Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Urban Vibes: 5 Steps to Plan Your Outdoor Boozy Brunch



Urban Vibes: 5 Steps to Plan Your Outdoor Boozy Brunch

As the sun shines a bit brighter and the weather feels a little warmer, the hibernating New Yorker (or Kansas Citian!) is more than ready to embrace these spring urban vibes. And one of the best ways to ditch those lingering winter blues is to host a rooftop boozy brunch. Need an excuse to flirt with that recently hired, striking single man outside of the office? Or maybe you just want to enjoy the sunshine with your closest friends. Skip the dinner party or late-night post-bar bash — when the city temps heat up, a brunch is the best way for urbanites to celebrate.
The Ambiance
Outdoor space will offer the most carefree and friendly environment, especially if you can take your brunch to the rooftop or even on the patio. You'll also need a table for the food, along with seating for lounging. From kitchen table chairs to beach chairs, it's all about getting cozy. For a touch of chic, decorate the space with floral arrangements in vases or pots. Floral accents along with strung twinkle lights are the easiest way to enhance alfresco aesthetics and really create a scene. If you're in the mood, choose a theme for your brunch, such as nautical, black and white or urban luau (which really equates to wearing a lei over whatever killer outfit you have on).
The Booze
Once you've captured the setting, the assorted alcohols is next to address (remember, priorities). The Ketel One Vodka Bloody Mary is essential for any discerning urbanite who brunches. Ingredients include Ketel One Vodka and its Bloody Mary Base (which consists of tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt, horseradish, black pepper and fresh lemon juice). After you mix and shake this concoction, garnish with celery, olives, lemon wedges or bacon. And, of course, no brunch is boozy enough without mimosas, sangria and a galvanized tin full of ice, craft beers and bottled water for a smidgeon of hydration. Oh, and BYOC: Bring Your Own Coffee.
The Starters
If your Sunday brunch squad is likely to head straight to the cocktails, you'll want to have a few brunchy appetizers on hand (as guests drinking on an empty stomach may transform a happy host into an unhappy host). Fruit salad (or kabobs!) are great bites that aren't only healthy, but colorfully aesthetic. For a little more substance, go for lemon poppy seed muffins, all the fixings for bagels and lox, deviled eggs and creamy, cool herb yogurt dip served with cut-up veggies.
The Fare
When you're feeding a gang, you don't have to fear the casserole. The New York Times Cooking offers a variety of elegant casserole recipes for brunching that will impress the palate of all your guests. The Buttery Breakfast Casserole (buttery as in toasted croissants, yum) is a caramelized combination of browned sausage, sage and melted Gruy√®re cheese. Does "herb-infused savory bread pudding" wake up your taste buds? The Green Strata with Goat Cheese and Herbs recipe by food columnist Melissa Clark is a delicious dish blended with ingredients like braising greens, baby kale, bread cubes and goat cheese topped with eggs.
The Baked Goods

If your guests ask what they can bring, the dessert category is where they can contribute — because even the best hostess (or host) can't play the perfect party planner, bartender, chef and baker, right? Plus, encourage this brunch to be an opportunity and special occasion where your friends can finally try out that to-die-for Pinterest recipe. Don't be afraid to unapologetically extend some sweetened brunch ideas, either. Sticky buns, pancakes, donuts, french toast, biscuits and scones with any type of fancy twist, preferably homemade, are all welcome.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Runs/Walks in Kansas City Noah's Crown Town 5K April 23, 2016



Before I was the homeschooling writer mom of 5, I used to love to walk all the time as a stress reliever and to stay in shape. I'd take my lunch break at work and head to Broadmoor Park in Mission, KS to fit in as many laps as I could handle. 

Walking is something you can do as a parent anytime, but now that my youngest is 6 and my oldest is 14, it's a lot easier for me to fit in time for my own fitness. Over the winter I walked some at the gym on the treadmill and track. Now I can walk the neighborhood or the field at the school by my house. I'm not a jogger or a runner yet ... special equipment needed for my upper lady parts ... but might be someday! For now I walk in my OOFOS sandals because they are the most comfy thing I have ever worn and work perfectly for summertime. I also walk in my special tennis shoes I got at Elite Feet in Leawood (please and thank you mention me and I get a $10 credit if you make a purchase!)

Because I love walking so much, AND the fact that all walks/runs I post benefit a charity, I'll be posting upcoming walk/runs in Kansas City as I find them. This does not mean I'll be participating in all of them, so don't show up expecting me to sign copies of my Tater Tot Casserole Cookbook or anything. I MIGHT or MIGHT NOT be there, depending on household funds at the time, Mr. Kerrie's travel situation, my sanity level, etc. Enjoy the race info, and go out and find some in your town!

What: Noah's Crown Town 5K

When: Saturday, April 23, 2016 at 7:30 a.m.

Where: Corporate Woods, 9401 Indian Creek Parkway, Overland Park, KS

Contact: Ryan Zimmerman, 913-669-6656, ryanzchat@gmail.com


Noah’s Bandage Project

Noah’s Bandage Project has two goals – 1) to help provide cool and fun bandages to kids that need them, and 2) to help raise funds for pediatric cancer research.

As a cancer patient, Noah Wilson soon discovered that a bandage is a pretty significant thing. Often times, kids are allowed to hold onto a bandage during uncomfortable procedures, and when they are all done, they get to put the bandage on as a final sign of completion. Once the bandage is on, it means they are through – for the time being.
Also, Noah realized that hospital gowns all tend to look the same, and when the chemotherapy makes you lose you hair, even the kids start to look the same. But the bandages you are wearing, those are the cool things that you wear that lets you stand out. The plain old brown bandages get the job done, but they aren’t fun! Noah quickly recognized that the kids that are going through what he is going through, could really use all the fun they can get.
That is where Noah’s Bandage Project comes in. He thought, ‘Why don’t we ask if people would make donations so that hospitals could have more cool and fun bandages for more kids?’ So, driven by his new task, Noah created his first sign, got his first tub for collecting bandages, and got to work. Little did he know how big this idea would become.
Through Noah’s efforts, his bandage project has helped hospital administrators see the need and importance of increasing their supply of these cool and fun bandages for kids. He’s already helped to provide thousands of bandages to hospitals that were in short supply. These bandages have also been given to families to take home, free of charge!  He also realized that these bandages could go to places other than hospitals as well, and has helped provide bandages to many organizations that support kids. With numerous TV, newspaper, magazine, and online interviews and mentions of Noah’s Bandage Project, his simple, yet pure hearted message of wanting to help kids like him have a little more fun in their lives has reached farther than any initially thought was possible. Noah also learned that when it comes to funding cancer research for kids, there is very little support.  In fact, only 4% of our national cancer research budget goes to kids…4%!!  So, Noah wanted to help in this area too, and takes money that is donated to his project and turns it into grants for pediatric cancer research.
Would you like to help put a smile on a child’s face? Whether you know a child suffering from cancer or not, we would welcome you to make a donation today and join the mission to bring some smiles to some much deserving children.
Fun facts: my uncle used to coach track at a high school in Lee's Summit for many years, my dad walks daily, and my 11-year-old daughter is now doing track for the Holy Cross Hornets!


Check the link (above after WHAT) for more info!

P.S. I get my info from the fabulous KC Running Company website.


On a personal note, here's my walking story for National Walking Day a couple of years ago with an update.


When you're all done, you'll be hungry! Grab a copy of my Tater Tot Casserole Cookbook and whip up a batch of happiness for dinner!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Lost in the Feminine Products Aisle & Picking Out a Backsplash


Welcome to Oversharing Wednesday.

Just kidding. It's regular Wednesday and I need no reason to overshare.

It was such a relief to read up on ADD and find out that my being overwhelmed in stores is part of the deal. I have always HATED shopping ... even when I weighed 100 pounds and clothing was easy to find and fit, I hated the choices. I love grocery shopping at Aldi and try to avoid those sections at the beginning and end where they cram 17,000 different, new, limited-time-only products all together. My brain feels like it's on fire when I have so many choices and I get pissy or shut down.

I took this picture of my local feminine products aisle when I was standing there preparing for my monthly situation. I do this EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. (the standing there looking like a zombie)*

You would think I would write down the one that worked for me but I never do and I would lose that piece of paper anyway. Perhaps a tattoo of my pad choice is in order. On the back of my hand.

So are we talking wings or no wings? Short, medium or long? The pad that holds a trickle or the pad that holds a gallon?

All have their merits.

Here's the super overshare part. Pssst! Some women, after having a ton of kids or simply when getting older, have to also do the Skipper of the pad world DAILY. Yeah, I said that. Regular pads are the Barbies and the tiny pads are the little sister pads, the Skippers. Enjoy your new terminology.

Why am I telling you all this? Because this past week my long-suffering husband and I have been looking for BACKSPLASH (needs a new word; I'll have to work on that one ... something like KITCHEN CATCHER because it catches all the popping grease and spaghetti sauce) tile.

Gotta love the 57 trillion choices!
We went to a SMALL place to look for our housing update needs and still ... he brought a sample of what our wall looks like painted and a sample of the wood of the cabinets and a sample of the granite countertop and I have come to the conclusions that:

1. My eyes do not process color like the rest of the world.
2. Feel sorry for me because I was born without the gene that helps match things to other things. I recently realized my meager closet is basically black and white with some gray ... a couple of colorful, easy-to-wash dresses that all go with basic black shoes round it all out.

This is a few years old and now I have fewer shoes and more black outfits. I'm one of those psychos who could wear the same exact thing every day so I don't have to worry about getting dressed and matching.
*Warning: please do not speak to me about the Diva Cup. It's not going to happen. And tampons are also not happening. And they can leak so you also need the tampon's wing-man (pun intended), the mini pad. I personally like to slap on the appropriate pad and go live my life and I'm probably not going to change anytime soon.

I would like to apologize to any male who stumbled upon this post and had no idea that THIS STRUGGLE IS REAL!

Here's a post from 2012 when we were stripping 76 layers of wallpaper in the kitchen we are now overhauling so we can sell the house.

If this post did not make you vomit or throw your phone/computer, please consider signing up for an email subscription at the top of the blog. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tackle-It Tuesday: Meal Planning with Grocery Shrink

*Originally posted 9/18/12 but I had to pull it out of the blog vault and move it up in the lineup.

Confession: I stink at meal planning. And I hate grocery shopping. And I don't fully embrace cooking in general.

But now I have some hope!

Last week my friend brought over this lime, avocado, baby shrimp, rice salad thing with Ranch dressing. It was AMAZING. I thought, "I want to make stuff like that but don't have time to troll Pinterest and cooking sites for recipes!"

Enter Grocery Shrink Plus by Angela Coffman. Andrea told me that the recipe was from a new meal planning email dealy jobber she signed up for that is only $5 a month! I figured I could handle that financially, especially since Andrea told me some of the meals are meatless and will save my family money instantly! I signed right up!

Since I signed up on a Wednesday and shopped that night, I didn't follow the meal plan perfectly. I substituted things here and there, swapping out recipes where it worked better for our schedule. It was just great to have the options and the cool recipes. It was also nice to have a grocery list to shop from and serving sizes for 2, 4, 8 and 12.


For only $5/month you get all this in your email box every Friday, which is like a little present:

  • a weekly menu
  • action plan at a glance
  • shopping list, staples list, grocery list broken down by bread, dairy, frozen, meat, canned and produce
  • recipes with action plan on same page
  • helps, like how to make gluten-free tortillas and how to do dairy free

That last point bears repeating: this program is great if you have 10 kids or if you have zero kids. Angela tells you how to make the portion smaller or larger so you can make a bigger batch for company or a smaller batch for just yourself.

I tackled Asian Vegetable Soup and my kids actually ate it. The same night I made eggrolls all by myself, baked in the oven and the kids loved them!

I also made this amazing Tuna and White Bean Salad for crackers, which was perfect for a go-to in-the-car snack on a Sunday night on the way from a family even 1 1/2 hours away to church. For the same car ride, I whipped out this snack mix (I call it Better Than Chex ... get it?) that is pretzels, nuts, Chex and dried apples. Before you add the apples you drizzle the rest with honey, butter, brown sugar and vanilla and bake it!

My favorite thing so far (keep in mind this is the FIRST week I've done this and I'm in love) is the Lime, Shrimp and Avocado salad, which also has cilantro, frozen corn and brown rice. You serve it on Romaine lettuce and top it with some Ranch dressing (I used the packaged Ranch dressing made with fat-free milk and fat-free mayo). It was FILLING.

I have to say I felt like World's Best Mom making this stuff because it's healthy and I had a PLAN, so I wasn't going to get fast food or hitting the frozen pizza.

BONUS: Following this plan will save you money. I am already re-stocking my basement pantry with canned goods with the money I'm saving with this low-meat menu plan.

AND I can make any of the recipes healthier by following Angela's "Fit Mama" suggestions. She also offers dairy free and gluten free options for each meal!

Head here to sign up for the plan and also check out her great ebooks!




Friday, March 4, 2016

Kitchen Remodel to Move to the Country: Pantry

Okay, so there used to be a 1966 oven in this top space of our pantry. Aron got rid of it and we put in a gas oven/stove to the right instead (where some space had been for pots and pans). The oven was so small and the range was electric so we made some changes.


Aron making his dovetail stuffs. Talented dude.

Top stuff is out and shelves are out. Ready to work on drawers to put in.

Wait! Gotta do some staining and stuff first.

Food hangs out in a storage receptacle for about a day or two

VOILA! Aron does it again! Five awesome drawers to match our five awesome kids. Not really, it just worked out that way.
On to the counters and sink!!!! If you want to follow the progress, sign up for an email subscription and you can get all the latest in your inbox.

How to Relieve Varicose Veins

Going for a walk on the beach ... or just around the neighborhood ... can stop varicose veins from ever forming.
Varicose veins are swollen, enlarged veins in the legs which usually appear a blue or purple color. They may also look bumpy, twisted or bulging. These painful and unsightly veins usually develop when small valves inside the veins cease to work properly and the blood flow begins to collect in your veins. Those suffering from varicose veins may report suffering from related symptoms such as leg muscle cramps, aching in the legs and ankles, and swelling in the legs. Thankfully, there are some useful things which you can do to either relieve or even totally get rid of varicose veins.

Adjusting Your Lifestyle

A lot of the time, varicose veins are a result of your lifestyle. For example, if you work at a job which requires you to sit or stand for extended periods of time, this can cause the valves in your veins to weaken, subsequently causing varicose veins. In order to combat this, avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time, take regular breaks at work where possible to walk around, and stretch your legs.

Elevating Your Legs

When you sit down, keeping your legs uncrossed and elevated can help to reduce the symptoms of varicose veins. Elevating your legs when you sit can help to ease the pressure on your blood vessels, whilst keeping them uncrossed reduces the pressure on your veins themselves. Placing your feet on a stool or other chair when you’re sitting down helps to improve the circulation in your legs. Occasionally, try to lift your legs so that your feet are above the level of your heart.

Adjusting Your Sleeping Position

Adjusting your sleeping position so that your legs are raised can also help to relieve varicose veins. Whilst you sleep, keep your feet placed on a pillow or two in order to keep them elevated and improve the circulation of blood around your legs whilst you sleep. Keeping your legs raised whilst you’re lay down is just as important as when you are sitting.

Loose Clothing

Loose-fitting clothing and low-heeled shoes are the best choices of garment when you want to reduce varicose veins in the legs. Low-heeled shoes or flat shoes cause your calf muscles to work more when you’re walking, which helps with the circulation of blood in your legs. You should especially avoid wearing clothes that fit tightly around the waist, groin or legs. Instead, go for clothing which does not restrict these areas in order to keep blood flow healthy.

Regular Exercise

Including regular exercise in your daily routine can improve both the circulation and the muscle tone in your legs. Exercising on a regular basis can also help you to lose weight if you need to, subsequently relieving pressure on your legs and greatly minimizing your varicose veins. Even something such as a short half an hour walk or jog each day can greatly help to improve your circulation overall. Focus on cardiovascular activities which help to get the blood pumping throughout your body.


If your varicose vein problems persist, it’s advisable to visit a specialist vascular doctor for more advice.

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