 lbs ground beef - I used ground chuck (80/20)
  • 2 - 3 potatoes
  • 3 carrots
  • 1/2 rutabaga
  • 1 onion
  • 1 - 2 tsp garlic
  • salt & pepper
  • couple of tablespoons of butter

Instructions

    For the crust:
  1. Cut the Crisco and butter in the flour and salt until it resembles sand with a pastry cutter, a fork, or a food processor. I went the more traditional route and used the pastry cutter just like my grandma used to.
  2. Add in the water a tablespoon at a time until it forms a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes or so.
  3. For the filling:
  4. Peel and chop all of the veggies into small bite sized pieces and mix them together in a bowl.
  5. Put it together:
  6. Cut the dough into two equal pieces and roll one of them out to fit the botton and up the sides of a 13x9 pan. Carefully roll the dough up onto the rolling pin and then roll it out into the pan and press into place.
  7. Layer the veggies and ground beef until the pan is full. You'll have to crumble the ground beef with your fingers to get it into small bite sized pieces.
  8. Roll the other piece of dough to cover the top, roll over the rolling pin as before, and unroll on top. Pinch the two crusts together and it's ready for the oven.
  9. Bake:
  10. Place the pan on a cookie sheet and place it in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for about an hour.
http://www.withjustabitofmagic.com/monday-menu-u-p-pasties

I was impressed because I truly did not expect my pasty to turn out as well as my grandma’s but it did. Everything about it took me back to another time and place. A place where my grandma was in the kitchen baking, my grandpa was in his recliner watching the Tigers game, and my brother, sister, and I were running in and out playing games only kids can imagine.

Do you have a special memory that centered around food?

The Idiot Driver

Okay, remember last week or so when I posted on Facebook about the idiot driver who rode my tail and then passed me in town and how he was getting his very own blog post? Well, this is it.

So it was another Michigan morning and I was on my way to work. As usual the roads were a bit snow covered and slick in some spots… it was early so the only spots that had been salted were curves and intersections. Pretty normal for around here.

I’m driving along and minding my own business and making sure that I didn’t slip off the road into a ditch and roll over again. For me this is a big deal because I’m a chicken when it comes to snowy/icy roads and have this fear that I can’t seem to kick. My husband thinks I’m crazy… but whatever.

Anyway, back to my story.

I’m driving along the back country road and going the speed limit because this one time I was going just a tad bit fast and got a ticket… why is a country road marked as 50mph anyway? So this truck pulls onto the road and figures that the speed limit is just a recommendation or something optional I guess and comes flying up behind me.

He followed me, pretty much glued to my bumper, for close to 3 or 4 miles! Through three intersections and one of them being a major one! I wasn’t even through it and he was right there behind me. Now, I can see him being in a hurry if he had his wife in the car and she was in labor but nope, he was alone.

Alright, by this time I was just annoyed! I thought about hitting my breaks but he was way to close and I knew he’d hit me… he was a freakin’ moron!

And to prove that point, once he was through the third intersection and almost to the fourth he passed me! Normally, this isn’t a big deal BUT… we were in town, in a residential area, near an elementary school, AND there were kids out walking to school. He passed in me a 25 mph zone and kept on speeding up until he got to the stop light. So, at the red light he barely stopped (what some of us call a Michigan roll) before he turned right and sped off down the road.

If I were doing something wrong I’d admit it… probably… but this time I was following the speed limit and making sure that I wasn’t doing something to cause an accident on the crappy roads. This guy… he was a complete and total idiot.

I’m pretty sure that beeping my horn at him as he passed didn’t even phase him.

Have you run into an idiot driver like this?

What did you do?

Wordful Wednesday ~ Winter Fun

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a big fan of winter.

I hate being cold and wet and once I get a chill it’s sometimes hard to get warm for a while. For some reason though this does not seem to affect kids and I have no idea why.

Lauren & Andrew in the snow

They’re willing to get all bundled up and head outside to play in the snow all day long. It won’t matter that their gloves are caked with snow or that their faces are red and noses runny because they’re having fun making snow angels. They build snowmen, toss snow balls back and forth at one another, and get along for more time than they normally do when they’re inside.

snow angels

Michigan is a winter wonderland… sledding, skiing, ice skating, and snowmobiling are just a few of the things that make winter fun… if you like the snow and cold weather that is.

Andrew having winter fun

Maybe this year I’ll give in and try to find all of the warmest articles of clothing possible and actually go snowmobiling with my husband… of course there will be a compromise though because I want to give snow shoeing a try!

What about you…

                      Do you like the snow?

                     Are winter sports your thing?

                     Can you tell me why kids don’t seem to be affected by the cold?

Hey… it’s Wednesday so I’m linking this awesome post up with Seven Clown Circus and Parenting by Dummies!

Monday Menu ~ Chicken Soup

Fall is upon us and that means cozy sweaters, warm boots, and delicious soups & stews that warm us from the inside. It’s no wonder that it’s my favorite time of the year.

This week on the Monday Menu I have another tasty recipe or so I think. Homemade chicken soup with huge egg noodles!

While I was at the Mitten Mom conference I was given a package of Al Dente Pappardelle. These are the most delicious egg noodles ever… and more importantly the company is based right here in Michigan. Yes, another amazing product made right here in the mitten state.

al dente pasta

Al Dente uses only the best ingredients from the wheat to the spices and care is taken in all of the varieties that they offer such as Spinach, Egg, Garlic Parsley, Basil, Squid, Wild Mushroom and Spicy Sesame. They also have whole wheat and reduced carb options too.

Okay, so back to my recipe. The ingredients are really simple and you can make the recipe simple or take more time and really go all out with it.

Homemade Broth

  • 3 Chicken breasts – bone in with skin.
  • 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • 1 medium onion cut in quarters
  • 1 – 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt & pepper
Put everything in a large stock pot and then fill with enough water to cover everything. Bring it to a boil and then let simmer for 2 hours. Remove from the heat and pull the chicken out and put it on a plate until cool enough to handle. Strain the broth through a fine sieve.

Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrot chopped

chopped veggies

  • 2 chicken breast cut up (use the chicken from the broth, a rotisserie chicken from the store, or saute two cut up chicken breasts)
  • Chicken broth (use the homemade broth or 2 32oz containers from the store)
  • 1 -2 Bay leaves
  • 1 package of Al Dente pasta

 Method

In a large pot or dutch oven saute the onion, carrot, and celery just until they start to soften. Toss in the bay leaves, pour in the broth, and then bring it to a simmer. Cook for about 5 – 7 minutes and add in the chicken and the noodles and cook until the noodles are done.

adding the noodles

Pull out the bay leaves and enjoy!

chicken soup

I tossed in a hand full or two of frozen peas when I put the chicken and noodles in just for some extra flavor/color in it.

But look at those awesome noodles! I love really wide egg noodles in my soup and the next day they soak up a lot of the broth and it makes the soup really thick.

soup in a bowl

You can also thicken the soup up with some corn starch or flour and serve it in homemade bread bowls. No matter how you make it your family is sure to love it.

What is your family’s fall favorite soup? 

Monday Menu ~ Bean Soup

A few weeks ago I spent the weekend up north in Petoskey, Michigan at a wonderful conference, Mitten Moms Blog Conference & Retreat. It was a great weekend and one of the awesome things that were in the swag bags were Michigan made Randall Beans.

randall beans

I love beans too! But one of my all time favorite comfort foods is soup and bean soup is one of those things that brings me back to my childhood.

As a child my dad would take me with him to various muzzleloading shoots (something similar to this) and they always had this huge black kettle of bean soup simmering over an open fire, to me it looked like a huge cauldron. It was the smell of the soup mixed with the burning wood, cool crisp fall air, and gun powder that was so warm and familiar to me.

Every fall I try to recreate that feeling by making my own pot of delicious bean soup. Yes, try… because it never turns out perfect, but then again I’m not cooking it out over an open fire.

chopped veggies

This time I was a little closer but I added a little to much broth. So the recipe…

chopped ham

Ingredients

2 (24oz) jars of Randall great northern beans (drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup chopped onion (or more if you like)
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 – 2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup chopped smoked ham (it has to be smoked! Not honey baked or anything like that or it won’t taste the same)
6 – 8 cups of chicken broth
2 Bay leaves
salt & pepper to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil

How to

Heat the oil in a large pan and saute the veggies just until soft and fragrant and then add in the garlic and ham.

saute veggies

Stir for a few minutes and add the broth.

broth

I’ll admit that this time I didn’t use a homemade broth and thought that I’ve try something new. This Better than Bouillon stuff is pretty good! I followed the directions on the jar to make the 6 – 8 cups of broth that were needed for the soup. Bring it up to a simmer and let it cook for about 10 minutes before adding in one of the jars of beans and returning to a simmer. Let this cook covered for about 30 minutes or so.

Now, the 2nd jar of beans I mash up and add into the soup during the last ten minutes of cooking or so just to thicken it up a bit.

bean soup

Like I said earlier, it wasn’t perfect but it was still incredible and it’s even better the next day!

soup & bread

This is great with some warm, homemade bread or corn bread. Oh yea… I almost forgot… remove the bay leaves before you eat it!

Enjoy!

The winds of change

This will be one of those short posts because I am exhausted and have had a raging headache for the majority of the day. But I do want to let you know what an incredible weekend at the Mitten Mom’s conference up in Petoskey. I learned so much and met so many wonderful people that had so much knowledge to share with everyone who was there.

There was one little phrase that has really stuck with me this weekend. One that has got me really thinking about where I am, where I’ve been, but more importantly where I want to be.

“I took myself seriously…” and the woman who spoke those words (and so many more inspiring ones) is Sommer Poquette.  That phrase is leading me to make a lot of changes around here and in my life. So stay tuned!

That’s all the words I have for now… I’ll give you more of an update on what I learned at the conference later. In the mean time take a look at a couple of the pics from the weekend.

Mitten Mom Group

Me & my Cinch partner Maggie! My phone must have been all smudged up or something because this is one hell of a blurry pic!

Mitten Mom Group

Check out our awesome group of Michigan Bloggers!

The winds of change are coming….. can you feel it?