So How Do We Iron Chef – 2011

What a week-end!

We gathered at my parents with all my siblings, their spouses and children for our traditional spring gathering thatย  we’ve dubbed The Remix.

Part of the crazy fun included our annual Iron Chef Competition! This year’s secret ingredient was a Mix. We could bring anything made from a mix – or a mix of things (ie: Chex Mix or Trail Mix.)

I did not have an entry this year – I just didn’t have time.ย  (But it’s okay – that date day with my husband was worth it!)

Theย  kids did though – Angel Girl made a yummy brownie -filled cookie that we found at The Picky Palate that used a brownie mix. Buddy made our favorite Hot Chocolate Cookies using hot chocolate mix and Dagmar made a new -absolutely wonderful – diet busting treat – Caramel Chex Mix. (Yes – I will share the recipe!)

Pedro went a little outside the box and put together a mix of music on his Itouch as “food for the soul”!

He wasn’t the only one that thought outside the box!

Some of my nieces and nephews blew me away with their entries!

There was the winner in the Best Represents the Family category – Sweet Prairie Memories.


This delightful jello concoction (jello is a mix!) recreated out of candy many of the things that the grand-kids love about Papa and Nana’s house.

You can see candy grandkids inter-tubing down the river, Nana playing bear in the trees, the prairie playhouse and Papa Jim on the lawn mower pulling wagons full of grand kids.

Then there was Butter Bun’s entry. (You may remember Butter Buns as my very creative 7 year old niece.) This time she “mixed” food with technology and made the amazing “cake froster”.


The mustard bottle in the middle holds frosting. You can then rotate it around the cake and squirt as much or as little frosting as you desire on your piece. ๐Ÿ™‚

Watch for in a stores everywhere!

The grand prize in the Best Use of the Secret Ingredient Category went to my nieces Lexie and Molly for the triple layer cake and pie concoction.

Minecraft cakeThink “Turducken” meets the pastry world. Each layer is a pie baked with a cake surrounding it.

I’m serious people.ย  Each layer has a pie baked right inside a cake.

There were three layers.

With frosting.

And a mural on the outside in frosting complete with green creepers and a pink pig made out of caramels.

That thing was huge! They had to custom design a carrying case for it out of springform pans, a mixing bowl and duct tape just to get it there!

Talk about creativity!

Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t have time to make an entry – I’m not sure I can compete on this level! ๐Ÿ™‚

Those nieces and nephews of mine have just raised the bar for future Iron Chef Competitions.



Rules of Eating

chocolate chip torteWe’re gearing up for a big weekend with my entire family.

A weekend that will be full of fun and laughter – and food. You can’t forget the food.

Not that we will try!

No – we will mark the passing of time by which meal is put in front of us! We see it as a sport that we call “recreational eating”.

We have a “dessert bar” that is open day and night. There’s nothing like a little chocolate brownie for breakfast. ๐Ÿ™‚

We’ve gotten so good at this that we have even discovered certain “rules of eating” to avoid gaining weight.

Would you like me to share? ๐Ÿ™‚

1. If you eat it off a child’s plate, there are no calories – the child got them all.

2. If you cut your food in half before eating it – all of the calories fall out.

3. Any food eaten standing up has no calories since the effort it takes to stand up counteracts the calories in the food.

4. Any food eaten outside has no calories – they are absorbed by the fresh air.

And finally – they one we rely on most heavily –

5. All food eaten during a meal that is filled with lots of laughter will have no calories because the sound of laughter will wipe all the calories away!

truffle lovers cupcakesNow with rules like these – I just need to decide what decadent chocolate treat to bring to share!

Cupcakes? Cookies? Brownies? Bars?

New recipe or an old favorite?

Hmm…I wonder what my sisters and nieces are bringing?

It’s going to be a great weekend! ๐Ÿ™‚

Golden Memories!

It was an amazing weekend!

As you know, my parents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this year – and my siblings and I wanted to honor them.

But what do you do with a Mom who hates Open Houses, and a fun-loving crazy bunch of kids and grand-kids?

You create a Golden Event!

So all 34 of us met here – at my house – last weekend for a unique celebration full of food, laughter and memories.

Unique describes it well!

Family started coming in on Thursday – with Saturday being the day of the Event (which we kept a surprise from Mom and Dad.)

Okay – a word here about trying to surprise my mom – she has been known to open presents early and re-wrap them because she can’t stand the suspense! Mom quizzed one of my sisters so much that my sister finally had to say, “Mom – I am not a present for you to shake for information! And no fair shaking my children either!”ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

It may be hard to surprise Mom – but we pulled it off in a really big way!

After lunch the grand kids decorated the car before we all got “dressed up” in our fancy attire for the big Event which we dubbed “The Golden”.ย  Since playing with dress-up clothes has always been a favorite activity – we had a lot of fun with this.

We had everything from the glamorous to the outrageous! One of my nieces came as a cowgirl, one nephew wore a bright plaid suit coat with a pink tie and holey jeans while my brother wore plaid shorts, a striped t-shirt and a Hawaiian shirt!

My costume? I actually found an ecru (almost golden) lace dress at the thrift store for 10 cents. Score!

Why the fancy attire? We were heading to a “Red Carpet Premiere”!

That’s right! My brother – in his eye-numbing ensemble – led our caravan of vehicles to the newly renovated Princess Theater in town – which we rented for a few hours to show 3 amazing homemade videos.

My youngest sister made two of them.

The first showed Mom and Dad’s courtship, marriage and our growing up years. The second covered everything since then – including all the grandchildren.

Together they covered 50 years of memories.

Let’s just say that we went through a lot of Kleenex.

The third video was made by all the grandchildren – it was a crazy documentary full of family humor and inside jokes. We laughed so hard we cried!

Mom and Dad loved it!

Everybody loved it! I can’t tell you how amazing it was to sit in that darkened theater holding Jan’s hand and watching Mom and Dad’s love story play out on the big screen. Tears flowed as picture after picture reminded me of the rich heritage I have – a heritage of love and laughter.

The kids just thought it was pretty cool to see themselves on the screen in a real movie theater.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

From the theater we went to the local REC where we had rented the community room for the evening. We sat the entire family around one extra – extra long table and served a nice meal (nothing fancy – just good home cooking!).

The rest of the evening was spent dancing, singing, playing games, eating, and reading mom and dad’s love letters (Dad will never win awards for his poetry – butย  gets lots of points for being very romantical!)

It was such a special time – and so much fun!

I feel so blessed to be a part of this crazy bunch – to have grown up surrounded by all this love and support – to be able to call my siblings my best friends – to have parents who are still crazy about each other after being married for 50 years.

It was an amazing week-end.

Going Camping…

800px-SparklerIt’s that time once again – the weekend that my children look forward to all year – it’s time to go camping.

We’ve spent the last week finding things, packing them, unpacking and repacking them.

Sleeping bags were aired out, food prepared, camera batteries found.

Towels were selected – good enough so I wouldn’t be embarrassed that they were seen in public – but old enough to potentially get ruined or forgotten.

Lists were made, checked off, remade, and adjusted.

A million little details were taken care of.

All of this for 3 days.

Days full of hot dog roasts, creek wading, and playing Frisbee. These are long days and short nights with mosquito bites and sunburn.

But – we’ll spend those days with each other – no distractions – no i pods, mp3 players, computers, TV, or radio – there isn’t even cell phone reception!

We will eat way too much, laugh till we cry, and make some amazing memories.

Is it worth all the trouble, the time spent preparing, the 3 hour car drive, and the sunburns?

You bet!

I’m just as exciting as the kids are!

Have a wonderful July 4th weekend!


Luge I had to share this fun picture we took at my sister’s!

Her engineering husband has designed a luge that takes off from their patio.

Sledders start on a wooden platform and slide on sleds down a snow covered wooden ramp.

Then they slide on to a packed path that goes deep into the woods behind their house.

It’s extra fun when you hook you sleds together and go down as a “train”!

What a wet and fun afternoon!

And yes- I went down it, too, many times actually.ย  Even once with my sister, screaming and laughing all the way!

But those pictures will not be published! ๐Ÿ˜‰