Life is an adventure.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Does this clutter make my butt look fat?

Have you ever seen Peter Walsh on Oprah? I haven't watched a full season of Oprah in well over a year, but he used to be a semi-regular on her show. While I found him incredibly annoying he managed to charm the socks offa me! I love his accent and his beautiful, blue glasses. More than once he had the lady of the house storm off in a fit of rage saying, "Whatever!" under her breath. Several times I watched him back the homeowner into the corner of their kitchen while they were hyperventilating because he wanted them to throw away 12 of the 13 spatulas sitting in the drawer.

Peter Walsh wrote a book entitled "Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?". I really should pick up the book and actually read it. Everytime I try to organize my house I repeat that phrase to my husband and end it with...."yes it does!". I wish I had a dollar for everytime I have re-organized my house. Do you have any idea how many bins and baskets and whatnot I have to organize all of my stuff? Several!! And yet I keep buying more stuff. I don't quite understand why.
I am coming to realize that all of this stuff doesn't mean anything. It doesn't make me smarter, prettier, skinnier, more does, however, make my butt look fat. I find it very hard to concentrate knowing a tornado just blew through my basement. Knowing toys are here, there and everywhere makes it hard for me to breath. I use cleaning and organizing almost as an excuse to not play with the kids or even to just sit down and relax. I have to be cleaning and organizing. The only problem is, I never finish. I start and then things look worse than before and then I say forget it! Then I usually go shopping....but we don't need to go there just yet!
I'm having a rummage sale next Thursday. I have no choice. I have too much stuff. My husband and I are discussing building again and I refuse to move stuff from this house into storage into a new house, stuff that I haven't even put my hands on in more than a year. If it doesn't sell, it's going to Goodwill. I have several rooms totally organized and I'm really loving that. I have my bathroom linen closet totally neat and tidy. Everytime I open a drawer in my bathroom I smile. It's been a week now and it's still organized! I'm finally tackling the basement tonight. What a huge job!!!
I found this website the other day and it is full, I mean full of blogs from women who are neat freaks and super organizers and major meal planners!! Be careful though, reading it can be very addicting. The website is

Dutch Apple Pie a la MOPS

I took Hannah apple picking with the MOPS moms the other day. It was a beautiful day and we had a great turnout of moms. Now I have several pounds of apples to bake! I thought it would be fitting to post a recipe that I got at a MOPS meeting. We did this as a craft for one of the first meetings I attended here in Wisconsin. It was a great idea and the pie was de-lish.
The first thing you need to do is lay out a pie crust on the bottom of a pie plate. I made this crust myself. I was determined to make the entire pie from scratch. Whenever I look for a recipe I head straight to It has a very extensive database of recipes. Other posters can post photos of their version of the recipe as well as a review of the recipe. The best part of this site is that it has a function that allows you to type in ingredients and search the recipe database for recipe that only include those specific ingredients. There have been a few recipes I remember making years ago but couldn't remember the name or the specifics but I did remember a few of the key ingredients. I would just go to the website, type in those ingredients and find the recipe I was looking for! Try it, you will not be disappointed.

This crust recipe was very soft and did not require rolling. I was very leery of how it would turn out but It was very light and flaky. It's OK if you'd prefer using the frozen variety. Believe me, if I would've had some in my freezer I would definitely be using them for this!
You'll need around 6 apples for this pie. Peel, core and slice somewhat thinly. Add the apple slices to a large bag. Measure into the bag some flour, sugar and cinnamon. (See the recipe below for exact amounts.) Shake and make sure each and every apple slice is coated with the mixture. This is a great way to work out your aggressions. Speaking of anger and aggressions, make sure to attend next month's MOPS meeting. We'll be talking about anger and how to deal with it.

Pour the apples onto the crust. If the you're thinking you need to add some apples, go ahead. I won't judge you.
Then you need to combine butter, flour and brown sugar in another bag. This becomes the topping. Throw that other pie crust back into the freezer. Work the butter into the flour and brown sugar until it is crumbly.

Bake in the oven until done and enjoy! This is the simpliest most delicious dutch apple pie I have ever tasted. I like to throw it in the fridge for a day and eat it cold, but I'm weird. You do whatever floats your boat. Oh, and don't forget the vanilla ice cream!!!


2lbs. apples

1T. lemon juice

2T. flour

3/4 C. sugar

1t. cinnamon

Core apples and pare. Slice thin and put into large bowl with lemon juice. Combine flour, sugar and cinnamon. Toss lightly with apples. Put in pie shell.


2/3 C. flour

1/3 C. brown sugar

1/3 C. butter

Combine in a bag until crumbly.

Sprinkle on topping. Bake at 400 degrees 40-45 minutes.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Let me just say for the record, the Packers looked horrible tonight. And, let me add to that how pitiful it is that I watched the entire game even after I rented "What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas". And now I'm too tired to watch it, darnit! It's not so bad...I could be a Bears fan.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I finally started the daunting task of going through all of the boxes in my basement. There are several boxes that were packed up when I had to clean out my Grandpa's house and have not seen the light of day since. We're talking about making some changes to our living situation and I thought it was time to downsize some of the boxes.

I started with boxes that had "Jennifer's Grandpa's House" written on the outside of the box. If you've never cleaned out the house of someone who has just passed away I don't think you can really appreciate the need to declutter your house. Who needs twelve years of Christmas cards from random people? Nobody, that's who. My Grandma and Grandpa traveled alot and they held on to every single map and every pamphlet from every city they ever visited. For whatever reason, I felt like I should hold on to them. So they've moved from Iowa, to Illinois, to the first house in Wisconsin, to the second house in Wisconsin, to Texas and then back to Wisconsin. It's time to let them go. I also found several old pictures of my Mother's family and a scrapbook my Mom's Great, Great Grandma put together of their first trip to California. Very cool.

As I was going through all of this stuff, I had to decide what to keep and what to throw away. My Grandmother had all of the ribbon from the gifts she received at her baby shower for my Mother. She had all of the sympathy cards she received after my Mom passed away. She had about 30 pairs of earrings from the 80's still on their cards with the price tag intact. Papers, papers and more papers. I don't know what's worse, the fact that she held on to all of this stuff or the fact that I have moved it to not one, not two, but four different states five times! So, into the trash it all went.

As I was looking through my Mom's report cards from first grade and reading her accomplishments and finally flipping through her year books I realized my children have no clue who my mother was. They know she's in Heaven and they know I had a Mom at one time, but they don't know her. August 11th was the 20 year anniversary of her death. Most days it seems like only yesterday. Why haven't I spent more time telling my kids about their Grandma? I can't believe it's not something I thought about before today. I want my kids to know how great she was, how caring and honest and selfless she was. I want to know that when I'm gone and they are going through my things they recognize her in pictures. Last year we had a woman speak to us at MOPS about scrapbooking/preserving memories. I'm so sad that everyone on my Mom's side of the family is gone. I would love to sit down with someone and hear the story of her family.
I've had a lot of death in my life. My paternal Grandpa was the first, then my great-Grandma, my mom was next, my maternal Grandma, my first born son, my maternal Granpa, my uncle and most recently my ex-husband. In order to honor these people I'm going to try and do a weekly or bi-weekly post here about each of these people. It will be good for me to go back and dig up memories I most likely have forgotten. Even though I can't see any of these people today they will always be in my heart. It's important I never forget them and it's also very important that my children get to know them through my stories and memories.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Remember that roasted garlic from the other day? Mine is still in my fridge. I forgot all about it actually. I'm cleaning and organizing my house like a crazy person lately and totally forgot about the lovely garlic just sitting in a bath of EVOO. So tomorrow I will make hummus, if I remember. Just to get me in the mood I thought I'd post my recipe for hummus. I have searched high and low throughout the state of Wisconsin to find tahini paste to no avail. I have heard that traditional hummus has tahini paste. So because I'm Polish and because I can't seem to locate this tahini past stuff, this is the Polish hummus recipe. I love being Polish if for no other reason than to use it as an excuse for my shortcomings!

So, once you've roasted the garlic you're ready to go. I've also made this with roasted red peppers. It's equally as yummy, I just don't happen to have any red peppers at the moment. You will need a can of chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), the roasted garlic, EVOO, and kosher salt. You can also add a little lemon juice if you need, I usually omit it because I never have lemons.

Drain the can of beans and empty into a food processor.

Then add the garlic. I use a ton of garlic just to keep the vampires away.

Use as much as you'd like.

Next sprinkle in salt. How much you sprinkle in is totally up to you and your taste.

Put the top on your processor. Turn the food processor on and start to stream EVOO through the top. I don't have an exact amount here when it comes to the olive oil. What I do is run the food processor for a few minutes and check the consistency. If it's still thick and lumpy I run more EVOO into the chickpeas. I continue to do this until it looks right. It's a very scientific procedure. Try your best!

This picture is a fairly decent representation of what it should look like when it's done. It should be thick but not too thick and definitely not lumpy. Just when you think you've used too much EVOO use a bit more and then you're done.

Remove from the food processor and put into a cute bowl. Cover and store in the fridge. I serve hummus with homemade pita chips or crackers. Carrots are also good dipped into the hummus. I would guess any veggie would be good with hummus. Try to make some today and let me know how it works for you!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Turn on the oven, it's time to roast some garlic!

What's that? You've never roasted garlic? Well, until a few months ago, neither had I. After hours of searching the internet and neglecting my children, laundry piling up in the corner, dishes filling my sink, I finally found a "fail-proof" way to roast garlic. Other than forgetting it's in the oven and allowing it to burn I don't know if you can fail at roasting garlic.

You need some kosher salt, olive oil and garlic. You also need a small piece of aluminum foil. Turn the oven up to 350 degrees. Take a small pice of aluminum foil and roll up the edges just a bit to form an edge so nothing drips onto the bottom of your oven. Next you need to chop off the top of the head of garlic. Make sure all of the cloves are exposed otherwise the skin will roast onto the garlic and you'll never get it out. Don't ask me how I know this. Once you've cut off the top place the head of garlic on the foil. Drizzle with oil. There's no magic amount here, just make sure the garlic is saturated in oil. Then take a pinch or two of kosher salt and sprinkle over the garlic. Place the foil directly on the rack in your oven and let it rost for 30 mins.

The garlic should look like this when it's done. Not burnt but definitely browned. The cloves should be soft. If they aren't brown or seem a bit firm continue to roast. Make sure you keep an eye on them or they will burn. Again, don't ask me how I know this.

You'll want to squeeze the bottom of the head of garlic and the cloves will just pop out. It's actually kinda fun. It's also very messy. It's oily and salty and sticky. It's like playing in glue. I love having messy hands and fingers. I was also digging in the dirt and playing with worms when I was young. My daughter is the same way. It took her awhile, but she's finally come around to digging into the worm box to get us worms when we're fishing. But that's a story for another post, a non-food post. I'm quickly losing my appetite.

So once all of the cloves have been lifted from the head you're ready to go. You can place the cloves in an air-tight container covered in olive oil for up to a month. I like to make roasted garlic hummus! I also make roasted garlic mashed potatoes. It's really up to you...unless you've invited me over, then I want hummus! I'll be posting a recipe for hummus soon!

Ok, now get yourself to the store and pick up as much garlic as you can get your hands on. Then rush home and roast some garlic. Your house will smell lovely and your husband will walk thru the door and think you've prepared a huge Italian meal! Surprise!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

First Day of 2nd Grade

The ceremonial first day of school picture. Doesn't he look thrilled? I thought so too. He woke up and said to the cat, "Hey Dopey, guess what I get to do today? I get to go to school!" Once I was convinced that my son and cat cannot have a conversation and he is not Dr. Doolittle I smiled. I smiled because I love that he is still enjoying school. He was soooooo bored this Summer. Yes, we tried to cram a lot of activities into each and everyday, but it still wasn't enough stimulation for my high-energy 7 year old. Atleast for 8 hours each day he'll have something fun to do. Plus, his newest neighborhood friend is in his class and sits in his row, which is totally awesome. Wait, do the kids today still say "totally awesome"?

Plus, Bryce gets to see his "best friend" Caleb every morning. Caleb's mom works as a teacher in another city and needs to leave before the bus picks up the kids, so he comes over every morning to hang with us. Caleb is a great kid! He helps to calm Bryce down. Although, last year Bryce did manage to break one of Caleb's front teeth. We don't like to talk about that though.....They are convinced they are making a band this year. They are already talking about practicing in Caleb's mom's garage. Hey, better there than here!

Last year I walked the boys down to the bus stop. Because we live on a cul-de-sac, the bus won't come all the way down our street. The bus stop corner is only about 4 houses down but it's difficult to see from our front porch. This year I was told he was big enough to walk to the bus stop himself. I fought back the tears and said OK. I didn't realize that I would be this far away. Taking pictures with my point and shoot at this length is not an easy task. How coul he be so cruel as to deny me a good shot to scrapbook?! Kids today! They just have no respect for their parents!!!

Two new boys moved in at the end of the road this Summer. One of them is in 2nd grade and the oldest is in 6th. Bryce and Caleb were happy to have boys to sit at the bus stop with. Well, I assume they were happy. I wasn't close enough to actually hear what they were saying, but they looked happy. When boys get to hang out with other boys they are generally happy. I wish I was close enough to hear them, what could they possibly be talking about?

There is it, bus 98. Taking my oldest away at school. Gone for 8 hours. I didn't cry this year. I'm kinda getting used to this gone all day thing. It seems like only yesterday when I was searching high and low for all day kindergarten, willing to pay any amount just to have Bryce gone all day...err, I mean just to make sure my son had the best education money could buy. I'm kidding, ofcourse, but that time does seem like many, many moons ago. And now, in one short year, my baby will be heading off to kindergarten.

Do you remember those Staples commercials that used to run right before school started? You know the one where the dad is pushing the cart and is tossing school supplies into said cart with this total look of glee on his face? Behind him the kids were sulking, frowning, shuffling along. The background music was, "It's the most wonderful time of the year....". Remember that one? Well, is it weird that as I was walking back up the drive from watching my oldest hop on a bus to second grade I was humming that tune outloud? I wonder what that means?