About Me

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I am a very lucky woman with a husband and son who are smart, witty and entertaining. Our son, B, attended public school for two years, and then we embarked on a new adventure in the Fall of 2010 - homeschooling. We don't have all the answers, but we know B and this has been the best thing for him. I blog to preserve our stories and our memories, share recipes, vent and ramble on about our crazy, yet blessed, life. Would you care to follow along?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

DIY Star Wars Death Star Birthday Cake

Last month, I blogged about the Star Wars Jedi Training Academy Birthday Party I threw for my son 3 years ago.  Here is the tutorial on how I made the Death Star Cake.

I used the Wilton Ball Cake Pan. Made half Chocolate Fudge Cake and half White Cake for the Light and Dark Sides of The Force.

The chocolate side was heavier than the white side so I put that on the bottom. Shaved a little off so it would not roll. Thin layer of icing so top layer would stick.

Placed the white cake half on top and the ball is complete.

I used the bottom of a paper cut to outline the circle where the laser comes out of the Death Star.

This little serated knife from our pumpkin decorating kit cut out the laser hole at an angle.

Here is the cone-shaped hole cut out.

I used my large pastry bag and icing tip to cover the cake.

Squeezed the icing on and then used a spatula to smooth it out.

Here it is all smooth.

I used dental floss to put a line around the middle and then filled that line in with black gel. Used the same gel for circles in the hole. I didn't like the black circles and suggest making them with gray, instead.

I used gray icing to decorate rest of the Death Star and used green toothpicks to simulate the laser coming out.

Meatball-Stuffed Garlic Rolls


I recently joined Pinterest.  Wow!  That site, when it is up and firing on all cylinders, is fabulous!  Honestly, I just joined to see if I could get some more traffic to my blog, but I will get way more out of Pinterest than others will get out of my blog.  Well, while on Pinterest, I found this recipe for Meatball Bubble Biscuits on the blog Kathie Cooks.  Kathie's picture looked so good, the hubs requested that I make it for dinner.

We have done a lot this weekend - yardwork, electrical/lighting work, errands, visiting family - that by the time we got home at 2pm today, I really did not feel like going back out to the store for the ingredients I did not have for the Meatball Bubble Biscuits.  But, no matter how tired he is, if I want something the hubs will go out for me.  So off I went.  And man was I rewarded when I got home!  He emptied and reloaded the dishwasher and scrubbed the stovetop for me.  Last night while I was in the kitchen and the hubs and B were in the family room, I glared at that dirty stovetop.  I am so tired of cleaning it all the time only to get dirty again the next time I cook.  So I grumbled at it, "I wish, just once, someone else would clean you."  Although he did not let on last night, the hubs had heard me and set to scrubbing that thing as soon as I headed out to the store.  I love that man!

As usual, I did not follow the recipe to a "T", but made my own adjustments.  Kathie's recipe calls for pre-packaged, frozen meatballs and sliced cheese sticks.  I made my own meatballs using The Perfect Italian Meatballs recipe from Chow Ciao with Fabio.  This was the 2nd time I made Fabio's meatballs and I will never make meatballs any other way, again.  Although, I also tweeked his recipe.

The Perfect Italian Meatballs recipe calls for raw shallots.  I only like raw onions added to 2 things: red onion on a salad and red onion on a good Italian hoagie.  I don't even want onions on my pizza unless they have been caramelized first!  Other than that, I generally saute all members of the onion family before adding them to food.  So, I sauteed the shallots and garlic before adding them to the meatball recipe.

After wrapping my meatballs in the dough (no cheese sticks in my rolls b/c I have ricotta and parmesan inside my meatballs) and placing them in my 8"x8" square pan, I brushed the tops with melted butter (something Kathie does not do in her recipe) before sprinkling on Italian seasoning and garlic powder.

The kitchen smelled good and these babies were scarffed up quickly.  All 3 of us loved them.  I made a big batch of meatballs and froze the rest, so I am sure I will be making these again.  I think they'd be great for a crowd!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Tis the season to be jolly, not jerky."

B received a DVD in his recent LEGO Club magazine.  There are some really cool segments on it that show behind the scenes at LEGO factories and the new LEGOLAND in Florida.  Most of it is LEGO short films and one of them is by Spongebob Squarepants.  Now, we don't watch Spongebob in our house, much to the protests of my son.  I don't care for the show nor the examples that the characters set for my child.  However, he does see it if he's at a house where they allow it to be shown.  But I happen to love the Spongebob song on this DVD and had to share it with you.  I think we all need to heed the wise words of Mr. Squarepants.  Enjoy -  "Don't Be a Jerk, It's Christmas"

Random Things

"Paid" was one of B's words in October involving the rule of 2 vowels in a single sylable word usually have the long sound.  Anytime I said "paid" I couldn't help but break into song with "Just Got Paid", the N'SYNC version.  Ben watched me in awe b/c I know all the words and when I was done he said, "You're cool."  MY SON THINKS I'M COOL.

He cannot pronounce the Czech Republic correctly.  He says "Chess Republic" and I am trying very hard to be patient.  So, I told him to call it Check-Mate Republic in order to get the 1st word correct and then we will drop the mate and work on the spelling.

B says to me: "Spell How.  Add an I at the end and then a damn L.  Guess what you have?  Howie Damnel!  It's Howie Mandell!"  Uhm, no.  It's not.

He is now recognizing when he writes his numbers backwards and is correcting them immediately without me saying a thing.  :o)

I want B to work independently on certain things while I do something else.  He was writing a sentence and I got up to do something for 90 seconds.  I came back and he had not written a single letter since I'd been gone.  I asked if he was still thinking about what the rest of his sentence was going to be.  "No," he said, "I know what I'm going to write.  I was just waiting for you to return."  He wouldn't write it w/o me there.  *sigh*

The following have nothing to do with homeschooling and are rants of my opinion:

If the reason for your divorce is your infidelity, I don't think you should keep your ex-husband's last name.  Go back to your maiden name.  I get that it's a pain to change your name back, but it's your fault it has to be done.  Keeping the name disrespects not only your ex-husband but also his new wife.

If the man breaks off the engagement, the woman has a right to keep the engagement ring if she chooses.  However, if the woman breaks off the engagement, and the man bought her the ring, she should return that ring.

I feel better haven gotten those 2 things off my chest!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Perfect Italian Meatballs

Have you seen the video of Fabio's Chow Ciao Perfect Italian Meatballs circulating around the internet this past week?  I did and I decided to try his recipe for dinner tonight since I have not been satisfied with any other meatball recipe I've made so far.  It is FA-BOO!  I have never made a more moist meatball than this!  And they were so flavorful!

I served it over farfalle pasta with The Bread on the side.  I took several pictures of my plate but they looked like crap since my camera is on it's last leg and none of the pix are worthy of being posted.  Sorry.  :o(  I have "new camera" and "light box" on my Christmas list b/c my camera has been ruined from the salt and sand at the beach the last 2 years.

Regardless of the camera used, my pictures could not look better than Fabio's plated meatballs at the end of his tutorial video.  So, just go watch his video and make the meatballs if you happen to be unsatisfied, as I was, with your current recipe.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Well, *that* explains it."

The hubs sold his Bowflex this week.  His work has a Craigslist-like site where you can post things for sale or giveaway, and someone at his large company, that he had never met before, bought it.  Me, the hubs, B and my brother (who was over for a LEGO playdate with his favorite, albeit only, nephew) delivered the Bowflex this afternoon to the home of the buyer and his fiancée.  After carrying all the pieces into the house and talking with the buying couple, my brother, B and I came home and left the hubs there to help the new Bowflex owner put it together.


When the hubs came home an hour later, he told me that the couple was quite impressed with B.  They said that B was very mature and communicated with adults very well.  They were surprised he was only 9 years old.  The hubs was very appreciative of the compliment and told them that we homeschool B.  The buyers both said, "Well, that explains it."

I love it when others see the great kid I love and he makes us so proud!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mrs. Schlumpadump

My usually schlubby self - ponytail, no makeup. The ponytail was the main reason I cut all my hair off - why keep it long if I put it up everyday? I hate the feel of hair on my face.  I think I have tactile sensory issues like B.
A few days ago my friend, The Persian Homeschooling Mom, wrote this blog post that touched a nerve with me.  Actually, her 7th and 8th paragraphs did.  I'm one of the "shlubs" she's talking about.  And she's right.  I don't dress up nor fix myself up regularly like I did when I was single.


When I was single, I was living at home.  I had to pay my parents rent, but I was working.  I had no car loan, no debt and no one else to support.  My money was mine to save and to spend.  I did spend some on clothes, but only work clothes b/c my employers had dress codes.  If it were up to me, I'd have been in jeans and sweatshirts all the time!  I was always like that.  I was not a "girly-girl" and I have never had any fashion sense.  My mom was not a "girly-girl" and she had no fashion sense, either, so I had no one to teach me.  Plus, from 1st grade all the way through college, I wore a uniform to school! The only non-uniform clothes I owned were PJs, jeans and sweat.


In 1993, I started a new job and gained a wonderful friend in a co-worker.  She was beautiful, fashionable and new how to stretch a dollar.  She took me under her wing, shared her wardrobe with me and took me shopping at the "right" places.  I looked good.  I turned heads.  I married the sexiest man I had ever met.


Then I started moving up in the professional world and was no longer in the public eye.  I started wearing clothes that were more "conservative", more "comfortable".  I was never much of a partier and enjoyed reading more than going out and the hubs (being older) had gotten all of his "wildness" out of him before we met.  So without any place fancy or trendy to go, I didn't buy fancy or trendy clothes to wear.


And then I became a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom).  We went from 2 incomes supporting only 2 adults to 1 income supporting 2 adults, 1 baby and all his diapers, clothes, powders, lotions, toys, furniture, baby-proofing paraphernalia, etc.  Money was, as has been, tight, and I could not justify spending money on flashy/trendy clothes, especially when they were not what I was "comfortable" in.


But The Persian Homeschooling Mom gave me a wake-up call and reminded me that just because I want to be comfortable and don't have a club to go to, does not mean I need to look older, bigger, sloppier or frumpier than I really am!  There doesn't need to be a particular place/function/person to dress up or dress better for - I am worth dressing better for!  Target does not have a dress code; I can wear whatever the hell I want in there!  Whatever makes me feel good, feel proud; whatever makes my head turn when I walk past a mirror.


I recently cut my hair off.  I'm talking Jamie Lee Curtis short.  My hair is naturally curly and when it's long, it's big and bushy.  So big and bushy, that you'd never know if I was wearing earrings, so I never did.  But now that the hair is gone, I feel I need the accessory of earrings around my face since the accessory of all that hair is no longer there.  After running errands the 1st half of today, we were going to meet some friends out.  I decided to change my clothes since we would be outside and the temps are typical Fallish.  After changing my clothes, more of my neck was exposed and it looked plain, so I decided to put on a necklace.  I tried on 2 before deciding on one.  Then I put on matching earrings.  Both necklaces bothered me b/c they were on my skin and I am not used to wearing any jewelry.  But I made myself keep the necklace on.


As I looked at myself in the mirror I thought, "You look ridiculous!  You are going to watch a youth baseball game, not a play!  People are going to look at you and think you are pretentious for wearing this to a ball park!"  And then I thought of The Persian Homeschooling Mom, who decided to dress herself down for her book club meeting based on what she, rightfully, believed the other attendees would be wearing.  And I remembered the comment that I actually put on her post, admonishing her for changing what she wanted to wear out of fear of standing out too much.  So, I left the jewelry on and went to the ballpark.  


I have no idea if anybody looked at my jewelry or made any judgements of me because of it.  I wasn't self-conscious, because I forgot about it the moment I walked out the door.  I was just me - comfortable and relaxed me.  Only I looked a scoonch more put together because I took the time to accessorize.  And I liked it!  I took the advice I gave to my friend: "Have you ever heard the phrase, "Be the change you want in this world"? So dress to the 9s now, especially when getting together with us homeschooling "shlubs". Don't change or dress yourself down for us. Set the bar high for us and maybe we will rise. If we want to."  I raised the bar for myself today and was proud.  I need to take the time and do that for myself more often.  Thank you, friend, for helping me to see that!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Little Poet

B was sitting on his stability ball in front of a window this morning, bouncing, staring out and talking to himself while I did some house work.  After about a half an hour he said, "Mama, I wrote a song.  Do you want to hear it?" "Yes!" I answered.  He did not sing his song; he spoke it.  I would call it a poem, but he insists that it is a song:

Migration, migration.
Like a Winter vacation.
You'll find lots of food
To avoid starvation.
But when you go on
This big migration,
Just never forget -
It's God Creation.
And that's migration!

Milwaukee Pork Stew

I love this recipe.  It's so flavorful, filling and has a hint of sweetness.  I made it once for the hubs, long before B was born, and he did not like it.  (I cut this recipe out of a Betty Crocker recipe book that I bought at the checkout stand in the '90s.)  The hubs was not a soup man back then.  The past couple of years I have made more soups and stews and he is liking them during the Fall and Winter.  So if I had made this for dinner for all of us, he may have finally liked it.  But I didn't give him the chance.  I didn't want to set myself up for one of those dinners that I think is great only to hear complaints from both members of my peanut gallery and then have them request something else.  So I made them Baked Potato and Sausage Soup and kept the Milwaukee Pork Stew to myself.  (Although, if you look at the pictures of both dinners, the pork looks more like a "soup" and the potato and sausage looks more like a "stew".)  I halved the recipe, which is at the bottom of this post.

I cut a big, sweet onion into rings and then quartered them.

Cubed 2, thick-cut pork chops b/c that is what I had on hand, but you can use a pork roast, as the recipe calls for.  I mixed the flour with some salt and pepper and tossed the pork pieces in  the flour mixture to coat.

Browned the pork pieces on all sides in a medium-high heat dutch oven.

Then I added my onions, a diced shallot I wanted to use up and garlic.

Stirred occasionally and cooked until the onions softened. I had to give you a shot with the crusty bits on the bottom of the pan - my favorite part of cooking!  That's where all the flavor is!

I added the broth (beef b/c I had no chicken), beer, bay leaf, brown sugar and red wine vinegar.  I had no parsley so it was left out.  I had no caraway seed so I substituted celery salt.  Brought the pot to a boil, scraped up all the crunchies from the bottom of the pan, reduced the heat and cooked for 1 hr 15 minutes.

1/3 cup flour 
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 lbs pork boneless sirloin or shoulder, cubed 
2 tbsp vegetable oil 
4 large onions, sliced into rings and quartered 
1 garlic clove, minced 
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 
1 tsp caraway seed 
1 bay leaf 
14.5 oz can chicken broth 
12 oz bottle of beer 
1 tbsp packed brown sugar 
2 tbsp red wine vinegar 
Mix flour, salt and pepper. Coat cubed pork with flour mixture. Heat oil in dutch oven over med-high heat. Cook pork in oil until lightly browned. Stir in onions and garlic. Cook 5 minutes, stiring occasionally. Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat, cover and cook over med-low heat 1 to 1.25 hours, stirring occasionally, until pork is tender. Remove bay leaf. 8 servings.

Don't forget to serve with The Bread!

Baked Potato and Sausage Soup

I made this for the hubs and B's dinner on Halloween.  I was in the mood for Milwaukee Pork Stew and made that for myself.  This recipe is easy and quick and simple changes can make it gluten-free or dairy-free if you want.


2 baking potatoes, baked and cooled 
8oz smoked sausage, sliced and quartered
1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 a small onion, diced 
2 tbsp flour 
3 cups milk or chicken stock
3/4 cup frozen corn, rinse to thaw
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
Fresh ground pepper, salt and onion powder, to taste

Add butter to dutch oven and heat medium-high.  Cook sausage and onion in dutch oven until sausage browns and onions are soft. While they are cooking, cut cooled baked potatoes in half, scoop out flesh and mash with a fork. Save skins for an appetizer another night or just dice up potatoes with skins for this soup; I have done both. Once onions are cooked, sprinkle with flour, stir to coat for a few minutes to cook out the "floury" taste. Gradually add milk or stock, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Continue to stir until mixture thickens, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan (the best part!). Add potatoes, corn and cheese to mixture and stir until cheese melts and everything is heated through. Add pepper, salt, onion powder and/or whatever other spice to suit your taste.  Serve with The Bread.

  • You can use fresh sausage that is GF and or DF in lieu of the smoked.
  • You can skip the flour or use a GF alternative
  • Use your favorite cooking oil in lieu of butter
  • The cheese can be left out and it will taste just as good
  • When I am planning this dish ahead of time, I'll bake the potatoes in the oven with another night's dinner to save energy.  If I am making this last minute, I throw the potatoes in the microwave for 8 minutes.
  • I made this the other night with milk b/c I was out of chicken stock, but I usually make it with chicken stock.