Friday, January 31, 2014

In the Kitchen with Gram...Super Nachos!

Boy, sure has been awhile since Gram and I have had the chance to hang out and cook! I was missing her! Gram had the idea to do her Super Nachos, in time for the big game on Sunday!

Truth be told, I couldn't give a rat's hind-end about the Super Bowl. Except, I think it's kinda cool that a kid I've watched play high school football is one of the stars! None other than Eric Decker himself (and my, oh my, has he turned out to be a fine young man). ;) My little bro played football against Eric...he wasn't a defensive player (he also was a receiver), but they'd put him in to cover Decker 'cuz he was the only one that could possibly keep up to him!

And now Eric is a big ol' football star with a pretty little country singer wife and a reality show. Crazy what life can bring for a small town Minnesota boy!

I digress...back to the NACHOS!! Yum.

Super easy and incredibly delicious!

Brown some hamburger.



Add some onion.


And as many "shakes" of Tabasco as you can handle!



While your beef mixture is simmering away (after the Tabasco, it's pretty much done), spread some refried beans in the bottom of a shallow, oven-safe dish.



Then add the beef on top of that:


Sprinkle on some green chilies and then pop it in the oven.



Now, here's where we "lived and learned"...we put the cheese on with about 10 minutes to spare and it didn't take it long, once it was out of the oven, for the cheese to get all tough and gloppy. Gram remembered this "problem" from when she made these before, but it's been awhile, so she forgot until she saw the tough, gloppy cheese again. Next time we'd put the cheese on just out of the oven (sauce on top of chilies, then cheese), and let the heat of the dish melt the cheese.



And top it off with taco sauce. (See above for the "live and learn" version!)



Serve with your favorite condiments (aside: you could leave the cheese off entirely and just serve it as a condiment)...

And enjoy! Makes a big batch...perfect for your Super Bowl crowd!



Gram's Super Nachos


1 lb ground beef
1 large onion
Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper (to taste)

Brown the hamburger, onion and seasonings. Add in Tabasco. Reduce heat and keep warm.

2 cans ("regular" sized can) refried beans
1 can diced green chilies
1 cup taco sauce
3 cups shredded cheese
1 can sliced black olives
2-3 roma tomatoes, diced
Shredded lettuce
Sour cream
Salsa
Guacamole
Tortilla chips

Spread beans in bottom of shallow, oven-safe dish. Spread beef on top of beans and sprinkle chilies on beef. Bake for 20 minutes at 375, remove from oven, spread taco sauce on top and return to oven for 10 minutes. Immediately upon removing from oven, sprinkle cheese on top of beef mixture. Serve with above condiments and tortilla chips.

AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!!!



Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Valuable Lesson Learned.

There are several reasons I started blogging. To capture and preserve photos of my kids. To remember their little quirks. To get on a soap box about various things. To tell you crazy stories. To share little tidbits of information that I've gleaned.

This post is one of the latter reasons.

So, y'all know about the "Great TV Debacle of 2013", right?

Ugh. Still makes me shake my head in disgust. Side note: I have now started to notice flat screen TV's in the backgrounds of peoples' tweets/FaceBook posts/Instagrams and OH MY. They are in the DANGER ZONE, PEOPLE!!! I look at them and think, "How did our TV only last 25 days?!"

I digress.

We decided to go with the offer Vizio gave us. Our "special order" went through, delayed a bit by its "specialness", then came the shipping game...so-and-so company would be calling us the night before to let us know of a time frame for delivery. We got our phone call and made sure we were home "between 4 and 7 pm".

Sure as you-know-what, they show up a suppertime. Delivery dude tosses (yes, "tosses") our TV up onto his shoulder and brings it in the house, tells me to "sign right here". Me, being the nice Minnesota girl (and busy with supper), asks, "and what am I signing?" and he tells me, "just that we delivered it".

I scribble my name, take note of a small gouge in the box, wish him well and off he goes. Hubby goes to set up the TV, and OH MY GOSH. 


The screen.



I almost died. Then I thought of that paper I signed and wondered "WHAT ON EARTH DID I JUST SIGN?????" and began the process of contacting Vizio.

Long story short.

Vizio is a wonderful company with awesome customer service. That paper I signed (and ONLY signed)? A form, with boxes checked off stating that the product had been inspected by me and that I declined to remove contents from the box to assure proper functioning.

That delivery dude, or one of his sleaze ball workers, duped me. They checked off those boxes at some point (before I signed? after? I have no idea...I didn't even see them.) and left me with a demolished TV.

Vizio made things right...but unfortunately, will not be reimbursed by the shipping company because of the shady sign off.

So, let this be a lesson to you. READ WHAT YOU ARE SIGNING!! Even if you're in the middle of supper and the natives are threatening to burn you at the stake if you don't hurry up with their steak. READ IT.

Do not, under any circumstances, accept the word of the jackwagon delivery dude that you're signing "just that we delivered it".

Which leads me to this: Thank you, Vizio, for being an upstanding company. Thank you for your amazing customer service. Thank you.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Inspirational.

One of the fun perks of my new job is that I get to sneak in on the motivational speakers that come to talk to our students and OH MY have we had some good ones.

First up, Chad Varga. Dude has an AMAZING story. Horrific childhood, pro-basketball career, gave it all up to make a difference in kids' lives. Of all the speakers my biggest boy has listened to, Chad is the ONLY one that Pal came home and spontaneously brought up on his own.

Chad's talk had me all teary...it absolutely TORE at my mama heartstrings. He spoke of how his 8 year old sister became the caretaker, reaching across their mattress at night and rubbing his forehead to help him fall asleep. Gracious. Pass the tissues.

He message was great: You make your own success. By all accounts, this young man should have been a "statistic", instead, he set his mind on being successful. Awesome story.

Then, just Monday, I had the privilege of hearing VJ Smith talk. VJ told us about the "Richest Man in Town"...a Walmart cashier set upon making sure everyone in his line knew he cared. Sincerely.

Whereas Chad's story had me teary and broken hearted for that sweet little boy laying on a mattress in an unfinished basement, VJ's talk had me swiping at tears that were falling too fast for me to keep up with.

VJ made me wish I had the opportunity to have known "Marty"...and also made me realize how much a sincere, handwritten "Thank You" means. Confession: the Mr. and I didn't finish all of our Thank Yous from our wedding. I have no excuses. We simply didn't finish them all...and now I want to dig through our wedding stuff to see if I still have the thank you list and write thank you cards to those we didn't get to.

Can you imagine, 13 years later, "Dear Aunt Martha, I can't remember what you gave us, but thank you. Thank you for caring enough to come to our wedding and for gifting us with what I'm sure was a very thoughtful gift." Unfortunately, I think some of those "neglected" thank yous were to people that invested more and gave more than was ever truly realized in our young eyes. Like, our parents.


Ugh. We truly didn't mean to be so selfish...and now I feel like a total schlep after hearing that VJ still remembers, 10 years later, the young couple he and his wife gave some towels to for their wedding and how they didn't receive a thank you.

Well, VJ, being the motivational speaker he is, has motivated me to never EVER forget another thank you, ever again!

Excuse me now, I have to go dig out our wedding tote...


Thursday, January 16, 2014

What to Expect?

Shortly before Christmas I received an email that, to be honest with you, I thought was spam at first...I mean, c'mon, could a well known website REALLY be wanting me to do a guest post for them?!

Turns out...YES!! And so, yours truly, had the pleasure and honor of being a guest poster on whattoexpect.com!! EEEEEEK!! I know, exciting, right?!

You'll have to go check it out...those of you who've read here for quite some time get my humor...those who don't "know me" well, well...apparently they're all offended that I made them self conscious about their labor breath. Sheesh. IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY! 

Ha ha? 

Get it? A joke? You know, one of those things that makes you giggle a little inside?

Geepers Lou, lighten up a bit!

Anyway, here's the link! 
http://www.whattoexpect.com/wom/pregnancy/a-labor-and-delivery-nurse-s-top-10-tips-for-giving-birth-naturally.aspx




Wednesday, January 15, 2014

St. Jude Red Carpet For Hope...a Recap!

If you follow me on Twitter (which, by the way, if you don't, why not?!) ;) then you know that last Sunday I was able to attend a "glamorous" event...the St. Jude Red Carpet for Hope! We were also the ONLY location in the US that had a live screening of the Golden Globes...exciting, huh?!



Well, I bullied my friend J. to go with me:



I'll be honest, when we pulled up to a very non-descript building, with only a small "non-glamorous" sign depicting where we were, I was a little worried that we'd over dressed for the event. So, we waited in the van until we saw other women in dresses with fancy hair walking in...then we decided it was safe! :)

When we walked in, the room was anything but "non-descript"...it was beautiful, and even had a "red carpet" for that "wanna-be celebrity moment"! :)



The event was to raise money for the wonderful organization that is St. Jude. Did you know that any child treated there never sees a bill?! Amazing. We had a young girl at our table named Ailin that has been told by doctors here in MN that she is out of options. Her family is hoping to get her into St. Jude to see if they can offer them anything more.



Imagine...being 11 years old and being told that there is nothing more that can be done to cure the nasty cancer within you? My heart breaks! I hope and pray they can get better news from St. Jude.

Let's talk for a moment about the fundraising. When they said "silent auction" I was imagining the baskets full of chocolate, wine, embroidered dish towels, etc. that I have seen at countless benefits around our area...well my friends...that wasn't quite how this one worked!  

Jared Allen autographed jersey, Kate Spade items, DreamWorks theater posters with a basket full of otherwise unattainable items...let's just say I was a little out of my league! (I did bid on a lululemon package...of which I had the highest bid for approximately 2.1 seconds!) Even the bidding process was different...all computerized!!



And you could follow your items on a website and bid from your smart phone! Crazy.

The best part of the evening was the live auction. A statuesque woman dressed in a column of cream sequins and sporting 13" heels (okay, okay, maybe not quite 13"...but dang close!!) was the auctioneer and auctioned off 3 trips. The first two (Food Network cooking class in NYC and a Hollywood Star Treatment replete with a hair appointment with Jennifer Aniston's stylist) went for $5,000-6,000...impressive, no?

But then...oh my friends, BUT THEN. The auction for the last fly-away started...a trip to NYC Fashion Week with an exclusive behind the scenes experience at Badgley Mischka...$2,000, then $3,000...4, 5, 6...soon it was up to $18,000 and down to two women bidding back and forth. At $19,000 it had slowed...then the auctioneer offered $19,500 and BOOM, bidding was back!

The husband of the other wife called the auctioneer over and they chatted a bit...then she approached the other woman and offered this, "Mike said, if you're willing to go with Berit, he will double the money down." And JUST LIKE THAT a NYC Fashion Week trip brought in $39,000!

It was exhilarating and so exciting to see the generous hearts so willing to offer up money for an amazing cause (and get an amazing trip in return)!! 

We scooted out a bit early, both of us had to work early and we had a decent hike to get home...but it was a wonderful experience...and it renewed my admiration for the work that St. Jude does!


Monday, January 6, 2014

Frozen...

OHMIGOSH, you guys...have you heard the news?

IT'S FREAKING FREEZING OUTSIDE!!!

Oh, you have heard? Silly me...I didn't think it was all over the news, or anything.

In other news, Disney's "Frozen" was #1 at the box office last weekend. Okay, okay...DISNEY, YOU WIN. Brilliant marketing plan. Simply, brilliant. (Now, we get the picture, can you please turn the heat back on?)

But seriously...it is so cold. So unbelievably cold...our governor actually closed all MN schools today. Windchills close to 50 below. Gross. For those of you that know cold weather, you know when it's cold out and your nostrils feel like they're going to freeze together? It totally feels like the same thing is happening to my throat!

Save me.

Or send a plane ticket to somewhere warm and tropical.

Once Christmas is over I am SO DONE with winter. Bring on the heat, so we can complain about that, instead! ;) 

Anyway, I wanted to make sure y'all heard about the cold weather...I was so certain that no one had. 

Carry on...




Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hi Ho, Hi Ho...

It's back to school we go!

And, yeah, I'm a little bummed. (Or, a lot bummed.) I just HATE it when Christmas ends. Mostly because I love Christmas...big, fat, puffy heart LOVE Christmas, but also, because it kinda makes me like winter for a little bit.

Christmas just isn't the same to me unless we have a bunch of snow on the ground, so I welcome winter with open arms...until after Christmas. Then? Then winter is just sucky.

Gross.

Grody.

Cold.

Yucky.

Months upon months of frigid cold without anything to look forward to to break it up a bit. And, of course, the whole "back to school" thing. The end of Christmas break. The end of my time with my kiddos under feet all day (yeah, sure, somedays are a little nutso, but overall? I LOVE the time with my kids.).

And so, today we are back to work, school, the daily grind. Some schools around us got the remainder of this week off (a whole TWO WEEKS off!!) and I'm green with envy of them. I was sooooooo hoping for a snow day or a late start or SOMETHING to extend the break for us...but nope. Here we are.

With a whole lotta winter still in front of us. 

Ugh.

(And here is where I put on my happy face and choose joy, right?) :)


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