Monday, August 31, 2009

My New Comment System

So...I decided to try out a new comment system. I would really like to be able to email people back from their comments and I thought something new might be fun. So leave a comment please! Try it out! too!

I thought I would leave you with a picture of me as a fabulous actress at Vacation Bible School. Every year I play the silly bumbling character who doesn't know about God or Jesus and learns throughout the week of VBS and finally understands the last day. This year I was Skeeter...a dorky lady who was traipsing through the Louisiana Bayou learning to trust God. This was on Day 1 with my "skunk spray". I have to say...I am usually a hit! =) And I am usually followed around with a chorus of "Miss Stephanie...YOU ARE SKEETER" and of course I play dumb!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Farming and Goodbye Honda

This has been a very busy week and weekend. With school starting last week, and my boycott on working in my classroom before school started, I spent my afternoons and early evenings at school this past week. But by Open House on Thursday afternoon, my room was ready!

This weekend has also been busy, but very productive!

Friday evening we went to dinner with friends. We call it "Sign Group" because they are the people I first started learning sign language with 12 years ago. We don't really sign anymore at our get togethers, but we still get together once a month. I had the yummiest adult mac and cheese ever. It had Monterrey jack and white cheddar cheese and you could add toppings. Two toppings were included and 1 more was $1. I had a VERY hard time deciding, but I settled on blue cheese, asparagus, and black beans. It was HEAVENLY.

Saturday I had a meeting at church, we worked in the garden, we packed up stuff at Adam's house and then we had a game night with friends. I LOVE a good game night.

Today we went to Farm and Fleet to get more canning jars and I came home and just finished canning 15 jars of pickles. Bread and Butter and a new kind of Polish Dill. These are 24 hour processing so tomorrow we shall find out how they turned out! Amy's advice totally helped. I boiled a little water a time and getting the 21 quart pot boiling wasn't so bad. I just need more counter space. My kitchen is so tiny and not so conducive to the canning process. Next year will be better!....if we even have a kitchen by then!

The pumpkin patch is pretty far behind last year. But we are still trying to convince ourselves that it will be fine by October. We just need some HOT days. There are lots of little baby pumpkins growing and we did find some good sized ones. Come on pumpkins!

The view of the pumpkin patch from the middle.

Some Baby Book little white pumpkins. They look so good!

A cool gourd. There are so many of them in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. We just need to research when to pick them.

A Jack-Be-Little little orange pumpkin (technically a gourd like the white ones)

Our sad cucumbers. I picked about 30 more cucumbers yesterday and I think they are done. Amy thinks there might have been a mold. We got a GREAT crop, however, they seem to be done a little early in the year. I think I canned about 45 jars of pickles. I haven't counted exactly.
In other exciting news, we have been selling some vegetables to people. I did some espionage at Target and a local produce stand to make sure to price our stuff appropriately. Our stuff is ALL organic, however, organic prices are high. I priced our stuff comparable to the local produce stand (which surprisingly is less expensive than Target). I would think you would pay more for fresh produce! However, at the produce stand, their large jars of pickles are $8. That is a lot of money!
Our tomatoes are coming along slowly and we sold all of our ripe ones yesterday! We also sold some cucumbers...but sadly, it doesn't look like there will be any anymore. We have TONS of onions. They are healthy and looking great. Hopefully some people want to purchase those!

Also, last week I officially turned in my Honda. It was a little sad to say goodbye even though I love my Escape. My CR-V treated me well for four years and never once had a problem. Let's hope my American car can live up to my new standards!
How was your weekend?
Would you like to come purchase some onions??

Monday, August 24, 2009

Take a Guess!-Follow Up!

Last week I posted this picture and asked everyone to take a guess!

There were lots of amusing answers including:
-A bra for a horse
-cat toy
-garlic to keep vampires away

Some good guesses:
-some kind of pod things inside and you'll dig a trench-type thing and then lay that down and plants will grow out of it

And Austin had it (still not sure how!) and Bonnie concurred....

It is drying out onions!

Thanks to the ever smart Amy who researches all that grows, I learned that onions need to dry out separated from each other. You can hang them in hose (or tights that I found at the dollar store) and knot them in between so when you need one you just cut one off the bottom. Right now I have 3 lines hanging from the back of my chair. I CANNOT wait until I live with Adam and I can harvest vegetables and store them right there on his property!

Thanks everyone for participating!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weekend "Fun"

Oh? You want to know what I did this weekend? I would be happy to tell you!

  • Gave the inside of my car a bath....unintentionally.
  • Vacuumed out the inside of my car.
  • Argued with my fiance about wedding photography.
  • Went to bed.


  • Worked at Adam's house-packing all the crap that isn't his so we have a place to live come next July.
  • Continued packing crap at Adam's house.
  • Finished the upstairs and started the kitchen. (Thank goodness for some wonderful family members of his who want to help us out).
  • Picked veggies in the garden.
  • Went to Adam's nieces 14th birthday.
  • Went with my future SILs to the park with our 4 yr old nephew when he was sad that the 14 yr old girls left to play "Ghost in the Graveyard". We just happened to fill some sport bottles with adult beverages to keep us entertained!


  • Went to church
  • Finished our engagement scrapbook.
  • Dug out all of the potatoes from the ground.
  • Weeded 3 60 foot rows of pumpkins.

Now I am updating and then I am going to lay on the couch and not move and enjoy a movie on the last night before school starts again.

Here are my cucumber plants.
Amy, click on the pic and make it bigger and tell me why they are yellow!

All the cucumbers I picked.

Some of my onions.
Some of my tomatoes. Some aren't quite ripe yet, but they always ripen quickly in front of a window.

Amanda, me, Heidi, and Aunt Sue (who didn't approve of our water bottles) and of course Chasey!

14 yr olds playing on the swings!

Amanda playing on the little horse thing!

The one who should ACTUALLY be on the horse!

We totally didn't play on the equipment!

Little Baby Boo pumpkins!

A gourd!

HUGE leaves on some of the pumpkin we just need pumpkins!

The pumpkin patch

My bag of potatoes

The digging I did!
Tomorrow officially begins the 2009/2010 school year with district and program meetings. And major setting up on my part since I decided to enjoy my 3 weeks of "real" summer break and not go in early. Looks like some late nights for me this week!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

NOW you tell me!

So who forgot to tell me that I was supposed to CLOSE the sunroof when it rains?


Obviously that was someone's job.

Because I missed the memo.

As you know know I just bought a new (to me) car last week. I have been really excited about the sun roof on the *few* days we have actually had nice summer weather. Today Friend-Erin and I went into work to make some phone calls and talk to parents. Then I went to Mom and Dad's house to work on our engagement scrapbook. The temperature wasn't bad and I wanted to enjoy my last day of summer, so I opened the sunroof. I went in and did my scrapbooking for a couple hours with Mom. Then I gathered up my stuff and walked outside.

I opened my backdoor to put down my stuff and said, "OH.....snap!" (or something like that). My car was soaking wet.

The inside.

I had left my sun roof open.

And it rained buckets.

There was an inch of water in my cup holder.

I calmly walked back inside and explained to Dad that he really should have told me that I would need to close my sunroof when there was a chance of rain...walked upstairs...grabbed towels and walked back outside.

Dad came out to help.
He is great.

This is after I CLOSED it because it was still drizzling.

It actually ended up being GOOD that I had leather seats because it wiped off pretty quickly. My floors, on the other hand, are completely sopping wet. Luckily I had a towel sitting in the backseat (and it soaked up a bunch of water) from when I was gardening the other day and didn't want to get sweat on my new leather seats...ironic considering I dumped a SWIMMING POOL on them today.

What was on my front seat you ask?
-My school scrap book...AHHH! Actually the cover was soaked but thank goodness for sheet protectors and the scrapbooked pages are fine.
-Jeans I just bought for Adam's niece's birthday tomorrow. Very absorbent.
-My class lists and emergency cards. Umm...yah. I think I am going to need new copies of those.

What does this have to do with leaving my sunroof open?
Well..this is what made me feel better when I got home. But I didn't get home right away because I had to pick up Adam and go to the car wash place and pay $2.00 in quarters to use the vacuum to try to suck the water out of my carpets.
On a happy note, do you see my cute wine glass flip flop? One of my future SILs gave it to me the other day just for fun. SO cute!
Now that you know the story. Who is ready to 'fess up and let me know who was supposed to tell me to close the sunroof when it might rain??

Whip It Up Challenge-Chicken Parmesan

Tonight I made my last Whip It Up Challenge recipe! This one almost didn't make it because I was at work and then scrapping all day and then...well that will be another post.

Anyway, at 8:30 tonight I finally got around to cooking dinner. I made Chicken Parmesan because that is Adam's preferred dish at any restaurant that we go to. So I guess I am trying the recipe of my favorite Chef at...Olive Garden...whoever he may be!

I Googled "Easy Chicken Parmesan Recipe" and Google of course answered me! I tried this recipe and am very satisfied!

Chicken Parmesan

4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
seasoned bread crumbs
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
8 slices mozzarella cheese, or more
1 jar (16 oz) spaghetti sauce
Parmesan cheese

Whisk together the egg and milk.
Dip the chicken breasts in milk and egg mixture and then in bread crumbs.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Brown the chicken in the hot oil on both sides until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
Set chicken in a baking dish.
Slice 8 pieces of mozzarella cheese and put two on each chicken breast.
Pour 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce over all.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a little more mozzarella and bake at 350° for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly.
Serve with spaghetti, garlic bread and a nice green salad.

*I also just made spaghetti with Alfredo sauce and frozen Texas toast to go with it!

(Left: Adam's REAL Chicken Parmesan, Right: my veggie chicken patty on some pasta)

1. Was the recipe easy to follow?
Super Easy!

2. Did the dish taste good?
That is what I hear.

3. Would you make it again?

4. Leftover quotient?
Considering only one person will eat it, there are probably 3 or 4 more meals left.

5. Any additions/edits to the recipe?
Yes, because I didn't do any grocery shopping and just used what I had.
-I didn't have an egg so I just mixed some vegetable oil with the milk before I breaded the chicken.
-I used shredded Mozzarella because that is what I had.
-I used boneless skinless chicken breast tenderloins because I accidentally bought those instead of the normal they were smaller.

6. Adam's thoughts?
"This is really good. I ate it all didn't I?"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Still trying to be a winner!

I'm still trying to be a winner on blog giveaways. I must keep trying if I want to win!

Jen, from My Front Porch Looking In, is giving away a book this week. I LOVE to read and I love a new author so I thought this would be a fun book to try for. She is giving away The Girl Who Played With Fire By Stieg Larsson. I think if I win, I will have to read the book that comes before it first.

Fantabulously Frugal is also doing a giveaway from NOVICA. She received some neat items. I would love one of the vases. This one really tickled my fancy!

A new blog I am reading (Thanks Erin) is also doing a giveaway for a fantastic pink bag that I need want to have along with some school supplies! Check out her giveaway at Classroom Confessions.

Are YOU trying to win anything this week?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Whip It Up Challenge-Bread and Butter Pickles

I am making up my recipe from last week because I got behind...again. We had two photographer appointments last week and a couple meetings, so I did not do any original cooking.

This week I made Bread and Butter pickles with cucumbers from our garden!

Last year I made dill pickles only. This year I am trying both!

Last year, Mom picked up a packet of Mrs. Wages Bread and Butter Pickle Mix for me, but I never got a chance to use it. So this year I decided to make my first pickles of the season with it.

I am not sure exactly how many cucumbers I used, I lost track. But I think I figured about 3 per jar. I made 7 1 quart jars. So about 21 cucumbers?

You just follow the directions right on the package. The recipe requires the seasoning in the packet, 5 pounds of sugar and 10 cups of vinegar.

These are quick process pickles and are ready in 24 hours!

The brine mixture heating up on the stove and the hot jar packed with pickles.

The final product

I went and picked more cucumbers yesterday before I made them because I wasn't sure how many I would need. I had to make 6 jars of dill pickles today!

1. Was the recipe easy to follow?
Yes, as long as you understand a little about canning.

2. Did the dish taste good?
They are yummy pickles!

3. Would you make it again?
Without a doubt

4. Leftover quotient?

This doesn't really apply because there are supposed to be a lot of them. They are going to last us a very long time!

5. Any additions/edits to the recipe?

6. Adam's thoughts?

He thought the brine mixture smelled delicious (of course 5 pounds of sugar would appeal to him!). He said he really liked the pickles as well.
Grandpa tried them today and said he was going home to have a hamburger for dinner with my bread and butter pickles on it!

Take a guess!!

Guess what this is?
Come on...leave a comment.
Yes, that means YOU.
Take a guess!

Hint: It has something to do with the garden.

Teenage Mutant Ninja.....vegetables?

On Friday I spent quite a bit of time in the little garden. Of course I weeded like a crazy woman...because I like my plants weed free.

Then I spent time harvesting! I picked all of these cucumbers. In just one day! I can't believe how huge some of them are. I walked over to school (because it is right next to Adam's house) and dropped off some for my principal and secretary since they were inside working on such a nice day.

I also picked a bunch of onions and a few tomatoes! I also picked one carrot, but it got buried under the cukes.

Adam spent time rototilling between the rows in the pumpkin patch and then Sunday morning was spent weeding the patch.

More pictures to come soon!

Oh yeah, and I also picked this crazy potato. Who would eat that?? The other ones look good...not this one! And I also found this Siamese twin cucumber. That was a first as well. I chopped it up today and made it into.....oh...I can't say. That will be a future post!

Wedding Projects-Save the Dates

On Wednesday, Mom, Emily, Elizabeth and I (my first cousins) hit up the mall to buy them birthday gifts and then they came back to Mom and Dad's house to help me with our Save the Date project. Now...I'm not going to show you the final project yet, but you can see it involves, pink paper, white paper, and black ribbon. They were a great help and we got a lot of cutting completed. We also got some extra cutting completed...because we were on such a roll...that we realized we weren't supposed to do....oops. But we made it work.

Also, you can see part of our stamping set-up in the background. We like everything on shelves where it is easily visible and accessible.

This is the fun part of wedding planning! I love the little projects. The big decisions stress me out. I feel as if I need to plan and research and make spreadsheets until I am blue in the face. But this stuff...I love. Fun and creative!

In other wedding planning news, Adam and I had our first photographer appointments last week. We feel really good about it. We have one more this week and then we will make a decision. Finding a photographer has made me feel a little bit like I am insane. There are so many options and decisions and it is SO much money...I will be happy when we make a decision we are happy with and can move on!

Our project...
Mom, Emily, and Elizabeth

Emily, Me, Elizabeth
Oh and in other crafting news...I finished my school scrapbook this week! I scrap 4 pages from every school year and 2 from the summer. I was 2 years behind, but I caught up on Monday. I don't have any more to do until the next school year ends. Woot! I am very proud of it. Now I just need to get started on our Engagement scrapbook.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm On a Boat

So this story starts on the last day of school. The last day of school we have to work for 3 hours, however, we had nothing left to do because we had all finished packing our classrooms. We finished organizing our cum(ulative) folders already and had nothing school related to finish doing. So...we did the next best thing! Friend-Erin and I and some other girls from work sat around watching SNL skits on hulu and Youtube! I had heard of the "I'm On a Boat" song before, but had never seen it. I thought it was hilarious!

The song is pretty naughty, but I did find a clean version to post here. Not that you can't guess what they are saying....but I tried. It is too funny not to post!

Fast forward to the Sunday before VBS when I was driving with a bunch of trees in my car to church. I texted Amy and said, "I'm driving in a jungle". She texted me back and said, "We have a boat in our van. I'm on a boat!". So I said "I've got my flippy floppies" and she texted back another line from the "I'm On a Boat" song and it went back and forth.

So then one day during VBS Amy and I decided to get in the boat. We thought we were pretty funny. And we are showing off our flippy floppies!

So I was on a boat too!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fully Loaded???

So last time I wrote about my car search here, I was VERY frustrated. I have good news now!

However, before before that...
Sister-Erin updated her blog and her layout. Super cute! Make sure to leave her a comment and encourage her to update more often!

Back to the car search..

So as you know, I was looking for a 2009 Escape. I wanted silver (or black as a second choice) only and preferably a grey interior. Well. There aren't any. There were some red ones. Some silver with a tan interior. Some white. Some really expensive ones. But not what I wanted. I started to feel bad that I was being girly about the color. But ya know what? Buying a car is a big purchase and I wanted to be happy!

So after Adam called about 7 different dealers just to be told, "Cash for Clunkers wiped us out. There aren't any 09 Escapes" we finally found one that was willing to locate a car. A black ( I could deal!) 09 with all the options I wanted and only one I didn't want (black rims). They came down a lot in price and I was to go pick it up Monday (This was Thursday). It was in Wisconsin so they had to send someone to get it. They said we didn't have to sign anything yet, but we sat there while he talked to the guy in WI about the car they were going to trade and it was all good. Woo Hoo! I was so excited. I emailed our guy Sunday night to let him know I could come in any time Monday.

Well Monday morning I got an email from him saying, "Oh you didn't get my message Friday? The other dealer won't trade. Sorry"
So I spent Monday morning on the phone and on the Internet. Adam called our guy who said sorry, but the other dealer wouldn't trade. He SO didn't leave a message. He was WAY too wimpy to. We could have been looking all weekend and lost out on many cars that keep getting sold. Then Adam talked to the owner of the dealer. Adam explained that we were pretty upset about this and the OWNER of a CAR DEALER said, "There are more important things in life than buying a car."
Well, OF COURSE there are. But YOUR JOB is it sell cars. If a parent was upset about little Suzie not learning her colors I would never say, "There are more important things in life than learning your colors". I had a few choice names to call him.
So we stated again. We called and Internet-ed for several days. Then we had the idea to buy a used car. Well it wasn't so much an idea, but out of necessity because there are literally no 2009s left and the 2010s aren't out yet. So we started the used car search. We called around. About that time I had posted on Facebook about all the drama and a co-worker suggested Haggerty Ford in West Chicago. We visited there and really liked a silver 2008, but we still wanted to look around. The next day, we visited another dealer who supposedly had a silver 2008. Adam talked to them and they said it would be there after 1:00. Well, we went at 7:00 and it wasn't there. Apparently the sales manager is driving it and he was off Tuesdays.

Annoyed. Done with them.

So we went back to Haggerty and they were wonderful. The 2008 they had was fully loaded...heated leather seats, sun roof, cargo package, etc. We worked with a wonderful sales guy (let me know if you need to buy a car in the area!) and because of using my co-workers name, they gave us a GREAT deal. The car has 23,000 miles, which is about 11,000 a year (just about what I put on a car), so it has already depreciated, but doesn't have TOO many miles. I was feeling a little guilty about having so many options (I feel like I should only have a bare bones car), but we decided that it was worth it. It wasn't that much more a month, I will most likely want to drive it longer, it will have a better trade in value, and it will be very useful for many years (even when we have kids....several years down the line!).
So I am happy and love my *new to me* SILVER Escape.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Like To Win Things/Wedding Cake Topper Rambling

So...because it is summer, I have time to try to do things like try to win blog giveaways. There are TWO that I am currently trying to win.

My friend Erin is giving away a Famous Footwear gift card. I like shoes a lot. Well, usually I like other people's shoes because I never buy shoes for myself because I feel guilty. I usually only buy flip flops for myself because they are inexpensive. But if I won this gift card I would actually buy myself shoes! So enter her giveaway if you want new shoes. But maybe not...if there are fewer entries maybe I could win!

Lacey Bean at Perks of Being a JAP is giving away GAP jeans and a GAP gift card...ending today! I would also love GAP jeans. Again, I don't buy jeans for myself a lot because...they are expensive! So I usually only buy them when another pair has bit the dust. Also, I have really enjoyed following Lacey's blog recently because I like what she blogs about, and she is getting married next spring and she sometimes posts really cute ideas! Like her recent post about wedding cake toppers that sent me searching the Internet for one that would fit Adam and me for an hour last night. I didn't find anything yet that caught my attention, except these uber expensive custom ones at Magic Mud. I would REALLY love one of these! They also have a blog and a post with one I would REALLY love! I must keep searching for something more reasonably priced!

Will you be my Maid of Honor?

So a few weeks ago, when I posted this about asking my bridesmaids, I said that I would post separately abut asking my sister. It has taken me a while because I was waiting for a picture of her opening her package. Her friend was visiting her in Morocco so she has been a bit busy...but she finally sent me the picture!

I wanted Erin to get her package and be asked before anyone I said in my other post, I did ask Meg first because she was in town. Erin did make me a little crazy because I sent her package and waited on pins and needles for her to get it. Then one day I got a Facebook comment from her saying she got my package but didn't open it yet. !?!?!?!? But then she did the next day! So I got to talk to her on her birthday about it, so that was nice.

I also sent her a poem that I found on the lovely Internet (no, I am not this creative), but I tweaked it a little to fit what I wanted it to say.


As my sister you must know your place inside my heart.

Since on the day that I will wed,
you'll play a special part.

When I am walking down the aisle, a very happy bride,
It means so very much to me to have you by my side.

And if upon my wedding day,
tears in your eyes I see,
I won’t be surprised because they will show
how close we have come to be.

So do not think that things will change
because I'll become a wife.
You'll always hold a special place of honor in my life.

I'll treasure all the memories of growing up with you,
For sisters form a lasting bond
that's tested, tried and true.

And, now that I'm about to wed,
becoming Adam's wife,
Dear Sister you will always be
Important in my life.

There are many pieces to planning this day
And that is why I have this to say:
“Put together this puzzle
And you will see
The question I am asking thee!”

Love, Stephanie

Erin should be coming home at the end of May, finished with the Peace Corps! She will arrive home just in time to get her dress fitted and work on last minute wedding stuff.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Whip It Up-Tomato and Spinach Toss

For my other Whip It Up cooking adventure this week I decided to make another recipe from my binder. This also came from the same mom of a student at my old job. She sometimes reads my blog, so if you are, "Thanks again for these yummy recipes! Adam thanks you too!"

Anyway, she got this recipe from here. I know this because it says it on the paper! In the recipe print out I have, the picture of the dish looks slightly different, but the recipe is the exact same. The new picture on Kraft's website looks way more tomato-y than mine. And to be honest, I don't know if I would have made it had it looked so tomato-y!

Tomato and Spinach Pasta Toss

2 cups rotini or penne pasta, uncooked
1/2 lb. hot or mild Italian sausage, casing removed
1 pkg. (6 oz.) baby spinach leaves (7 cups)
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup KRAFT Shredded Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese
2 Tbsp. KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese

COOK pasta as directed on package.
MEANWHILE, crumble meat into large deep skillet. Cook on medium-high heat 10 to 12 min. or until cooked through, stirring occasionally; drain. Add spinach and tomatoes; cook 2 min. or until spinach is wilted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.
DRAIN pasta. Add to skillet along with the cheeses; toss lightly.

Here is the meal WITH the meat

Here is my meatless version

1. Was the recipe easy to follow?
I really don't think it could have been any easier. It was also rather quick. The only problem was it dirtied up 3 pots/pans (it would have only been 2 if I cooked the meat together with the tomatoes)

2. Did the dish taste good?
It was REALLY yummy!

3. Would you make it again?
I will definitely be making this again. Especially when I need something quick to whip up.
4. Leftover quotient?
There is probably enough pasta left for 1 more meal for the two of us. And enough meat for Adam for that meal.

5. Any additions/edits to the recipe?
-I (of course) threw in more cheese than the recipe called for
-I cooked the meat separately and just added it at the end to Adam's plate

6. Adam's thoughts?
"I really liked this. Well, except for the tomatoes....and the spinach."
Adam has a thing about chunky tomatoes so he ate around them. And he ate around most of the spinach. But he agreed that it gave a lot of good flavor and didn't mind them being in there.