Thursday, June 6, 2013

Let's Pretend This Never Happened

If you were planning to read this post to your kids as a bedtime story because I’m sure many of you do that or use it as a dinner table conversation starter, I’m warning you right now DON’T.  Just don’t.  Take it from me, I lived it. 
So I’m 35 now (I know can you even believe it?!?) and with great age comes great maturity and wisdom.....or something like that according to Spiderman. 

Never was that more evident than when it came time to name our new (ish…we got him in March but who’s fact checking here?) peacock.   We just hadn’t gotten around to naming him for whatever reason.  These things require a lot of thought and time to research and just can’t be taken lightly. 

So on our way home from one of my birthday celebrations it dawned on me, “we haven’t named our peacock yet!  I’m gonna google clever peacock names!”  Uhhh note to self, google isn’t always your friend.  GI Joe was driving, the kids were in the backseats chattering away, it was a beautiful night, the stuff wholesome 50’s sitcoms are made of.   Without a second thought, I clicked on the first website that google brought up and began reading OUT LOUD “clever peacock names.”  Here’s how that worked out. 

*Spoiler Alert:  NOT WELL

Me:  Huh, well this website is dumb it has boring peacock names like Chris Peacock.
GI Joe:  Stop, just stop.
Me (seriously oblivious):  why, did you think of a good name?  I just don’t get why Chris Peacock is on this list?
GI Joe (nearly pulling off the road because he’s laughing so hard, this of course makes the children stop their chattering and pay attention):  LISTEN to what you’re saying!
Me:  CHRIS PEACOCK.  Yeah so what?
GI Joe (can’t breathe):  OK never mind just STOP SAYING IT.
Kids:  Saying what Mommy?!?
Me:  This website says we should name our peacock Chris Peacock and I don’t get why that is so stinking funny to your father.
GI Joe (he’s dead, stopped breathing):  STOP SAYING IT.
Me:  (slowly) Chris Pea....cock…….OOOOOOOOH!  OH MY GOODNESS!  That is so wrong!  I can’t believe I didn’t hear that!  Why didn’t you say something?!? 
Kids (looking to their father for wisdom):  Why aren’t you breathing Daddy?  What is wrong?  What does Chris Peacock mean?
GI Joe (still laughing and gasping for breath):  Nothing guys, just quit saying it! 
Me:  (washing my mouth out with soap but in my head can now hear nothing but the inappropriateness of Chris P…eacock..ugh)

(Also, admit it you didn’t get it at first either until you read it out loud three times, hopefully ALONE.)

Then we got home and I posted this unfortunate blunder on Facebook,  and my FB page blew up with other naming “suggestions”.  I won’t list out the suggestions we were given because this is, well, WAS a family friendly blog.  But let’s just say I have some very, ahem, creative? friends.  And for the record I like the name Drew but for a child NOT a peacock.  Ahem…. CRAIG SHOGREN.
Then GI Joe’s Dad (THE PASTOR) called and GI Joe told him, “You’re daughter in law wants to name our peacock Chris.” 
“Say it…..Chris Pea…”
(lightbulb moment which to his credit was EONS before mine) “OOOOOH I don’t suppose I should.”

And then I was shunned from the family and stripped of all my Baptist responsibilities.

The worst part?  No matter how we try,  EVERY. TIME.  we look at our peacock we think, “Chris”. 

So here he is.

Chris (I feel dirty) Peacock

Yeah, it’s his name, it just kinda….stuck.  
And I know what you're thinking and yes,
That's what she said.
I'm sorry, it had to be done.  See you again...never?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Life Lately w/ Food Friday Bonus

Blog, oh blog how I’ve missed you.  You know what I stink at?  Balancing  real life with, you know, blogging about it. 

A few highlights of what I’ve been up to in my prolonged absence (again) before I give you the best recipe EVER.  I mean, like, EVER.  EEEEVVVVEEEERRRR.

We went to Tennessee and Florida for Spring Break (oh and the states in between Iowa and FL too since we drove).  It was perfect and fun and warm and the kids got 3rd degree sunburns because I fail at momhood and did not slather them with the appropriate level of sunscreen.   And while normally they never burn and instead just tan no matter how long we’re out or if the sunscreen gets worn off or even if we forget the sunscreen altogether, apparently their skin wasn’t prepared to come out of Iowa winter hibernation.  So yeah , oops.  But that didn’t stop us from going back to the beach the next day (and perhaps a day or two after that ), I mean HELLO we drove 20 hours to hit the beach we are not sitting in a hotel playing cards when there is an ocean nearby.  So we lathered up with super high spf and all was well and my soul was at peace.  I love the beach so much. 
On our 3rd, fine 4th day at the beach, not consecutively mind you but 4th nonetheless, the kids informed me that I *may* have ruined beaches for them because we go to them so much and could we please go back to the mountains and Yellowstone sometime?  Well EXCUSE ME, last time I checked there was no ocean in Yellowstone or the Rocky Mountains and mama needs her beach time.  Aren’t they such deprived children that you feel sorry for?  Not.  We also hit Sea World while we were there and I really really REALLY wanted to bring home a dolphin but alas we had to settle for just feeding them.  Oh and the kids had to settle for GI Joe and I rubbing it in that we got to SWIM with dolphins on our cruise last November.  Yes, they loved us for that.  Here wanna see?    

I’d settle for  a killer whale too, they’re just harder to smuggle out of Sea World.  Darn security. 


We spent a couple days on the panhandle of Florida in this super cute beach town where our friend David, best man in our wedding, lives with his wife and son.  We had so much fun hanging out with them (it had only been 13 YEARS!) and eating the Florida seafood feast that David prepared for us.  Grouper, clams, shrimp, scallops, we had it all and it was so SO good. 

I don’t know if you guys know this or not but Florida has some dang good seafood and we made it a personal goal to eat as much seafood as possible while we were there.   Mission accomplished.  And now my mouth is watering.  Yum.

Our very last day in Florida, a Friday,  we spent on Daytona Beach because we’re crazy and brave like that.  I mean, Daytona Beach on Spring Break?  Recipe for disaster and/or a whole lot of life lessons for the kids such as “See that right there?  That’s why we’re NEVER letting you go on a spring break trip with your friends without us when you’re in high school”.  But it really wasn’t as spring break crazy as I’d thought it would be so we had a fantastic day of the boys playing football on the beach while Dakota looked for shells intermittently asking if we could leave yet (13 is a fabulous age ya’ll) and I sat on a blanket soaking up the sun and ignoring texts from our family back in Iowa telling us about the winter storm that promised to bring 4-7 inches of SNOW that weekend.  It was like they didn’t want us to come home and believe me GI Joe kind of had to DRAG me off of the beach kicking and screaming.  But before we left we took some pictures and some accidentally inappropriate ones.

My apologies to any beachgoers @ Daytona that day that I may or may not have flashed.  Also, my family is weird.   

Then we started the journey home by way of Tennessee because duh.  Why would I pass up another opportunity to see these faces?  So what if we’d just seen them the weekend before on our way down to Florida?  There’s no such thing as too much time with these cuties.

Then we decided to leave earlier than planned from there so as to beat the storm home.  We hadn’t anticipated driving straight through til we got home but that’s what we ended up doing.  We pulled in our driveway at 4:00 a.m. on Sunday morning only to discover that we were locked out of our own house.  I never carry a housekey with me and our neighborboy that had been taking care of the farm and the dogs while we were gone had GI Joe’s keys.  So there we were just wanting to crawl in our beds and we couldn’t even get in.  We tried calling and texting the neighbor kid to get our key back but of course he didn’t answer because again, 4:00 IN THE A.M.  GI Joe tried breaking in without actually breaking anything and couldn’t so finally we resorted to calling his mom who I was sure I had given a key to at some point.  She answered right away, probably with her heart in her throat because usually a call at that time of night is bad news, and we promptly drove down the road and retrieved a key.  And we all fell happily into our beds and proceeded to sleep til mid morning.  The rest of the day is kind of a blur.

But the next day I did venture out to take Dakota to a doctor’s appointment where I accidentally walked into some stranger’s exam room when I thought I was exiting the office.  So that was awkward.  Oh and then THIS happened.

I ran out of gas…again….right in front of the gas station. 

GI Joe had me on speaker phone as it was happening so his whole office heard the whole sordid thing where I was saying things like, “NO NOOOOOOO JUST A LITTLE BIT FURTHER!  GOOOOOOOO GO! “ trying to urge my PMobile just a few more feet to the pump.  As it turns out the employees at Casey’s took pity on me and lent me a gas can that I filled and then walked the (very) short distance back to my truck and put it in.  then I was able to drive it to the pump and fill it up.  Except by fill it up I mean put $45.00 aka half a tank in because who wants to stand there for 15 minutes so it can fill all the way up.?  BORING. 

Then I wore my Easter dress backwards to church on Sunday.  So there’s that.

After those kinds of days, sometimes you just need a treat like this. 


Which is really the ONLY part of an Oreo…that I’ll eat anyway.  Just ask my family.  They love finding just the cookie part (yuck it doesn’t even taste like chocolate!)  left in the package of Oreos after I’ve scraped the filling out with a knife and eaten it.  The only good part I tell you.  Imagine my delight when I saw this recipe.   I was a bit skeptical because how could it taste JUST LIKE OREO FILLING as she claimed?  But you guys, IT DOES.  And now that I’ve made this no less than 5 times for various events and functions since discovering it, I feel like one of life’s great mysteries has been solved.  Next up, making my own Twinkies.  I have the magic pan now let’s see if I can match the rest.

Here it is.  Make it.  Impress your friends, neighbors, coworkers, kids, the mailman.  Let them think that you actually scraped out the filling from 100 Oreos.  It’s fine. 

½ c. vegetable shortening as in Crisco as in that weird white stuff
½ t. vanilla
1 t. sugar
3 ½ c. powdered sugar
3 T. hot water.

Mix all ingredients with mixer for 2 minutes.  Store in an airtight container for a week, doesn’t even have to be put in the fridge.  Dip mini Oreos, pretzels, animal crackers, chocolate chip cookies, your spoon, and ENJOY.  And don’t worry about the Crisco content in here, all good things come from Crisco, haven’t you watched The Help?

Have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Finale

I made it!  February, my least favorite month of the year is OVER.  And you know what?  As much as I dread it, despise it, and generally it went straight from to March, this February wasn't so bad.  Since I've been SUCH a fabulous blogger this month (not) how about a recap?  Get comfortable you could be here awhile. 

Feb 1-the #1 reason February is not my favorite and also the #1 reason February is not so bad.  This marked the 14th anniversary (the word anniversary seems so wrong but i'm not sure what else to call it) unexpected and tragic death.  She died upon impact in a car accident on Monday morning, February 1st, 1999 aka WORST. DAY. OF. MY. LIFE. Some years it doesn't phase me too much and some years it completely knocks the wind out of me and I have to force myself to get out of bed in the morning.  Luckily, I have a very good reason to get out of bed on 2/1 because Friday, February 1st 2002 was one of the BEST days of my life.  The day my spunky, handsome, witty, amazing Blade was born.  I am still amazed how that worked out.  Anyway, this year it fell on a Friday so I decided to take the day off and spend the day doing awesome things so as not to be sitting in my quiet office at work dwelling on it.  I kicked my day o' fun off with breakfast with one of my favorite feel good people, my girl Jessie.  We've been each other's sounding board through some really difficult things over the years but we can always ALWAYS make each other laugh and have a good time.  It had to be Jessie on this day.  :)   Breakfast did not disappoint and neither did the little shopping trip we made to the resale shop next door.  Perfect fitting $78 "Silver" jeans with the tags still on them for $4.00?!?  YES, please.  I like to think that was a little gift from heaven from my mama.  She always loved a bargain.  Once Jessie and I said our goodbyes I went to town and did a little more shopping...for shoes...(it's what my mom would've wanted, I assure you) I went home to prepare for the big event of the day..."Llama Show and Tell".  Ryder had gotten a "pet pass" from his teacher for good behavior early in January and immediately decided he didn't want to bring a boring ol' dog or cat, NOOOOOO, he insisted on bringing Boise the Llama.  So I emailed his teacher and we got it scheduled for 2/1 since I was going to be off work that day anyway.  At first I was going to load Boise and take him to the school by himself but THANKFULLY, FORTUNATELY, PRAISE JESUS, that morning it worked out that GI Joe could come home early to help.  When I pulled in the driveway I found GI Joe and Boise walking around the front yard.  No lead rope or anything just strolling.  He was trying to get Boise to just walk on in the horse trailer that we had brought up to the driveway but as soon as Boise would get close to it he'd turn and go the other direction.  We don't often take him on daytrips you see, so it was kinda scary for him.  We eventually got the lead rope and halter on him and tried to "lead" aka pull on the lead rope with all our might to get him into the horse trailer.  GI JOe got in the horse trailer and was pulling him in and I was behind Boise on the outside of the horse trailer trying to push him in.  Picture that in your head.  Yeah, it looked just like that, probably funnier.  Where's Candid Camera when you need them?  We eventually got him loaded when I picked up his back hoof and put it up into the horse trailer and then leaned on his booty with all my might to keep him from stepping back down.  It was my cardio workout for the day.  So we got him loaded, filled a bucket with sweet feeds for the kids to feed him, got some hay for him, and headed down to the school llama filled horse trailer in tow.  Obviously, we weren't going to take him IN to the school but instead parked as close to the building as we could (right where the carpool lane is as soon as the bell rings) and waited for Ryder's class to come out to us.  We waited...and waited...and waited.  And nothing.  OH and it was COLD that day.  Finally I went inside to the administration office and asked the secretary to call the teacher to let her know "the llama is here".  She looked at me as you can imagine so I repeated myself and told her "it's fine, she's expecting me and my llama can you just let her know we're here and we're parked by the little gym?" If I didn't have a reputation as a crazy person before I do now!  Finally, the class came out to see the llama.  We kept Boise in the horse trailer, you know for safety and poop's sake, and just had the door open and the bar down so the kids could see him and pet him but he couldn't go anywhere.  Everything was going fine and good and the kids were having a blast petting a "REAL LIVE LLAMA!" and asking all kinds of llama questions that Ryder faked knowing the answer to, ex:  "Ryder, how much does he weigh?"  Ryder:  "Oh about 900 pounds" (umm not quite try 300).  UNTIL Boise decided he wanted OUT.  He reared up on 2 legs, all 900 300 pounds 12 feet 3 6 feet 5 inches of him and tried to jump over the bar of the horse trailer to be amongst or on top of, whatever..same diff, the crowd of 24 kids standing outside of it.  Chaos ensued.  Kids screaming, a teacher trying to calm the kids while hiding her terror, and a very helpful blonde who just stood there saying "ohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodness."  But have no fear, GI Joe was here and quickly wrestled Boise back into the horse trailer before any small children were trampled.  Can you even imagine if he'd gotten loose and been running around the parking lot when it was time for carpool pickup.  "Oh look there's a llama on the loose in the school parking lot.  What have the Koons done this time?!?"  Or the headline on the 5:00 news.  Here's photographic proof that it really was a successful llama show and tell. 
Also, only in a hicktown. 
Ryder says it was the BEST DAY OF SCHOOL EVER. Obviously.  The following week though an announcement was made that there would be no more pets allowed for show and tell.  Some say it's because of the wild llama that almost escaped and trampled a class of 4th graders but others say it's because of the dog that someone else brought in that pooped all over the lunch room.  My money's on the pooping dog. 

Another highlight of February besides Llama Show and Tell, was Bacon Fest.  GI Joe's dream come true.  We went with our friends (GI Joe's brofriend) John and Trisha and John's mom and stepdad.  And 4 hours later we left bacon drunk out of our minds.  Bacon drunk is where you are delirious from bacon consumption and can also basically feel your blood pressure rising and your arteries hardening.  It was delightful.  No seriously, it was so much fun and we ate SO. MUCH. BACON. and bacon related items such as Bacon Bourbon Maple Pecan Ice Cream and Bacon Cheese Rangoons and Bacon Guacamole.  We went on Saturday and it was Monday afternoon before I had an appetite at all.  GI Joe and John were like little kids on Christmas morning, it was adorable. 

And in honor of bacon..THIS.

Do you think it would be weird, wrong, inappropriate, etc to frame this and put it in my kitchen?  Good, me either. 

Then there was Valentine's Day when a gun. 

A pretty pink camo gun that shoots REAL bullets that could actually hurt something.  And by something I mean an oppossum or an intruder who was breaking in our house trying to steal my shoes or my NKOTB memorabilia when GI Joe is away at training or playing Army or whathaveyou.  I'm in love, this was one of the best presents he's ever given me.  I mean, nothing says romance and love like a pink camo gun amiright?  I may have already gone through 97 bullets (target practice, no shoe stealers or possums have been injured...yet) so I called Scheel's to ask when they would be getting more bullets for my gun because as you may or may not be aware ammo is in HIGH demand right now.  (If only my 15 year old self could see me now.) And that makes me mad because I'm practicing to be a sharpshooter over here.  I mean I was THIS close to a bullseye! 
I feel like such a bad mamajama being able to load, lock,  and shoot my very own pink gun.  What a rush.  As a sidenote:  said adrenaline rush could possibly lead to driving at excessive speeds (apparently 72 mph in a 55mph or was it 45mph?) down the highway afterwards therefore earning yourself not a sharpshooter badge but instead a $180 ticket that no amount of lipgloss can lessen.  Or so I've heard. 

Also in February we had a surprise party for my Grandpa's 90th birthday.  Which is nice and all but is surprising a 90 year old man with a weak heart a good idea?  Or feeding him 3 Musketeers cupcakes with a side of insulin?  No matter, it was a great time and so thankful he's still with us and relatively healthy...or he was..pre party. 

In other news, Dakota went to a dance...with a boy.  Except not really "with" a boy because they're in 7th grade and it's not like he drove to our house to pick her up, at that age it's more about hanging out with each other once your parents drop you off at the dance.  Except once at the dance the boy didn't actually talk to her..not even a little.  I guess that's to be expected when he asked her via email a few weeks prior and her response was "sure whatever."  Maybe that wasn't the level of enthusiasm he was seeking?  No matter that minor detail didn't seem to phase her at all, she still had fun with her friends and I got to dress her up and put makeup on her amidst her protests.  Although for weeks I thought the dance was on Saturday night so imagine my surprise when I walked in the door at 6:30 on Friday night and she asked me what time the dance started because apparently it was on FRIDAY NIGHT.  Ever wondered how Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood do those super fast costume/hair/makeup changes at their shows?  NOw I know.  And I'm happy to report I dropped her off at exactly 7:08.  Not too shabby. 

I could go on and on because overall February actually turned out to be a pretty fantastic month. 

Have a great weekend!!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Monday Moose Mischief

I've mentioned before that our dog Moose is basically a perfect dog (gentle, sweet, housebroken as in can go 15 hours without an accident in the house!, patient, etc) except for his insatiable appetite and penchant for sweets (hello entire German chocolate cake).  We try to keep our countertops and table clear of any temptation when we leave the house.  Not because we're worried about his digestive system, nope that has proven to be made of steel, but moreso when we have food and treats and such WE prefer to eat them instead of you know, our 100 pound Lab enjoying them all.  We do have fruit and a cookie jar with a lid on our island because that's always been a safe zone.  Mainly because in Moose's old age (all of 7) it's way too much work for him to try to stand up on his hind legs and try to reach the middle of the island.

A few months back someone forwarded me a hilarious email with "dog shaming" where dogs were pictured with signs in front of whatever damage or mischief they had gotten into.  As luck would have it that very night Moose got into a little mischief of his own.  So I shamed him for all of facebook to see. 
 I warned him then that any further indiscretions on his part would result in this punishment.  GI Joe has given each of our dogs "voices"  (next time you see GI Joe you should totally ask him to do our dogs' voices for you it's HILARIOUS) and Moose has an Eeyore voice and I imagine that in his Eeyore voice Moose said, "Ohhhhh OOOOOKKKKKK." 

But then today we came home from church and discovered that he'd helped himself to a full, unopened bag of Hershey kisses that were in a decorative bin in the middle of our kitchen island.  So as promised I shamed him again. 

"I ate an entire bag of Hershey's Kisses.  Hey, that's what they get for not giving me a Valentine!" 

He DOES look kind of ashamed but I think it's more because he's ashamed he left evidence and got caught!  He's getting lazy in his old age and left a few tiny remnants and the bag.  In his prime he would've destroyed aka eaten the bag AND the wrappers so we wouldn't have any proof.  Yes, he ate an entire bag of Hershey kisses AND all but 3 of their foil wrappers.  And no, he hasn't had any digestive troubles because of it.  Stomach of steel I tell you. 

I never should've insisted on a CHOCOLATE lab. 

Happy Monday!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day Koons Zoo Style

This year, since we’re nearing the end of our elementary career (waaaaa!) and subsequent Valentine’s Day parties, I decided the kids needed to kick the quality of our Valentines giving up a notch.   Every other year, we’ve shopped in the Valentine’s aisle at Target or Wal Mart (don’t judge me) until they picked out the “perfect’ Valentine’s (usually just a few days before, I’m keeping it real here) and sometimes if I were lucky they would be the ones with candy already attached ie:  Fun Dips Valentines..score!  But this year, we decided to do them up Koons Zoo style.  I mean after all, we are surrounded by perfect photo props.  So I took my camera and got to work.  Watch and learn my friends.  This is how we do it.  And by "it" I mean get ourselves on the "crazy parent watch list."  No matter, I'm sure we were already there.  

It had to be his pug.  This one could not have been easier.  Also, ugliest/cutest dog ever?  I think yes. 

Given that he just took this guy for show and tell, it was only fitting that his Valentine feature Boise the Llama.  As it turns out though, not many lovey dovey Valentiney (totally a word) words rhyme with llama so we had to get creative.  This one cracks me up.  Can you imagine all the lockers that will have this mug taped to the inside of them after tomorrow?  He's so photogenic.  And most likely the only llama ever to be featured on a Valentine's Day card.   

While they don't have class parties anymore in 7th grade, Dakota wanted to hand some out to her close friends.  We made up little goody bags full of muddy buddies puppy kitty chow to go with these.  If you know Dakota in real life then you know these could not be more appropriate.  Homegirl has serious crazy cat lady tendencies.  Her friends are going to get a kick out of these for sure. 

So there you have it, our homegrown Valentines.  I took the photos and these are not paid animal actors these are actual members of the Koons Zoo.  If you would like to borrow a llama or a pug so you can do similar Valentines next year you just let me know and for the low low price of $19.99 ONE MILLLLLLLLLION DOLLARS I just may let you.  :)

Happy Valentine's Day!  I hope your day is filled with pugs, kisses, llamas, and cats or just chocolate and flowers if that's more your style.  Personally, I'm hoping THIS is gonna be the year I wake up to find a zebra in the barnyard with a big hot pink bow around it's neck.  A girl can dream right?  ;) 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Catch Up Not to be Confused with Ketchup

Not to be confused with I’m still a dork!

So let’s pretend we’re at my favorite Mexican restaurant sharing chips and salsa, and queso because calories don’t count when you’re with friends (duh), and catching up because it’s been ages since we’ve “talked”.  Rest assured that in real life I’m not near this one sided and self absorbed.  I would actually let you talk too, I promise!

Just some high points from the past few weeks:

*I’m proud to announce that GI Joe and I watched season 1 and 2 of “Downton Abbey” just in time for this season 3 to start.  This feels like a huge marital  accomplishment because it takes perseverance and commitment to watch an entire television series.  He’s watched many a series via Netflix usually ones that involve gladiators and/or presidents and/or aliens but we’ve never watched one together (beginning of a series to the end of a series or current).  This was a first for us.  It helped that “Downton Abbey” is completely amazing and it only took a few episodes before we were both hopelessly addicted.  This is saying a lot since typically I don’t like British shows because I feel like they all sound so snooty and I miss half of what they’re saying because of their accents.  Then there’s the whole “olden days” factor.  Not a huge fan of that either because it’s hard for me to relate to a life with no flat iron.  But for some reason Downton Abbey has proven me wrong and I am completely smitten with it.   Everything about it is perfect from the fascinating storyline to the castle that is total eyecandy to the cast of characters that I find myself wondering about throughout the week AS IF THEY ARE REAL PEOPLE.  As it turns out sarcastic one liners said in a serious British accent from very unsuspecting characters are kind of hilarious.  Go here and read this , it’s like she’s in my head.  And GI Joe and I asking each other constantly  “have you done something jolly with your hair?” will never get old.   I love, love, LOVE this show and I never thought I would.   Confession: when I kept reading and hearing about it for the past 2 years, I thought it was pronounced Downtown Abbey (it’s not, it’s DownTON pronounced Downten) AND I thought it was about some girl named Abbey living it up in downtown London or some other big city across the pond (it’s not).  Yeah, I’m a dork.   Oh and P.S. while there were no flat irons in the 1920’s, I did see a curling iron in season 2 and my heart leapt with joy.  I could talk about this show for hours and want everyone I know to watch it so we can talk about it together!  So get on the Downton Train ASAP…not to be confused with the DOWNTOWN Train.

*My camera died last week during the boys’ last basketball games of the season and my children rejoiced.  Apparently, the average lifespan for that model is 4 years, I’ve had it for 3 ½ years but given the amount of pictures I’ve taken with it, millions I tell you MILLIONS, that’s probably more like 83 years in camera time. It has served me well so it was a sad day.  But this past weekend, knowing I would positively die (hello Marcia Brady) without a camera for one more second, GI Joe and I went shopping for a new one.  And somehow I ended up with a “big girl” camera that does fancy stuff and takes pictures that look professional.  I am so excited. I’ve been reading about and researching DSLRs forever and finally took the plunge.   I spent hours yesterday reading the manual (What?  Who am I?  That’s not how I roll!) and took  8378 pictures of Moose and Dexter while they were napping because they were excellent practice subjects.  They didn’t complain once about the number of pictures I was taking!  Here’s my favorite of Dexter.  Blade is going to use this as his Valentine’s cards for his class, with a little bag of Hershey Kisses…”Pugs and Kisses.”  Ha ha. We can’t help ourselves.

*Car key drama…again.  If you’re married to me, you know that pretty much every time I leave the house I go thru this “I can’t find my keys” routine.  It’s not annoying at all.  Usually they’re at the bottom of my dimly lit purse but sometimes they are in random places or lost forever (I blame the children).  Saturday morning the kids and I were trying to go to town but I couldn’t find my keys.   I spent about 30 minutes looking for them all over the house, my purse, the yard, everywhere, and was sure they had suffered the same fate as the set of keys I lost ON MY WAY TO THE CAR IN COSTCO PARKING LOT just a few short months ago…yes, that happened, I have no idea.  The good news is they weren’t lost forever!  The bad news is I found them in the washing machine with only 12 minutes left on the cycle.  Oops.  My key fob is a little slow on the unlock these days.  Do you think the old rice trick will work on key fobs like it does on cell phones?  It’s worth a shot. 

*Raise your hand if you think the autocorrect feature on phones is the devil’s handiwork?  *raises BOTH hands*.  Friday night I was responding to a text from a Suck It Up Cupcakes customer, a person whom I’ve never met and who has never ordered from me before.  It’s kind of a blur due to the post traumatic stress syndrome, but all I remember is looking at the message after I hit send and seeing “C^CKSURE CUPCAKES”.  No, I’m not doing specialty naughty cupcakes for bachelorette parties that was supposed to say CHOCOLATE COCONUT CUPCAKES.  WTHeck phone?  I have so many questions! Why would my phone think that was an acceptable “correction” for chocolate coconut?  And where on earth did that word come from?  It’s not like it’s a commonly used word in my texting, I assure you it’s NOT, is it EVEN a real word?  I don’t think so.  I was so mortified.  I immediately text again and said *chocolate coconut cupcakes*.   The person didn’t respond, so I think it’s safe to say we’re done here.  The cupcake business was fun while it lasted but on the bright side, I’ll just take my business cards to the adult bookstores, I’m sure I’ll drum up some business there with my, ahem, “C*CKSURE CUPCAKES” Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes.  My dad the pastor is SO proud right now.  J  Dad, I swear it’s AUTOCORRECT’S fault, NOT MINE!

*My 5 year old nephew Micah gave me this mug for Christmas that he made and specifically told the lady at the pottery shop what to write on it. 

It makes me SO happy and my coffee tastes infinitely better out of it.  Every time I take a sip I can just hear his sweet little voice saying, “Howwy” because that’s how he’s always said it.  I had high hopes that on his graduation day he would introduce me to his friends and teachers saying, “And this is my FAVORITE aunt Howwy.”  What?  I don’t see a problem with that.  But I got some bad news today.  My sister tells me that Micah has been saying Holly all weekend, not HOWWY but Holly.  I’m going to the courthouse tomorrow to officially change my name to Howwy so that he is forced to say it that way for all eternity.  The rest of you can still call me Holly or Prairie Princess, or Her Ladyship (see: Downton Abbey), whichever. 
I’d be remiss if I didn’t show you the mug he gave GI Joe for Christmas too. 
He kind of thinks his Uncle GI Joe is the coolest.  The feeling is mutual.
 "When I grow up I want to be a soldier just like you"

*This Friday I took the day off in preparation of the perfect storm…..Blade’s birthday, the 14th anniversary of when my mom died, and I have to take a llama to school for show and tell.  Yes, you read that right.  Pray for me, mostly because of the llama who knows no personal space boundaries.  And with 20 4th graders, that should be SUPER fun!

Have a great week!  I'll report back on the llama show and tell, I'm sure it will be blog worthy. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Food Friday

The first 10 days of 2013 have been SUPER fun at the Koons Zoo.  We’ve had mono, stomach flu, pneumonia, nasty colds & a dead car battery.  YAY!  *Please note the extreme sarcasm.  We have spent more time at home in our PJ’s in these 10 days than we have probably in all of 2012.  I’ve also watched way too many episodes of Property Brothers and House Hunters because for my 10 year old son, nothing cures what ails you like those 2 shows.  He then takes notes and presents me with floor plan & design proposals for his room. Is he weird or what?  Weird but awesome.  All 3 kids returned to school yesterday, which was the first time since before Christmas break, so we just *might* be on the road to returning to normalcy.  Ha ha yeah right, it’s still the Koons Zoo after all. 

Personally, I’ve been making lots of soups, snake eyes  (each one of my kids lists these as one of their top 5 favorite foods? They are pretty delicious) and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Funny story about me and grilled cheese.  When I was growing up the only way I remember my mom making grilled cheese is buttering both sides of the bread, slapping some Velveeta in the middle, and putting them on a baking sheet in the oven directly under the broiler.  Then she’d leave the oven door a crack and broil them to melty perfection.  That is the ONLY way I knew so of course when it came time for me to carry on the grilled cheese making tradition that’s how I did it.  And I burned them to blackened bliss…every.single.time.  And since my kids could talk they remind me of that fact, that no matter what kind of awesome, gourmet meal I prepare or what gorgeous cupcake I bake, that I fail at grilled cheese.  And to them grilled cheese trumps well, pretty much everything.  For many years GI Joe became the grilled cheese maker in the house and the kids would rub it in that “daddy makes grilled cheese better than mommy does” but between you and me, he totally cheats when he makes them.  He toasts the bread in the toaster, then puts the cheese on and puts the whole thing in the microwave just long enough to melt the cheese.  Umm, NO.  One year for Christmas I got a wafflemaker/sandwich maker and I thought I was supersmart when I finally made them the perfect grilled cheese until they busted me.  “You have to use a machine to make grilled cheese?!? Tee hee ha ha ha that’s cheating,” they would taunt. 

Until one day when I was making their beloved snake eyes, it occurred to me, “why not make grilled cheese this way too?  In the skillet with butter…duh.”  So last week when the patients aka kids requested grilled cheese but “don’t use the machine and can Daddy just make them?” I assured them that I had a plan and that I would make their grilled cheese and it would be the best grilled cheese they’d ever had.  They were doubtful.

But like Dora the Explorer, I DID IT, I DID IT!!!

I paraded that first, browned to golden glory, with perfectly melted cheese oozing out of it, sandwich around the house showing each one of them, “LOOK I did it, NO MACHINE!!!”

Yes, a perfect grilled cheese sandwich is parade worthy. 

Ryder took a bite and declared it the best grilled cheese in all the land so I’ll take that as a win.  The whole family was so proud, it was a touching scene.  OK maybe not but I was pretty darn proud of myself.  Now to just master my other nemesis, the pie crust. 

And that big, long grilled cheese story?  It has nothing to do with the Food Friday recipe today.  So there’s that. 

But before I earned the culinary respect of my critics children by mastering the grilled cheese, I wowed them with this chicken.  Which in my house, is unheard of, mainly because it’s chicken and they seem to think we eat WAY TOO MUCH CHICKEN (not possible).   When I made this, every single kid and husband (to clarify there’s just one of those) asked for seconds which also never happens.  Now that everyone in the house has an appetite for solid foods again, this is on the menu for next week.  I can’t wait.  Sometimes it’s the simplest things that are the most delicious.  Ex:  this chicken, oh and snake eyes.

Crispy Cheddar Chicken Tenders (
By Plain Chicken
Crispy Cheddar Chicken Tenders

2 lbs chicken breasts, tender size
1/2 sleeve Club crackers (or Ritz)
1 1/2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp Ranch dressing mix
dash pepper

2 eggs
2 Tbsp milk

1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of chicken soup (I used Healthy Request)
2 Tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried parsley

Preheat oven to 400.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine crackers, cheese, Ranch mix and pepper.  Pulse until you have fine crumbs.  Pour into shallow bowl.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together 2 eggs and 2 Tbsp milk.

Dip chicken tenders into egg mixture and then coat in cracker crumbs.  Place chicken on foil lined baking pan.  Repeat with remaining chicken tenders.

Bake for 12-15 minutes.  (PP note:  I had to cook mine a little longer to get it cooked all the way through, maybe my breasts were bigger?  Ahahahaha, hi I’m a 15 year old boy.)

While chicken bakes, whisk together soup, butter, sour cream, milk, pepper and parsley.  Bring to a boil and simmer until chicken is done.  Spoon sauce over baked chicken. Do not skip the sauce it makes the chicken.
Have a great weekend!!!