Hello There...

Welcome to my blog. I'm a full-time mommy of a 4-year-old & a 0-year-old, part-time waitress and a rookie blogger. Living on a farm with my son, daughter and husband among dogs, chickens, ducks and other various wildlife keeps life interesting and anything but normal!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Letter

Warmest greetings from our family to yours. Once again I am humbled by the abundant blessings that this year has brought.  In hopes that you have much to be thankful for this holiday season, we wanted to share with you a few things we are grateful for…

We started off the year by finding a buyer for our home in Muskego. After having moved over 2 years ago, and trying to sell for almost 3 years, we closed and made the sale final in February of 2011. That called for a celebratory lunch at Subway. $5 Footlongs, baby (I mean, what’d you expect, we’d been paying 2 mortgages for the past 2.5 years)! All kidding aside, we were so glad that our prayers had been answered and that the final details came together and we could make some first-time homeowners very happy!

February also brought an addition to the farm. After many not-so-subtle hints from the farmer (Donny) I surprised him with a new zip line for his birthday. With a little help from his apprehensive siblings, we gave Donny the best birthday present to date. Now you can see the treefort-esque platform from I-43 and if you’re lucky, in summer you may even catch a glimpse of Donny flying across the pond at lightning speed.

We had a couple “firsts” on the farm this spring. The first “first” was that we successfully incubated and hatched our own chicks. That was a trip. After 21 days of faithfully turning and rotating and monitoring the eggs (not me, Donny!) three little chicks emerged from their shells. They now dwell among the flocks doing their job to provide eggs for my breakfast! The second “first” was the addition of ducks to our flock. “Scott” and “Walker” were beautiful white Peking ducks that I’m pretty sure thought they were chickens. But can you blame them? They grew up with 2 dozen baby chicks and followed them around day and night.

Sometime in early summer a baby kitten found his way to our farm. “Olive IV” is now the latest addition to our menagerie of animals. Reggie, Lola and Amos now have something else to bark at and chase, and Olive is one affectionate, loveable little cat-he will also help cut down on the rodent population at the farm: win-win! Summer also brought a plethora of fresh veggies right from our ground. Donny labored for what seemed to be an endless amount of hours in his garden, and it paid off. We had fresh squash, zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes, sunflowers, eggplant, Swiss chard, strawberries, green and yellow beans-which all make delicious side dishes for farm raised, corn-fed, free-range chicken! Mmm mmm. I, personally, will never have any part in butchering those chickens, but let me tell you-that is GOOD chicken. I will never be opposed to eating it!

Most recently, the farmer—and self-proclaimed venture capitalist—decided that it was time to dive into the world of Coin Laundry. What?!? Yep, we bought a Laundromat. We are now the proud owners of Mukwonago Coin Laundry. So, if you’re ever out on Hwy 83 in Mukwonago and have a load of laundry that you need to get cleaned, pop on over to Mukwonago Coin Laundry.  Jack has been a big help, he thinks going to the Laundromat is like the most fun thing ever – and it’s provided a great conversation starter over the past month…I mean how many people can end that awkward silence at a dinner party with … “So…I bought a Laundromat!”?

Jack is 2 now and growing like a weed. He knows all his letters and has been working on his counting-right now we’re focusing on the fact that “eleven-teen” is not actually a number. Jack always gives us a reason to smile; he’s making us laugh non-stop. He loves a good bed-time story –on his reading list right now: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  He prays almost daily for Lightning McQueen and is always thankful for Macaroni and Cheese. His favorite Green Bay Packer is Jermichael Finley and we’re hoping for another Super Bowl victory in 2012!

Reflecting on the year always helps me realize how blessed I really am. This Christmas we’re focusing on the manger and the greatest gift of all, the birth of our Savior –Jesus Christ.  The message from our farm to your home this year is “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”- hoping the light of Christ shines brightly in your homes this Christmas season.

Merry Christmas, from the farm!
Angela (for Donny and Jack, Reggie, Lola, Amos & Olive IV)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bah Humbug.

So the other day I was at the mall-just minding my own business, shopping with my son. When I encountered one of those old ladies who decides it's within her rights to offer very rude and inappropriate parenting tips. Until now, all I have is read about these people in magazines and on blogs-never had I actually crossed paths with one of these people. I seriously can't imagine someone seriously being that rude, seriously! Well folks. It's true, they are really out there. There really are old ladies that really think they really know more than you, really! It's un-be-lieve-able!

So I'm strolling Jack along in Kohl's minding my own business and Jack decides he's going to put his finger down and touch the wheels of his stroller. So I stopped and asked him to stop-and he looked at me, kind of smiled and kept doing it. So (this creepy old lady watching on) I said "No, no buddy, I don't want you to hurt your fingers! Please stop" and Jack looked up at me ready to sit back in his stroller when the old creep chimmed in "Not to mention how dirty those are! He almost put his finger in his mouth!"

Now up until this point I had watched her the whole time out of the corner of my eye, thinking 'Lady, there's nothing to see here...keep moving!' And when she spoke up I half thought she was kidding. But here comes the kicker. I said "Ok Jack that's enough, sit back." And he listened and just as we started to stroll on our way she had the audacity to say "I would strap him in, that's for sure."

OH snap! (Note: you have to imagine this lady sounding snarly and grumpy otherwise this really doesn't seem that bad, but seriously she thought she was like taking me to school on how to parent) I cheerfully replied "Thank you, but I DON'T need your parenting advice." OH but my blood was boiling. I kept going but every fiber in my being wanted to turn around, hunt that lady down and ask her why for heaven's sake it mattered to her! I mean for real? Why does she care. Why do people find it necessary to impose their thoughts about what is right and wrong. I mean I'm not gonna lie, I've seen many a parent in the store that I wanted to give the low-down on how to be a better parent. But do I? NO!

All I have to say is I bet that lady was a democrat.

She ruined my already ridiculous day, and Jack and I headed home, defeated and crabby. Praise the Lord for mercy and new days. We woke up on Wednesday refreshed and ready to conquer the world. And we did. Christmas shopping done, cookies and candies baked, bulletins printed and now on to the festivities!

Apologies to my friends and family, they will be getting their Christmas cards after Christmas this year-but definitely before New Years! After I mail everything off, I will post our picture and my letter on my blog. I want to give everyone a chance to get it in the mail before I post.

Merry Christmas everyone. Blessings to you and yours as you celebrate this joyful season!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mommy Insomnia

Well, it's 12:48 am and I was laying in bed with a coughing toddler in the other room (our walls are like paper) and a snoring steamboat lying next to me (the farmer). Ever since I started blogging, my mind thinks in blog posts. It's ridiculous. All I could think about was what I would blog about if I had the chance. So here I sit.

I've been dreaming up a new blog I'd like to start. I think I would call it High Fashion on a Low Budget. My sister somewhat put me up to it. But since I've become addicted to Pintrest and all the cute fashioney things that are now pinned on my boards, I have wanted so badly to thrift and create those high fashion looks with my really small budget. So I think I"m going to try that...maybe that will be next week's project.

Also, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, Christmas will be here before we know it. Yikes! My brain has also been thinking in "Christmas Letter". The first year I did a letter it came so naturally to me, the things I wrote about, my "style" and I even got a number of sincere compliments from people saying they really enjoyed it. That just put the pressure on to top myself the next year and the year after that. So with another letter approaching, I have started to feel that "pressure" to top myself once again.

So my brain is on over-drive and there's no way that sleep is in my near future. As the millions of thoughts raced through my head, I was reminded of a sweet friend's status on Facebook today..."Can't sleep? Instead of counting sheep, why not talk to the Shepherd." All I can say is wow. What a great reminder; thanks, Kayla. So I'm signing off to go pray and be with the "Shepherd" because we all know that counting sheep just never works.

Good Night. ♥

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Endless Shrimp

I had a delightful date night with the farmer tonight.

We dined on shrimp until our bellies could take no more. It was delicious! I can't remember the last time I was at Red Lobster. Our waitress was wonderful. My margarita was gigantic and my toddler was well-cared for at Grandma Sharon's. We even snagged a couple "to-go" boxes with shrimp for tomorrow! Now, time for some snuggling over the Office re-runs on channel 18. That's what I call the perfect end to a perfect date night.

Good Night, from the farm.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chili Cook-Off

Fall is a great time for things like hay rides, square dancing, flannel shirts, carving pumpkins and Church Chili Cook-Offs. New Hope Community Church has been hosting an annual Chili Cook Off since before I was a member. I could ask the farmer exactly how many years, but he's not around. Anyways-for a long time. I never ate chili growing up (my mom hates it) let alone cooked my very own batch. But, for some reason, when you're a Spielman you just automatically want to do everything (or maybe it's just me?) Seriously, I always want to do everything-would that be considered a character flaw?

Anyways...I got married in the summer of 2007 and that very fall, I entered my first Chili Cook-Off @ NHCC. That year I'll admit, I sort of cheated, I just browned some ground beef and added a whole bunch of cans of "Hunt's Chili Sauce" it had all the tomatoes and seasonings right there for ya, just pour it in and let it simmer. I added some elbow macaroni to give it my own little twist, but that was about it! Surprisingly I got like the "Unofficial 3rd Place". Technically there's only 1st & 2nd awarded, but I had the next most votes. Not bad for never having cooked chili in my life! At the tender age of 21, a newly wed and fresh off a move to our 2nd home-- I was very pleased with my success.

Then 2008 rolled around, we were in another new house, I had one year under my belt and I was feeling good. I actually got a recipe this time and made the chili from scratch. The title of the recipe was "No Beans About It" I hated beans so that sounded wonderful to me! This year I added some corn for color and headed off to the chili cook off. I don't recall how many votes I got that year-2008-2009 kind of blend together in my memory. Anyways...it was a good time just as years past - great chili, good friends, square dancing and fellowship.

Then 2009 came. Now I had not one, but TWO years of Chili Cook-Off experience. I was like an old pro. No lie, we were in yet another new house (!) and this year my secret ingredient was bacon. Who doesn't love bacon? I mean really, bacon makes everything better. That should be pig farmers' slogan- "Bacon makes everything better. Period." I added some beans this year to give it texture and I was happy with the results. And for the second time I got "Unoffical 3rd" but again, I was satisfied. I only cook chili once a year, and this was only the 3rd year I'd ever made chili in my life-so for 3 times, not bad.

And 2010. (finally, same house) The year it all came together. I tried another new recipe this year. Bacon was good, but didn't do the trick. The canned stuff was fine, but still - not champion material. I needed something new, different. So I went to the only place I knew of to inspire greatness....GOOGLE. I googled chili recipes and poured over recipe after recipe. Then I found it. I was going over a recipe when in the comments section I read "I used this in my local chili cook off and won 1st Place." Done. That was the one I was going to use. It had salsa as the "secret" ingredient. MMmm, that sounded delicious. And that folks, was all it took. Some salsa, black and pinto beans and some 80/20 ground beef (and some seasonings of course). I took home the Chili Trophey last year and going into this year's Chili Cook Off I am the reigning Chili Queen!

And today (yay! still same house), I have 3 crock-pots full of chili simmering in my kitchen, my table decorations and accessories all packed up and I'm ready to head to my 5th Chili Cook Off. It's funny because we're so not chili eaters, the Chili Cook Off is literally the only time of the year we eat chili and it gives us our chili fill for the entire year! I'm not overly excited about my chili this year. I sort of just made up my own recipe -- since I have waayyy too much confidence in my chili cooking capabilities (winning will do that for you) and to be honest, I'm not too impressed with it. If I get some votes, I will be happy. I really don't think this year's chili is 1st place material. Oh well, I guess there's always next year.

I wonder what it would be like to just go to the chili cook off, and not cook chili - just eat everyone elses? Hmm, that would probably be way too easy.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Never in a Million Years

Today actually defined the epitome of this blog. The farmer sent me on a shopping trip for chicken feed. So I packed up the kiddo and headed down to Mukwonago in my BMW clad in my LC by Lauren Conrad sweater, furry boots and my mis-matchy oh-so-fashionably accessorized scarf and picked up some Layer Crumble. Now if that doesn't scream Farmer's Wife Livin' the City Life, then I don't know what does. I honestly never-in-a-million-years would have ever pinned myself as the girl who would be loading chicken feed into the trunk of my Beamer.

I was tempted to pick up a John Deere scarf and socks when I was there- but fortunately I resisted. Now that would have been crossing the line!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Shoe good to be true!

I fell upon MAJOR shoe good fortune today. As I was running errands, waiting for something to be made up for me at Office Max, Jack - in his infinite wisdom - asked me if we could go to Target! Oh do I know how to raise 'em! Just needing to waste a few minutes before we had to go pick up our order at Office Max, I quickly hit the shoe aisle (the clearance section, of course) and I stumbled upon these beauties. Yep, you're reading that right, $3.74-yes please. Even better news- they had my size! (which almost NEVER happens)


Then I got giddy when I saw these, hardly believing they'd have a 9. For some reason, these cute little ones usually only have like 11s and 5 1/2s left. One extreme or the other. And when I do happen to stumble upon a 9 it's usually because someone put them back in the wrong spot, or they're only 30% off (and I never pay retail or more than 50% off - unless I'm desperate) Things just kept getting better, I found a 9!
More good news:
75% off. Sold.

Wow, what a great day. Not to mention this final pair of keepers I picked up on Tuesday:
Online Item, returned - $8.48. Please and Thank you. You can see they're already scuffed a little, I've worn them almost a half dozen times since Tuesday (if that's even possible)

Put this week down in the books as "shoe good to be true". I came up with that all myself! Now I'm excited to hit the thrift stores next week (with some store credit that's burning a hole in my wallet) to find some coordinating threads for my new fall shoe collection. Money well-spent.

3 Pairs of Shoes < $20.00 = 1 Happy Shopper
The End.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Date Night

Started this Tuesday evening and never posted ... it's too cute not to share though!

With Donny gone off to a Boy's Night, Jack and I cozied up to a cute movie {Fox and the Hound} a big bowl of popcorn {homemade, of course} and had ourselves a fun little date night!

I forgot how sad the Fox and the Hound was, but it was cute...aside from some of the shooting scenes, although it was hunting- a sport, not murder. All in all, a fun, cute date night with my little man!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dress Dilemma

Weddings are so fun. I love the ceremony, the dinner and mostly the dancing-and of course celebrating with dear friends the joining of their lives as husband and wife. It's funny because whether it's your wedding, a friends wedding, whether you're standing up in the wedding or it's just an acquaintance getting married - what you wear can be completely stress-inducing. {at least for women, it is}

I am so excited to dress up, go on a date with my hubby and be toddler-less for an entire evening (thanks to some good friends who agreed to take Jack overnight). All while celebrating a wonderful event with two dear friends and family members.

Now I have a dilemma. In all my thriftiness, I picked up a really cute plain black dress from Target a couple months ago for $6.98. Enter brand new (tags-on) shoes from Goodwill for $4.99 and some shnazzy feather earrings and I have a completely cute wedding outfit for less than $20.00. But then I decided that maybe I want to try on a dress I've had in my closet-here comes the dilemma. Now I'm just not sure...so I have about 23 hours to decide. And so far the Farmer has been no help. When asked what he thought he said "they're OK" - wow, thanks for that inspiration.

Brown or Black?

On a more exciting note, the brown dress at the left I haven't worn in over two years, its a size 6 and it still fits! In my book, that is one post-baby victory worth bragging about!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Silly Jealousy

I had the silliest jealousy today when I was eating lunch at Noodles & Co. in New Berlin with the cutest 2-year-old on earth.

I saw this super cool family eating lunch on the "patio" outside of the restaurant. There was a mom, a dad and a son (the cutest kind of families). They {in their ultimate coolness} had ordered lunch at Noodles, walked down to the Starbucks and ordered their favorite Frappuccinos to accompany their pasta dishes. All I could say was WOW. How cool is that?

I'm slightly jealous because this kind of awesome lunch date will never happen in our family, just simply because my husband, the farmer, despises coffee and anything to do with Starbucks. Bummer. Oh well, I tried to live vicariously through them while I watched them in sadness.

It was still a fun day, I shared a WI Mac n Cheese with chicken breast with my favorite 2-year-old. Headed to Target and then played at the park on what was another fantastic October day! Wow this weather is awesome.

All-in-all no complaints, just hoping someday not only could we afford (because if you think about it 3 noodles dishes and 3 frappuccinos probably cost between $30 & $40-YIKES!) but that the farmer would find a way to enjoy a yummy {coffee free} Frappuccino over some delish Noodles & Co...in my opion the best fast food combination out there!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Little Things

On this beautiful Thursday in October, I have been reminded again and again to be thankful for little things and how abundantly I am blessed. Today has been full of blessings, small ones, but blessings nonetheless...and I'm so thankful the Lord has been intentionally pointing them out to me because on any other day I may have missed them:
  1. We got to spend this beautiful fall morning playing at an awesome park with great friends.
  2. Got to wish a sweet old friend a happy 70th birthday and hear Jack wish her a happy birthday (which is always super cute)
  3. When I told Jack it was time to come inside after playing he simply replied "Ok, Mamma" and got out of his Cozy Coupe and followed me in the house. No fuss, no fight - just obedience! (Praise the Lord)
  4. Jack at a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich! He usually refuses sandwiches and only eats things for lunch that require time and preperation (ie macaroni, chicken nuggets, etc) So eating a sandwich today was a small victory in the ongoing "what-to-eat-for-lucnh" war.
  5. I took a jog with Jack-which I was too tired and lazy to do, but forced myself to anyways. Now I feel great, and Jack is sound asleep in his bed.
This day reminds me to be more intentional about seeking out the blessings in my life and not get caught up in the little struggles that seem to burden my spirit from time-to-time. I serve such a wonderful, powerful, loving God and He reminds me daily of His perfect love.

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances ; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Midnight Snack

Here on the farm, we don't take our Midnight Snacks lightly...litereally.

We just finished eating a full breakfast and it's 10 minutes to Midnight. Hmmm, that can't be good for my waistline. I'll just consider my 1.25 mile run today for nothing :(

We got home from Bible study tonight, not having eaten a full meal before we left the house and by 10pm Donny and I were both starving. We rummaged around and Donny decided that scrambled eggs and hash sounded good. So, an hour and a half later, here I sit - blogging over my cup of coffee, perfectly flavored with 1/2 and 1/2 and just a pinch of raw sugar, and a piece of cinnamon toast (in my opinion, the perfect breakfast dessert!) Although I did toy with the idea of my dad's famous chocolate milk and brown-sugar toast ... but we have no Hershey's syrup (note to self: add Hershey's syrup to the shopping list)

So tonight, our midnight snack [or perhaps-- more appropriate, our "bedtime snack"] consisted of country style hash browns, sauteed onions and green peppers, bacon and scrambled cheesy eggs. MMmmm MMMmmm! Good stuff. The eggs were farm fresh, of course! Now if only I could churn my own butter...

Sweet dreams!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Slight Obsession

So I discovered I may have a slight obsession with blue jeans. I was trying to find a pair to wear and when I was digging through my pile I decided it would be fun to fold and stack them all up.

Bad News: I think I'm obsessed
Good News: Most of them are designer and I paid NO WHERE near retail for them!

Thanks to good-ole Goodwill, a lot of them I paid only $4.99 for! (1 pair of Guess jeans from Goodwill I did splurge and pay $8.99 for-TOTALLY worth it.)

I've tried telling myself when I enter Goodwill that I do not need to look at the jeans because I have a zillion pair, but somehow I always leave with at least 2 new pairs. But I mean, really-who can resist designer jeans for $4.99 or less?

Shopping Tip: Sunday and Monday (at my local Goodwill, at least) are 50% off tag days. I always try to go on one of these days. The color tag changes each week but whatever you can find with a certain color pricetag  is 50% off! So that means some of my jeans I only paid $2.50 for!! Now that's what I call a great deal!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Work in Progress

Well, I attempted another makeover with one of my thrift-store finds. I'm not entirely pleased with it, but thought I would share anyways. Here's the creepy picture I bought at Goodwill for $4.99 (I was feeling generous, afterall we are "Supporting the Mission") I don't think this thing was worth that...but I know it's hard to find large frames for cheap, so I caved. I thought it had hidden potential, now I'm not so sure.  

 Creepy...right? I mean really...

Like I said, I had high hopes, thought there was major hidden potential with the frame (not the picture, of course) So disected it, got rid of the creepy kiddos and besides the weird old lady smell I was pretty excited. Well I painted it black, and got really excited about Modge Podge and that pretty floral paper I used on my side table...Ya know that saying "too much of a good thing" well, I think that applies here. 

Talk about way too much floral. That line I talked about in my last post between country and old-lady...I've officially crossed it! So back to the drawing board. I did come up with an interim solution because the flowers were creeping me out (not quite as much as the weird little kids) and so this is where I am...

And so, here's to figuring out what I'm going to do with my no-so-cute frame. But hey, it's better than what I started with...I'm sure I'll come up with something. Play-date in the morning, maybe I'll talk to my sister-in-law crafting genius, I bet she'll have a fabulous idea for it!

GOOD NIGHT! Happy crafting. ♥Angela

Thursday, September 22, 2011

From Drab to Fab!

 Goodwill is one of my new obsessions. I'm a crazy shopper who has a husband who's crazy about sticking to a budget, so Goodwill has helped us to meet somewhere in the middle. I buy most of my clothes and shoes there, I absolutely buy all Donny's clothes there because the things he wears he ruins and I figure if he doesn't like it, I didn't waste a ton of money on it! Best of both worlds. I have been starting to venture out into purchasing items for home decor at Goodwill. I'm pretty cautious because I do like to have a "country" feel to my home, but I really don't want to cross the line into old lady/grandma. The great thing about Goodwill is you can buy something hideous and old and make it into something trendy and new! I'm just beginning my crafting journey, although I've always enjoyed doing crafts and making things with my hands...I've never really gotten into it from a decorating perspective. For some reason, I've just been feeling extra inspired recently. It probably has a lot to do with my sister-in-law, who's a crafting genious and always has something new and adorable in her home that she made! So anyways...I think my first attempt to re-make one of my thrift-store finds turned out pretty fabulous!

ENTER: old, warn side table {$6.99}

This little guy caught my eye as soon as I saw it! It had quite a bit of wear, but tons of charm and for $6.99-you can't go wrong! (I have found that Goodwill can be weird with their prices, for instance today I had my eye on  a couple of matching little wooden frames that couldn't have been bigger than 4x6 and they wanted $3.99 each for them-which I think is a crime, I probably wouldn't have paid more than $0.99 for them...so if you want a good deal be careful about the pricetag-even at Goodwil!)

A few crafting supplies (some of which I even had laying around the house) and a new drawer pull from World Market {love that store} and I had a totally new table that will look fantastic in my country-kitchen!

Sanded and spray painted the whole table {FREE}
I found my hubby's stash of spray paint in the barn -SCORE

Modge-podged the drawer front & bottom shelf with a pretty pattern scrap-book paper from JoAnn's {$1.18}
I only had to buy the paper, only needed 2 whole sheets, the Modge Podge I had left over from a past project

New drawer pull from World Market {$3.99}
I debated using the old hardward from the peice, but I figured I had so little invested in this project, I could spring for a fancy matching pull-and SO glad I did, it turned out fab

Total Investment {$12.16}

Now I'll be searching my local thrift stores for an old pitcher in a pattern that compliments the floral pattern on the table. Wishing now that I could go through some of my Grandma Nordlie's things because I just know she would have something that would go perfectly with this table!

Until next time (which judging by my previous post could be a while) happy thrifting! Farewell from the farm...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Brought to you by the Letter J & the Number 2

Well, Jack's birthday weekend was a success. He's officially two, the world didn't come to an end and he enjoyed every-last-minute of birthday-boy stardom. Saturday was a special mommy-son bonding day, daddy was gone all day at a softball tournament out of town. Not that I enjoy when my husband is away, but this was a perfect weekend for that tournament. When I clean and get the house ready for things, I like to do things at my own pace, and with other people around I feel too much pressure. Jack and I ran errands early in the morning on Saturday, had a special lunch and Jose's Blue Sombrero, I baked and frosted Sesame Street characters until I was blue in the face, Jack helped me unload and reload the dishwasher, we cleaned up and set-up for the party. It was a perfect Saturday, shopping, good food, and at the end of the day, a clean house. What more could a woman want?

My knack for decorating cakes is somewhat of a family affair. My grandmother on my dad's side was a baker by trade. She made special birthday cakes for me and my sister and our cousins, she baked and decorated cakes for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and any other occasion you would need a cake for. She was a pro. When she passed away I acquired a few of her shaped pans including oscar the grouch, bert and ernie, strawberry shortcake, a smurf (which could come in handy again sometime soon...) among others. I took a Wilton Cake Decorating class at JoAnn's a couple of years ago and it has been fun to use the cake pans that my grandma used to use.

Cake Decorating 101
Start with shaped cake. I purchased Elmo for about $7.00 ($13.99 with 50% coupon at Michaels). The cake pretty much directs you in how to decorate it. And if you are still not sure, http://www.wilton.com/ has PDF files of all cakes, baking instructions, pictures to help you know what colors, even step by step instructions including which decorating tips to use when piping the frosting. It's a cake bakers best friend!

Lots of buttercream frosting. Wilton has a great recipe and the good news is you can get all the ingredients relatively inexpensively (notice a pattern?).
4 c powdered sugar
1/2 c butter
1/2 c vegetable shortening
1 tsp clear vanilla extract (Wilton)
2 tbsp milk

*to thin frosting use 1-2 tsp of light corn syrup

For Elmo and Bert and Ernie, I made two batches of this recipe.

My favorite appliance. Well, maybe not really-but it for sure is when I'm baking! Kitchen-Aid mixers are a luxury, I never thought I would actually own one, but luckily I have a generous mom who knows I love to bake! I put this bad boy to work this weekend, and it did not disappoint.

White buttercream frosting. MMmm! Just needs a splash of color. Wilton makes great gel frosting dyes in pretty much every hue possible. For the black frosting I bought a tube of Wiltons pre-mixed, pre-colored frosting. You would have to add so much gel color to homemade frosting that it would taste too bitter to eat. For intense colors like red or black, I always purchase Wilton's pre-made frosting colors. ($1.50 at Walmart-or Michaels with a coupon!)

Finished product. For Elmo, I frosted him white and used Wilton spray frosting color. Then went back in with the tube of black to fill in the mouth. Piped on the nose using the #5 tip and actually just used my finger for the eyes. Elmo took about 20 minutes to decorate-piece of cake (no pun intended).

Bert and Ernie. I am bummed because I didn't really take a picture of the Bert and Ernie cake by itself. This was the best one I could find. I piped all of Bert and Ernie using the #18 decorating tip. For the star-fill-in method the #16 tip is recommended but I was being lazy and the #18 tip is a slightly bigger star, taking up more room therefore less stars have to be piped. I was happy with how it turned out! I bought all the decorating tips I needed for these two cakes (#3, #5, #16 & #18) in a set at Walmart (by Wilton) for $3.00 - they also have all the gel coloring, spray color and disposable piping bags available in their cake decroating aisle.

So Sesame Street birthday was a success. Great cakes, great company, great reason for celebrating. Jack is so blessed, he received so many wonderful gifts and we were so blessed to share this special day with our closest family and friends.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bittersweet Birthdays

This week is a bittersweet week for me. At the end of it (well actually at the beginning of next week) my little guy will be turning 2! I seriously cannot fathom how this is possible. I did manage to do one thing well, I kept a journal all throughout my pregnancy and so at times like these, I enjoy going back through my entries and reading about what was going on 2 years ago. From about July 20th until I actually went into labor, I prayed faithfully each night that it would be "the night". I was so done being pregnant at about 36 weeks. Praise the Lord he didn't make me go a day past my due date, yes, I was one of the 5% of women who go into labor on their due date. Lucky me. It would have been luckier if I had actually given birth on my due date. But God had bigger plans. 22-hours-in-labor bigger plans. Ha. Oh well. It was worth it, every second.

Reading through my journal entries is such a trip. 2 years ago today, August 3 2009 I journaled about crampy, shooting pains in my abdomen. I wrote "I still don't think it's labor. This is why I really wish my water would break, or something SUPER OBVIOUS (I actually wrote in all caps) would happen" Things like this make me smile because God is so faithful. He knew how nervous I was about not getting to the hospital on time, and that I wouldn't know what labor was. My water broke, that is how I knew I was in labor. God sure does have a sense of humor though, I definitely had plenty of time to get to the hospital. ..."today was my first official day off of work...our internet got installed and I put together my new desk chair-desk/computer are tomorrow's projects-along with grocery shopping, cleaning the kitchen and finishing more laundry." This makes me laugh because anyone who knows me knows that I hate cleaning, and if you know me really well you know that my house is rarely clean unless there is a larege gathering or something planned at my house. I mean was this nesting or what? Three days before I went into labor I was cleaning and organizing like crazy.

Then the last little tidbit I'll share from this journal entry was my favorite part I wrote..."and now the baby has hiccups ♥" I drew a heart next to it :) Being pregnant was so wonderful. Don't get me wrong it was horrible in it's own way, but seriously there is nothing like growing a human. It's a miracle, a mystery, a blessing. One of those things that makes you sure that there's a God who loves you watching over everything. I just said at dinner with friends last night, every once-in-a-while I'll get a gas bubble and still think there's a baby moving in my belly. No lie, the baby is approaching 2-years-old and I feel like I can still feel him moving around in the womb. Maybe I'm crazy--I'm definitely NOT pregnant, so don't get any ideas--or maybe that's just God's little way of reminding me of life's precious miracles.

Back to the baby being 2. Talk about time flies when you're having fun. Being a mom has brought new challenges to life, new fears to reality but mostly just joy. Jack makes me laugh daily, he says the sweetest things. He is going to be a very thoughtful little boy. He LOVES to wrestle, crash his cars and play in the mud-he is all boy. He also loves to draw, sing, and snuggle. I'm getting a lump in my throat just writing this. I've begun to learn the importance of Proverbs 22:6 "train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" Everything I say, do and participate in affects this child and his thinking. So moving into this 3rd year of Jack's life, Proverbs 22:6 will be my motto to keep me motivated when the going gets tough-as I'm sure it will get tough.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pity Party

I just found myself indulging in a moment of self-pity. I feel like as a mom/wife/waitress, if I'm not at home waiting on and constantly taking care of toddlers and husbands (not as if I have more than one, sometimes it just feels like it!), I'm at work where at least I'm paid to take care of people, but I'm nonetheless waiting on more people. Although, those of you who have worked in the service industry can understand this, sometimes no amount money is worth having some "guests". There are always those dredded customers that you just want to leave, you could careless about the tip-you just need them gone! Anyways that is neither here nor there

... I just found myself feeling sorry for myself because when I'm not taking care of people at home, I'm taking care of them at work. And I know I'm not the only one that does this, there are countless teachers, nurses, doctors, fellow waiters, -and the list goes on- that can identify with me on this one. All I'm saying is I selfishly need a break. So here's to some me-time. Going to the store today with NO toddlers and NO husbands.

Isaiah 51:11
...Gladness and joy will overtake them,
   and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Praise God for constantly giving me peace and reassurance that not my will, but His will be done.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Late Nights

I've always been a night owl. Since I can remember I would stay up forever just listening to my walkman. Eventually it became my Discman, and now it's either youtube while I'm working on the computer or my MP3 player while I'm laying in bed. Man, talk about a creature of habit.

Here I sit working into the wee hours of the morning and I am so enjoying some peace and music. My current playlist consists of :

Run this Town, Jay-Z feat. Rihanna
Rehab, Rihanna feat. Justin Timberlake
California King Bed, Rihanna
Pray, Justin Bieber
One Time, Justin Bieber
Never Say Never, Justin Bieber feat. Jayden Smith
Eenie Meenie, Justin Bieber

...hmmm, see a pattern anyone? As a kid it was Hanson, then the Backstreet Boys. Before I had any good casette tapes to listen to I would listen to FM 106 on the radio. Innovation has brought us so far, I used to have to either pick one CD, make a mix, or bring that big bulky book with all my cds in it out. To imagine we can now cram thousands of songs onto one little chip. Crazy.

Anyways, back to my Alterra coffee, "Take a Bow" by Rihanna. She's awesome. And Bieber Fever has infected me. Donny listens to Miley Cyrus, I'm allowed some Bieber-it's only fair.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Before and After

I was looking through a Facebook album of photos and I found the one on the left. YIKES! I got a sudden burst of pride for losing close to 80 lbs since that one was taken! Pregnancy seriously took a toll on my body, and that would be an understatement. But I would be lying if I said I wished it didn't happen, that boy on the right was worth every pound and worth every struggle to lose those extra pounds. I'm not where I want to be, but I'm proud of where I am with my weight. I probably should run a little more, and eat a little healthier but I know one thing for sure, I NEVER want to weigh 224 lbs again.

...well I guess I would make an exception for twin girls...

This is a before and after for the record books of my life! Not really Biggest Loser material, but darn close.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Family Camping Weekend in Pictures

 Jack and Caleb hanging out while the mommy's and daddy's set-up camp! Jack looks slightly more excited about the idea of camping than his dear cousin, Caleb.

The older boys were ready to swim! Thanks to Grandma Sharon, all the kids had lots of toys to swim with.

Donny and Morgan, attempting to fix Grandpa Don's new fan, while Jack looks on, wanting to help.

Stacking the innertubes on Morgan proved to be a very entertaining game-for everyone!

Brooke wanted to be part of the fun.

An annual camping tradition. 2 years ago it started when Melissa and I were majorly pregnant with our now 2-year-old boys, Jack and Caleb. This will be a tradition until they have their own wives and children, whether they like it or not!

Family Photo: easier said than done. But good enough.

Jack would swim all day if he could.

Perfect shot of Caleb. Cute little blondie.

Picture of Jack and Mommy: impossible. This was as close as we got.

Picture of Jack and Daddy: close, but no cigar.

Buddies since birth, literally. They love each other and it's so sweet to watch them play together.

Girlfriends, who just happen to be cousins. Hailey and Morgan will always share a close bond. Two of the sweetest 5-year-olds you'll ever know.

Photo of 8 kids under the age of 7. Not bad.

Put your arms up if you're a Spielman!

For a second, no one was watching Jack and he actually just floated out on his little innertube way farther than he should have been. No worries though, we got him safely back to shore.

Probably my least favorite part of this camping trip^ Jack woke up Saturday morning covered in some type of bug bites. Not a single one of us had mosquito bite or had even seen a mosquito for that matter so we're not really sure what happened. But something was in his bed biting him continually. His legs, arms, face and neck were covered in these little red bumps. Poor kiddo has been scratching them raw-but was surprisingly upbeat despite this unfortunate turn of events.

Two little buddies playing in the sand. Pretty self-explanitory.

Boys will be boys-always playing with toys.

All packed up and heading for home. We didn't even get off the camp grounds before Jack fell asleep.
Lots of swimming, sand-castle-building, running, splashing, and camping in general will zonk you out faster than you can say Black Hawk Lake.

Family camping was a success. Jack had a great time with all his cousins, we enjoyed some fun family fellowship and lots of good food. The only thing I'm going to try to do better next year is taking more pictures. There is so much we did that I didn't capture-and I enjoy comparing pictures from year-to-year and I took way more pictures last year. Luckily we have years and years ahead of fun family camp-outs.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Camping We Will Go

Another annual family camping trip has snuck up on me. Unlike years past, I'm completely unprepared. My first camping experience ever was horrible, I hated every second of it. Since that fateful trip almost 5 years ago now, I have learned the ins and outs of camping and have equipped myself with simple tools that help me enjoy camping to the fullest. I have a 5-page check list that every year about a week before camping I pull out, check off what I have and shop for what I don't. If I have everything I could ever possibly need and more, I love camping. I feel secure in knowing there's nothing that I don't have and I can fully enjoy myself.

I'm not sure what the deal is this year. It's 11:30. We're leaving in 2 hours and I haven't packed a single thing. I pulled my list off last night and have only glanced at it. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe I'm finally comfortable with the idea of camping and if I don't have everything and the kitchen sink I will survive! my family can attest that my organization during camping is somewhat superhuman. I'm not an organizational freak by nature, however when it comes to camping i suddenly morph into an OCD overly-organized nut.

(short break to start the packing process)

...it's official, I'm a seasoned camper. I just knocked out 60% of my list in a 1/2 hour. I just realized that I'm entirely not sure why camping preperation had to be such a production. And reading over my list is actually quite comical. It has headings and sub headings, bullet points, boxes to check off, things are double and triple accounted for (afterall, what would I do if I forgot the spray butter?) I mean seriously, I would be embarassed to publish this list. It is beyond excessive.

And with that, I will sign off to finish off the remaining 40% of my list. T minus 1 hour til lift off. Black Hawk Lake or bust!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's All Greek 2 Me

So blogging for me is one of those things that I've always wanted to do, but just never actually sat down and did. So here goes nothing. I'm not really sure what you're supposed to blog about, I mean obviously happenings in your life, recipes, pictures, yada yada yada. But I'm just not sure anyone cares. Then again I love to read blogs and have found myself indulging more and more in reading blogs of people that I know and those of total, complete strangers. I really have found to enjoy it, and so here I sit, attempting a blog of my own.

The title may seem a little extreme to some. We are anything but your typical farmers. My husband, Donny enjoys raising his chickens, tending to his garden, and caring for the landscape. I guess among the qualifications of living on a farm, the barn is probably one of the most obvious. Though we have yet to house livestock, the barn is a unique feature of our property. It sits among the pond, the 3+ acres of woods, 2 creek, gardens and chicken coop on our beautiful 7 acre plot out here in New Berlin. New Berlin's little motto is actually "City living with a touch of country" and that is the best way I can describe my life. Well put, New Berlin.

Donny and his garden - a labor of love.

I am NOT a farmer. My time outside is often spent sunning myself, floating on the pond, grilling our dinner or taking a late-night jog with Lola. I do selfishly enjoy harvesting the yummy fruits and vegetables that Donny labors so hard to grow. In fact, today was the first harvest of the growing season. I picked a whole bunch of summer squash and zucchini that we will be enjoying on our annual family camping trip this weekend in Black Hawk Lake, WI.

The first harvest. Grilling instructions: Slice or cube, wrap in foil, season with E.V.O.O. and garlic salt, fold foil closed, poke with fork for vent. Grill 10-15 minutes or until tender. Serve with your favorite grilled protien. Yum.

Now what do you get when you cross a self-proclaimed farmer with his city-life-loving wife? You get one crazy little kid. Jack is our almost 2-year-old son (tear.) who has got it made. He has a pond to swim in, three dogs to play with, chickens to chase, fresh veggies to eat (I wish) and oh so much room to run and play. I swear he would play outside until he plain fell over from exhaustion. I usually have to bribe him into the house with a Wiggles DVD. He's the easiest-going 2-year-old that I know. Sleeps until atleast 9am, naps for 2 1/2 hours a day, hardly ever cries, prays before every meal and before bed and before nap, so far is very polite and the kid always has a smile on his face. (Hmmm, proud mommy much?) What can I say, he's the perfect kid.

If you asked me 10--no 5--years ago if I would be living on a "farm" I would have laughed in your face and called you crazy. I think Donny may have even laughed in your face. Yet here we are, living the dream-on our own little farm. And I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have it any other way.

Well, for my first blog post ever, I feel pretty accomplished. I even figured out how to get pictures on here. Way- to-go me.