Sunday, August 31, 2014

Superhero Sunday - Coulda been?

I admit it, sometimes I just forget to put my cape on. I know it seems impossible, right? But it's true. Take yesterday for example - Had I donned the flowing fabric, perhaps I could've been a hot mess making my forty-three jars of salsa...muy caliente! Instead, I was just a mess... es bueno.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Week 13 - The Fun is in FUNKO!

Will week 13 of the contest be a lucky one for me? 

I went on my fair share of quests for my two kids…the hard to find Rescue Hero, the newest and cutest Littlest Pet Shop critter. There was adventure and suspense for this collector. Now that most of the toys have been packed away, I sort of missed the thrill of the chase, a bit melancholy and lonely without action figures and other miniatures to keep me company. Then – POP! Who on earth were these funky friends?

It started simply enough when we caught a glimpse of Miss Piggy sitting alone on some random shelf at a toy store. I could not leave her there amongst none of her Muppet pals, so we brought her home and promised to find her Kermie. My teenage son soon spotted some superheroes, and invited Captain America and Iron Man to join his shelf of wonders. He had never really been much for the world of these characters on the screen, but something about their Pop Vinyl forms spoke to him. I believe the Elf came next, completely brightening my day when I felt that whole crazy felt made guy was too childish for my teens, the Pop Vinyl one took things to a much more hip level!

I had no idea of the world we were stumbling into…so many, so funny. One innocent google search and we were in awe of the possibilities. Duck Dynasty Phil was immediately ordered on Amazon. Sure, clicking to order took away a little bit of the fun of searching, but who was I to stop a boy with an Amazon gift card. The announcement made it official: “I think I am going to collect Pop Vinyls.” Decisions, decisions. Would he pick one theme and try to get everyone, or dabble a bit here and there, or buy a large bookcase and shoot the moon?

The holidays were fast approaching so I ordered up a Marty McFly and a MuscleMan. I hadn’t had time to seek out a large selection at a store. I did not want my daughter to feel left out of the madness, so I ordered her the Pooh and Tigger minis. A post-holiday trip to Barnes & Noble revealed where a lot of Pop Vinyls like to hang out. Hooray! Domo Flash, and to Miss Piggy’s relief, Kermie AND Fozzie went into the bag. Mary Poppins just stared at me. She knew I was thinking back to all of those years ago when I played her movie soundtrack on my record player, singing along loudly.  My kids never got hooked on her, sadly, and I couldn’t justify this one selfish purchase for my own self when so many other boxes were calling out to my teenagers. I keep thinking about her sitting there in her supercalifragilisticexpialidocious hat!

Thanks for all of the smiles and the next grand collector phase for this family.

Fun & funky,

So did they POP out a response? Nothing as of yet, but we have still managed to add Dory, Nemo, Skips, Benson, Mordecai, Rigby and Carl Fredrickson to the collection...AND the quest continues!
Some of the gang!
 Zero points, but plenty of fun!
Current total = 30 POINTS

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Random pause

Remember those a-z challenges? Fun, right? The first year I bumbled along on my own alliteration adventure. The following two years I went with themes very near and dear to me and many of you sang along. I was also a minion...
...part of Tina's Terrific Team. She became a fun friend who provided great support and comments.  She was apparently easily amused as well, which worked great for my ego. She provided a great window into her world, full of spunk and Swedish. 

Her blogging had become sporadic as of late, so I was excited to see what she was up to when I saw a post from her blog show up in my feed the other day...until I realized the post was from her family, letting us know she was gone.

I choose today to pause a random moment for Tina, and to salute her with thoughts of creepy monkeys and two other things that will remind me of her...a classic song and all things Swedish. Rest in Peace.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Superhero Sunday - Outcharmed

Sometimes even superheroes are humbled. My three year old niece informed me of her powers, and while it depends on the day whether she uses them for good or evil, they are super nonetheless. This is just one of the tiaras she traveled with...
I swear I did not swipe her pink elephant blanket cape, but may have to go make my own!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Week 12 - The chips are down!

What's a contest without chips? And what are chips without Nestle?

Dear Nestle:

One of the finest moments in the life of this stay-at-home mother was finding a playgroup. Sure, I wanted to give our little cherubs the opportunity to socialize in single syllables, master the art of swiping the good toys with ninja-like skills, and sharing whatever germs they had, but what I really craved was the prospect of talking to other adults. In the unlikely event that my riveting conversation alone may not have been enough to secure my spot at such gatherings, I needed to add some other valuable skill to the mix. Baked goods. I could provide homemade baked goods!

My chocolate chip cookies always got rave reviews from children and adults as well. They seemed to think I had a secret, and I suppose in a way I did. Little did anyone know that they could have been privy to the same information just by grabbing the yellow bag of Nestle semi-sweet morsels. I can barely remember back to the days when I didn't have the recipe for the Original Tollhouse Cookies committed to memory.

Cookies on the counter, dough balls in the refrigerator to be baked up fresh the next day, and dough balls in the freezer for emergencies. For last minute invitations, I was able to cut my necessary lead time down to thirty-five minutes by putting the batter all in a pan for Tollhouse bars. Your chips gave me the ability to waltz into a friend's house with a warm pan of delicious. In fact, that might have been the reason I was invited to begin with, that inability to show up empty-handed. Eyes on the prize, and I got human contact with people over three feet tall.

As my children got older, they were exposed to the wonders of the cookie cake, and I became acquainted with the high prices the supermarkets were charging for such fare. I had semi-sweet chips, a recipe's worth of other ingredients and a round pizza stone. I was a rock star in my own house, and mind, when I pulled those cookie cakes out of the oven. After putting some chocolate frosting around the edge, we had it made...homemade. My son just turned sixteen and still requested cookie cake for his birthday dessert.

Back in the early days of my cookie cake baking, I sometimes forgot if I was supposed to put a full batch of dough on the stone, or just half. I only had to use a whole recipe once to never forget the answer to that question again. Less than halfway into the baking time, I checked to see how things were going. They were going right to the edge. In a matter of minutes, things were going right over the edge! I was stumped as to what to do, as there was soon a ring of fire in the bottom of my oven. The smoke alarms were going off and my daughter was crying. I am not sure if her concern was the noise, the cookie dough flambe, the slightly crazed look on her mother's face, or the potential loss of cookies for snack time. I remember waving the smoke and opening some windows, all the while wondering if I could keep the oven on long enough to cook whatever dough was left on the stone. I had to be able to salvage some of my Tollhouse treat. Certainly I deserved some melty chocolatey goodness after that stress. It was no easy feat to get that masterpiece out of the oven, as there was no edge of the pan free to grab. Trying to get the burnt dough out of the bottom of the oven was just sad.

Time has its way of transforming trying moments into funny memories. My daughter is thirteen now and can make the cookies herself. I think she might have expected a more formal passing of the torch the day I told her the secret to delicious chocolate chip cookies. Instead, I called into the kitchen from the other room "Use the recipe right there on the bag, Sweetie!"

Morsels of thanks,

So did they think I was half-baked?
Well, they did write back and sent me some coupons and recipes (perhaps to help prevent any future rings of fire). The coupon is not pictured because, have you been here before? This girl needs cookies! 
TWO POINTS! My current total is 30 POINTS.
Check out the competition this week!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Random recap

We have been back from vacation for just under twenty-four hours, and I am happy to report that I have found my kitchen counter. (It had been missing for days before we left.) Granted, I am about to get into a jam (Blueberry Mojito specifically) so the clutter is starting to gather again very quickly...jars, lids, rings!

Here is just a little recap from our time away...

Breakfast on the beach with a rather heavy box of donuts...
...and no crowds to share with.

A lot of this...
...and this...
...despite this...
Ooooh, chilly...nearly frozen. That's right, FROZEN! Tattoos all around, compliments of Princess Elsa Ella.


Do you want to build a snow sandman?

So many seals! I finally got a picture that sort of captures just how close they came to shore...and my son!

What did my husband the beachcomber find this year?

And to wrap up a couple of the days...


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Superhero Sunday - Salty

Vacation time, and with my "good" capes left at home, it was once again time to improvise.
I know the folks on shore felt safer seeing me patrolling the tide, until...
...nothing a quick wring couldn't fix!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Week 11 - Sweets for the sweet

I sure hope the winner of this CONTEST gets candy...lots and lots of candy! Speaking of candy...mmm...candy... 

Dear Jelly Belly Folks,

Sometimes it’s hard to decide what to have for snack. Luckily, with your ever-expanding array of Jelly Belly flavors, I do not have to commit to one thing. In just one handful I can cover several munching bases, as well as some beverages.

We had a little impromptu family bonding activity recently brought on by your beans. My husband passed around some single serving packs, that thankfully had the color-coded key on them. There was much conversation, taunting and trading going on. We initiated new members into the “I tried the buttered popcorn” club. Suffice to say, those now all get passed to me, as I have been assigned to take them for the team. They are much easier to swallow than the lawn clippings one I ate out of a Bean Boozled box years ago. I swear I can still taste that one. I didn’t even have any tutti-fruttis, red apples or cream sodas to wash it down with, and was too afraid of grabbing a vomit one instead. Of course, on Jelly Belly feasting night, my teenage son was wishing we still had that box.

Thank you for providing year round jelly bean joy with your jellies for our bellies.

 Andrea Casarsa

The result? This here letter...

...proof that somebody actually read the one I sent! That's another point for me! My current total is 28.

Stop by the competition...she'll get her post up eventually!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

Week Ten - Here we are again!

Prepare for another installment of 

Some of you have done your happy dances cried your eyes out and sent the kids back to school already. If you are like us, with another few weeks of summer to soak up, perhaps you are looking for some fun. Might I present...

Dear Gamewright Folks,

When our youngest child approached game playing age, we were filled with a mix of feelings. It was exciting to have her join us at the table, but we also felt like we had done our time reassembling the ice cubes and getting stuck in Molasses Swamp. Luckily we found the world of Gamewright games.

Without a lot of pieces to set up, and later step on and lose, and such engaging stories and pictures, we were quickly hooked. Wig Out was our inaugural gateway game. We manned ourselves with the pamphlet that came inside the box and set out to find our next game.

The kitchen table was more of a flurry of activity after dinner was over. We adults had to stay alert, as there was always a decent chance the kids would beat us, eliminating any need to strategize how we were going to discreetly throw the game.

With such compact boxes, we could pack several games when we traveled, sharing that jester joy with everyone we knew. When it came time for gift giving, we shared our favorites, or based selections on someone’s love of penguins or frogs.

Now that our children are teenagers, we do still get our games out once in awhile. (Even if it seems as though we are using a six-year-old visitor as an excuse.) Thank you for your incredible offerings that have given us such fond family time memories. I present an ode to the Gamewright games in our closet…

Wig Out with its hairdos and hilarious faces

Scrambled States (1 and 2) with such colorful places

Toss Your Cookies with cards of sugary feasts

Knock, knock Rat-A-Tat-Cat, I hope I have the least

Ugly Doll – racing to match Wage and his friends

Dweebies – making sure the folks matched on the ends

Thing-a-ma-bots asked us to remember the name

Hocus Focus made us find nothing the same

We Pounced around the house as cats at play

Loot had us sailing off on arrrrgh way

In a Pickle left us trying to figger

Which things were smaller and which ones bigger

There’s a Moose in Your House unless you played a door

The Sleeping Queens never once made us snore

Story Cubes let us decide how the story would end

At Mount Olympus we stole Zeus from our friend

Now that our children are old enough to text

Tell us dear Jester…what’s up next?

Game On,

Andrea Casarsa

The result?!?! Zilch...or maybe they are just playing games with me? Either way, we appreciate all of the fun and kitchen table memories! 

So that's 27 points and holding. Let's see what the competition has in store this week!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Just a taste of random

We, and by "we" I mean just Fozzie and me apparently, are running a sleep deprivation study around here. I knew after just one night that my participation was not to have positive effects, and am not interested in finding out how many more days it will take to seal the deal. On the plus side, I suppose I have an excuse for this short bit of random.

I am pleased to show you this...
...which only makes sense if you remember this...
I may have finally convinced the husband that a box of cereal can be a regular weekly purchase, but I have noticed a slight twitch as he sees his options decrease. I am just dazzled by visions of what else I might be able to store on that shelf.

I am not opposed to a nice pizza bubble now and then, except when it happens only on my side of the pizza and sends my toppings cascading down onto the husband's half.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Superhero Sunday - DIYish

Will the true DIYers please look away for a second, or kindly put on your capes and get here already! An arched window (please don't call it semi-circle because it would make things easier if it actually was) is lovely, except when it faces west and shoots laser beams of sunlight into your family room and straight at your daughter's spot at the dinner table. I had a plan, and it was a decent plan, however a couple of steps may have been missing. Right now, with this super fabric, I may just leap off the ladder!
No need to stay tuned for the finished project, as I typically go for months with some half finished, good enough type of arrangement.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Week 9 is fine*!

*Oh dear, I fear, I have resorted to rhyming titles for this contest now. 

The blueberries have been picked, so any day now I will be in a jam! Salsa and pickles will soon follow. All canning supplies are not created equal, and this week's letter goes out to my favorite (note: it was written back in February)...

Dear Ball Canning Creators,

Despite the feet of snow we have on the ground here, I had a little glimpse of summer days when my son grabbed a jar of homemade salsa from the basement. I don’t trust my canning efforts to just any products and instead choose Ball jars and lids.

Some of the Ball jars in my collection have made their way through several hands in our family, encompassing more than one generation. I remember my smaller hands pulling the quart jars of pears out of my grandparents’ refrigerator, and years later, using those jars to can peaches with my grandmother.

I have been helping my grandmother clear out some things from her basement. As I looked at all of the metal clamped jars, I did remember her making grape jelly with the wax. She even had some of the original blue Ball jars with glass lids. I smiled thinking about all of the women in our family whose hands had held those jars.

Please help me with this question…Is it proper etiquette to return jars after enjoying their contents? Is there not some sort of unspoken rule that says you only get refills if you give your jar back, or is this another of life’s great mysteries? Speaking of mysteries, why can I never keep the right lids and rings on hand to match up with my jar inventory?

I know this is crazy talk, but can you imagine if the jars came back filled with someone else’s specialty? What a delicious cycle that would be. Thank you for being a part of our family for so many years. I look forward to passing the tradition on.

In a pickle…with the jar half full,

 Andrea Casarsa
Mother, canner, blogger

The response?
Yay! Confirmation that jars should be returned. Oh and 5 points for free lids! add that to my previous 22 points, and I am at 27 POINTS!

Check out the competition!