Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy 400!!

Today is my 400th post!  I cannot think of a better way to end a fantastic 2012 but with a huge milestone like this!

I have been maintaining this little blog here on and off since April of 2009. To think I have had enough to blab on about for 400 posts. Wow.

I have written about my weight loss, which is still on going. 40 pounds down, 20 to go! You can see that under the My Fitness Journey Tab.

I have shared a large number of recipes. Both originals I have created and reviews of ones I have found on the Internet or in a book. You can enjoy them under the What We Are Cooking Tab.

In 2012 I read 65 books! Can you believe that? Between audio books, reading with Heidi, and all the paperbacks on my bookshelf it really was a year of reading. You can see what I thought of some of those books on the What We Are Reading tab. I hope to write more reviews in 2013!

And I wrote a lot about our Amazing Bull Mastiff and her battle with cancer. I do get a lot of readers who are going through that same battle and I am glad I can help them. Those were difficult years for all of us. You can read that under the tab Daisy Mae's Journey: From Four Legs to Three.

I want to thank all of you who have stopped by, taken the time to comment or follow me, and all the encouragement I get from my friends and family. I might not have a million followers but I really do enjoy having a little corner on the Internet where I can express myself and connect with many people I would never have met. It is an introverts dream!

Here's to another 400!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Social

Good morning all!  Today I am going to link up with the Sunday Social. For all my non-bloggy readers, this is a little thing bloggers do to get to know other bloggers. And you might learn something more about me!

Sunday Social
1. What is the best New Years Eve you've ever had?
I think my favorite was 1989 to 1990. We went to a swimming party at the Community Center until 10 pm and then back to our house to watch the ball drop. It was the first time we were old enough to see a decade change (I don't count 1979 to 1980 since I was 8 months old!)
2. Are you doing anything for NYE this year and if so what?
This year we are going out to our friends in Prior Lake for some games. We have spent a few NYE's with them and it's always a good time. Very low key, even last year when we were all together in New York we managed to keep it low key!
3. Name a book we should all read come January?
As most of you know I read a lot! I occasionally post reviews here on this little blog of mine. My list is crazy long but in 2013 I would like to read Gone Girl and I Am the Messenger.
4. What are your new years resolutions?
Let's call then new years goals instead of resolutions, okay? My goals are to lose another 20 pounds in the first part of the year, cook at home at least 4 days a week when I am not traveling, and to stick to a reasonable budget.
So there you have it! Happy Sunday all! My next post will be a major milestone for this little blog. I should plan a party!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Our Third and Fourth Christmas Celebrations and an Egg Bake

We are still celebrating Christmas around here and I realized this morning it will overlap with our New Years celebrations but that's all good with me! You all know how much I love to be with my family. Heck, that's why there are two house fulls of them within a mile of my house!

On Christmas morning we woke up to one of the best gifts, the gift of Heidi not being sick any more.

She opened her gifts from Santa and from us before we headed over to my dad's house for brunch.

 Santa did good for a kid who asked for nothing. He got her a rolling hockey bag, a new stick, and a "Fuzzy Bear Ball" that she fell in love with at Cabela's a few months back.

 Heidi and I surprised Shawn with the knife he has been coveting for the last few months. To say he was happy would be an understatement.

Santa got Heidi the Moose version of the Bear Ball (which is actually called a Cuddly Buddies Pillow). She loves him so much. The only problem is Grandma and Grandpa got her the dog one so now her bed is more than full. I am really not sure where she sleeps!

Cupcake got a Kong and she loves it! This is her fourth Kong but I think this one will last awhile since Siri isn't here to eat it.

After we opened our gifts I chopped up these beautiful veggies to make an egg bake. We read a number of recipes while we were in Fargo and opted just to wing it. I was very pleased with how this turned out, I will make it again!

What you need:
12 eggs
1 medium yellow onion
1 green pepper
4 to 6 ounces mushrooms
8 ounces Deli Ham
1 large tomato - sliced thin
6 to 8 ounces mozzarella cheese

Dice the onion, green pepper, and mushrooms.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a bit of oil in a skillet. When hot add the onion and saute about two minutes. Then add the green pepper and saute another two minutes. The onion should be starting to turn translucent. Add the mushrooms and saute another minute. Test the veggies for tenderness, when they are how you like them, remove them from the pan and place on the bottom of greased 9 by 13 baking dish.

In a medium bowl, beat 12 eggs.

Pour the eggs over the veggies. Place the thin tomato slices on top of the eggs then sprinkle the cheese over the tomatoes.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the eggs are cooked through.

This was a hit with my family and served 6 people when served with side dishes.

Enjoy, Hugs!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas In Fargo

This year our Christmas season is very spread out. We started on Friday with dinner with our good friends, continued with a day in Fargo to see family, then back to the cities for a few more celebrations here that will go until this weekend. I just love having my entire vacation being filled up with love and family!

Like I said, we spent a day up in Fargo which is about 4 hours northwest of our home. We went up there to see my Step Mom's family. This was the first time we made that trip.

In fact, this was the first time my Step Mom and her siblings were all together with their parents for 30 years! We loved being a part of this special day for them.

Heidi had been fighting a fever and headache for a few days so before we hit the road we hit the Target Clinic to learn she had some virus and just needed rest.

We headed right up to my Step Aunt's house where we had a very nice Ham dinner with all the sides. The Vikings game was on the TV and the family gathered around talking, really getting to know each other a bit.

We were so happy the trip worked out and we were able to see family we only see every 5 years! I just wish I would have taken some pictures!!

We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Fargo and pretty much had the entire hotel to ourselves. I would be shocked if someone told me more than thirty people stayed there that night. My parents and Step Uncle stayed in the room across the hall from us so Heidi ran back and forth spending time in both rooms.

We had this amazing view!

Okay, so maybe Amazing is not the right word... One would think we were out in the middle of no where USA but we really were right next to a mall and a lot of shopping. I guess none of it was on this side.

What this view really said to me was COLD! And it sure was! We haven't really gotten below zero here in Minneapolis so the -4 with all the wind was quite biting. But we weren't really dressed for it either. For some odd reason Shawn and I were not wearing coats. Honestly not sure what what was about.

After we checked in we ran out to grab a light dinner at a place down the road called Smiling Moose Deli. I have one rule when I travel - I do not eat a places I can have at home! So thanks to Yelp we found this really great little Deli and had a nice dinner.

Chicken Cesar Salad and Tomato Basil Soup - no one else wanted to let me take a picture of their food. Spoil Sports is what I call them!!

After dinner we headed back to the hotel for the night. Heidi was still under the weather so we just made it an easy night of watching movies and relaxing.

And maybe a little bit of bed jumping. But how can a seven year old stay in a hotel and not do some bed jumping?!

Christmas Eve we woke up to a nice hotel breakfast and a quick swim before loading up the frozen cars and driving back to the cities.

The drive back was so peaceful. There weren't too many cars on the road, it was that crisp cold where the sun shines and warms up the car, and we saw an amazing sun dog for about 45 minutes!

A Sun Dog is when there is a halo around the sun
Even though Heidi wasn't feeling well most of the trip we still had a wonderful time. I don't have an Act of Kindness to report during these two days so I am going to cheat a little bit and call our trip an Act of Kindness. My Step Aunt and her family extended an Act of Kindness to our family by opening their house to us and allowing us to be a part of their Christmas celebration. THANK YOU Sue, we love you!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Act of Kindness Day 2 and Parmesan Chicken

Yesterday was all about wrapping up our holiday gift shopping. We ran to Morts Deli for breakfast and had a wonderful meal that kept us happy until dinner at 6 pm. If you live in the Twin Cities I highly suggest you check you Morts in Golden Valley.

While at breakfast I asked Shawn what we should do today for our Act of Kindness. He said "don't worry about it and it will just happen."

I don't always listen to him when he says don't worry but this time I just let it go.

And guess what? It happened!

We walked into a book store and there were two helper dogs working the gift wrap station.

Well, the dogs weren't but their trainers were. So our act of kindness today was to donate to support this amazing cause. In return we got a demo from the dogs of the stuff they can do including picking up a pen, pulling off a glove, and taking off a sock.

Those dogs warmed my heart to the point I just wanted to cry of happiness. And one of the dogs even hugged me! He really knew what I needed.

We talked to one of the ladies and she explained a little bit about how therapy dogs get certified which was very helpful since we would love for Cupcake to get certified at some point.

I was very thankful I listened to Shawn and just let it happen because when it did, it was the right think for all of us!

Now for a recipe! For dinner we had Parmesan Chicken. This is one of our favorite ways to make Chicken and it is very simple.

Here's what you need:
4 to 6 chicken breasts
1 cup Mayo
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (shreaded)
1 1/2 tsp season salt (I like Crazy Mixed Up Salt)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Place chicken in a greased baking dish - 9 by 13 works well.

Mix all other ingrediants in a small bowl then spread on the chicken.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Acts of Kindness Day 1, Vacation Day 1, and a Holiday Dinner

Yesterday was my first day in my mission to complete 26 Acts of Kindness. Small acts of kindness are very easy, it's really just being nice and helpful so I hope you all follow along and maybe get inspired to do these little things each and every day.

It was also my first day of vacation! I am off for 17 days, Shawn and Heidi are off for 16. I am really looking forward to all the family time we are going to have.

Heidi started her vacation with a fever and a headache so hopefully she isn't too sick and gets better soon.

In addition to yesterday being my first day of vacation it was also the first day of winter. I love the idea of celebrating the changes of the seasons!!

The day started with our friend kids, my carpool, coming to our house early so their parents could get to work early. The girls loved being together before school and their time with Cupcake.

(Act of Kindness 1 - helped out a friend)

You will just have to trust me when I say they were happy, all that bed head is telling a different story!
Being the last day of school before vacation and the first day of Winter I wanted to do something fun with the girls so we went out to breakfast.

Hot Cocoa and Muffins at Caribou - YUM!
Act of Kindness 2 - Surprised the kids with a special breakfast
Act of Kindness 3 - tipped my barista graciously. Do you tip your barista? I sure hope so! But I usually spend under $4 and just toss my change in the cup. Today it was a few bills. The look on the baristas face was so worth it!
Act of Kindness 4 - I cleaned up the table at Caribou so it looked like no one had sat there while the girls cleaned up the play area to make it nicer than they found it.

Act of Kindness 5 - gave Heidi's teacher a Thank You gift that made her cry. I felt a bit bad about that one!

Act of Kindness 6 - smiled, greeted and/or thanked each of the school staff members I encountered while in the building.

I spent the rest of my day running errands and wrapping gifts.

Act of Kindness 7 - Put a kart away for a woman with small kids already strapped into her car at Costco.

Act of Kindness 8 - ran two errands for my friend while she was at work.

Heidi came home from school about an hour early with a headache so I took a little nap with her. Cupcake joined us. It was delightful!

We ended our day with dinner at Paul and Erin's house. Erin served Lemon Chicken which was absolutely wonderful. Paul served beers (I may or may not have had three...). And the girls had a lot of fun playing and begging to open their gifts.

We had a little gift exchange where the girls gave each other popcorn poppers and before we knew it we were all exhausted, it was 10 pm, and time to go, bringing a great day full of my favorite people and seven Acts of Kindness to a close.

What Acts of Kindness did you do today? If you think hard I bet you did some without even realizing it!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Acts of Kindness

As I lay here on the couch this cold, windy Thursday evening, watching Rock Center on NBC, I am finally feeling like I am being spoken to about how to make a difference in light of the horrible events in Newton CT last week.

No, not spoken too. Yelled at.

I have been hearing a lot about the 26 acts of kindness going around the internet. I didn't know where it started but I thought it was a good idea. Being so overwhelmed with this event I never did anything with it.

So here I am. Laying on the couch this cold, windy evening, the first evening of my 17 day vacation and I learn my favorite TV personality, Ann Curry is the one who started this 26 acts of kindness idea.

I felt like I was punched in the stomach. I started to cry. Then I picked up my tablet and started drafting this post.

Starting on Friday December 21st, 2012 I will hand out one act of kindness a day for the next 26 days. I will post them here and on Twitter (@HeidiNae) and if a photo goes with it you can see that on instagram (Karamae31).

I hope you follow along. This is going to be good.

Real good.


You're My Boy, Pig

This guy right here one of the most amazing dogs I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

His name is Pig.

Pig is my dog.

Pig passed away from intestinal cancer one year ago yesterday.

There is not a day that goes by where I do not think of The Boy.

Mama loves you, Pigger. She always will.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Trying to Lift the Writers Block

These last few days I have had a special kind of writers block. It is the kind that comes during the process of reconciliation. And I know this time it is due to the elementary school shootings that happened last Friday.

The shooting are not something I even intended to write about. I try to keep current events off my blog but this one is effecting me so deeply. Being the mother of a seven year old, being the aunt of four 6 to 8 year olds, being the Girl Scout Troop leader to 15 girls ranging from 6 to 8, really having gotten to know my daughters friends from school. This is just way to close to home for me.

And this is the kind of think that usually would drive me away from the blog for a while and have me writing in a personal setting instead.

However, this time, I wasn’t writing at all.

I sort of stuck my head in the sand and ended up feeling extremely guilty for moving on with my life while these poor families were suffering this senseless tragedy.

Friday night we went to a parade in Downtown Minneapolis called Holidazle with the kids. It’s at night in the freezing cold. All of the floats and people in the parade are decked out with lights. It is a lot of fun. But I was overshadowed with a feeling that I should not be enjoying myself when this was all still going on. I should have been hugging the kids not getting down on myself.

Saturday morning I was home paying bills and creating our Holiday card while Shawn and Heidi were at the dentist. I broke down when it occurred to me these families would never be taking their child to the dentist again.

Sunday I spent the day shopping with Erin. Towards the end of our outing we finally let ourselves talk about how we were feeling. For me, it really is about feeling helpless. I am helpless to directly help these families and that’s not something I deal well very well.

I am a fixer and a doer. To be sitting at home without a way to help makes me feel horrible. In natural disasters I have joined up with groups who are collecting hygiene supplies, pick up a truck load of shampoo and diapers at the dollar store, and know they will help.

But these families don’t need shampoo. The need their child returned to them safely. I can’t make that happen.

I finally figured out what to do. It is coming in a few forms and I really hope it not only helps me but helps others.

I volunteered in my daughters classroom on Monday and was there to support the teacher however she needed. I played games with the kids and made their afternoon enjoyable plus I was able to have lunch with Heidi and her friends.

I thanked the support staff at the school for all their efforts in keeping our children safe. I have always appreciated them but even more so now because they really are doing the very best they can.

Last night our Girl Scout Troop made thank you cards for their favorite teacher or support staff at their school. We did not feel it was our place to talk to the girls specifically about what happened so we left it very high level with a “lets thank all the people at our school who help us every day.” The girls loved it and it warmed my heart.

For the future, I am going to focus on completing more random acts of kindness. I am going to smile at people more often. Really, I am just going to keep trying to be the best Kara I can be and I am going to keep pushing Heidi to be the best Heidi she can be. It is the best I can do at this point.

Hugs to you all and to your children. Thanks for stopping by the blog today, I do feel the writers block is lifting as I wrap this up.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Feeling Christmas

I didn't realize until this weekend that I have been lacking Holiday spirit the last two years. What made me realize it was having our friends and family over for our party and actually feeling it. I went Wow! Where has this feeling been?

Two years ago we were going through Chemo treatments with Daisy Mae, our amazing bullmastif.

Last year we lost our Bulldog Pig to intestinal cancer in a very short period of time.

But this year, and this is recent and I haven't really told you all about it yet, but we are a one healthy dog family. Yes, you know we have one healthy dog but you may have thought we had two. What happened to one of those dogs is s story for another day.

Today, I am feeling the Holiday spirit and I want to keep it that way!

Monday, the day after we became a one dog family, we made the trek through ice and snow, three miles away, to a local Christmas Tree Store.

The entire family went so that means Cupcake joined us.

This picture was taken just before Cupcake took a huge steamer in the snow that Shawn made me clean up. I could not find a garbage can so the bag containing the steamer may or may not have been forgotten in my van until the next morning.

 We wandered around the tree store for a while until we found the perfect tree.

Even Cupcake approved!!

Let me tell you, I was so impressed by how well behaved Cupcake was. I mean, besides the steamer incident. She didn't bother anyone and she didn't complain about it only being about 10 degrees outside.

We loaded the tree up and brought it home to thaw out.

Then on Tuesday we decorated it as a family. I have to say, it turned out to be a beautiful tree. I am so looking forward to filling it with presents for my amazing family in a few weeks!!

Happy holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Not Lady Gaga? I Really Don't Know...

A few weeks ago I had the eminence pleasure of taking care of my 8 month old niece, Elie, for an evening. She is the daughter of my brother Justin and his partner Dawn.

See?! She is a doll (Credit: Justin's facebook page)
It happened to be the night Heidi was skating during intermission at the Women's Gopher Hockey game so we brought her along. She is such a good baby and we had a blast together!

That's Heidi in Red out front with the puck! Credit: Leah's mom's facebook page (I forgot my camera and phone!!)
When my brother came to pick up Elie at the end of the evening, they brought me a bottle of wine. Which was nice but so totally not necessary since I felt I should be paying them for letting me hang out with Elie!

My first thought when they handed me this bottle was "wow, now she makes wine?" but they were quick to explain there had been a sign under the bottle that said it had no relation to Lady Gaga. Knowing how much I like trashy wine they immediately thought of me.

I opened the bottle for our party over the weekend but no one drank it. I guess the Crispen (OMG, if you have not had Crispen before, go have one. Right now. I will wait.) and Beer were more popular than my Gaga wine. I think my bottle of Cheap Red Wine went to waste too.

So I decided to have a glass with dinner last night. What goes better with tacos then a glass of trashy wine? Am I right or what?!

I take a sip and I think, "Well, that sure is an interesting taste. What is that?" 

Then I take another sip and think, "Hmm... what is that taste? Why can't I place it?"

One more sip and I am sold. It's dirty cheese.

Now I am doubting the sign because it sure would seem this bottle of wine was inspired by Lady Gaga. If she doesn't scream Dirty Cheese, I don't know what does.

Sorry Justin and Dawn but it just didn't work out. How about I take Elie for an evening and you can try again? On the bright side, you helped me figure out just how trashy of a wine I am willing to drink. Trashy but not Lady Gaga Trashy!

Love you guys!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Our Holiday Party

Saturday night we opened our house to our friends and family to gather, eat, celebrate the holiday season, and eat with our third Dessert and Appetizer party. It was a beautiful evening with a looming snow storm, the perfect evening to have about 40 children and adults mingling throughout my home.

We had a fire in the fireplace, beer and Crispen chilling outside the back door, and piles and piles of food scattered around the kitchen.

There were chicken wings, buffalo chicken dip, cookies of many varieties, cakes, cupcakes, and the most amazing trifle.

But the highlight of the desserts was this awesome Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake with a little joke written on it.

The story is that we brought a cake to a party thrown by the Chris mentioned on the cake but the cake was placed in the freezer and forgotten until a few days later when we all realized we didn't eat the cake. When Chris was asked about said cake he was enjoying it himself. So, this cake is "not for Chris!"

In addition to having a wonderful evening with people I truly care about I found an opportunity to wear my new necklace! This little beauty was gifted to me by Cold Water Creek just for mentioning it on this little blog here. How fun is that? And I got so many compliments on it.

This was a much better way to spend my first night of Hanukkah than a few years ago. You can read about that night here.

I am already looking forward to next years party!

Happy holidays everyone!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holiday Cookies: Granola Cookies

Flipping through a little book I have called "The Great Cookie Book" published by NordicWare I found this intriguing recipe the turned out to be a keeper!

What you need:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 cups of your favorite granola, slightly crushed (I like Cascadian Farms)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugars, vanilla, and egg until light and fluffy. Stir in remaining ingredients. Mix well.

Drop dough in rounded teaspoons (I used my medium cookie scoop) about 2 inches apart onto an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 11 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet them transfer to a cooling rack.

These went fast in my house and with the granola we didn't feel too bad eating them!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday Cookies: Peanut Butter Puff Cookies

Last December I picked up a cookie cookbook and had the wonderful idea I would bake my way through that cookbook this holiday season. I am not going to get through the entire book but I am going to share with you a few favorites from both that book and from other sources.

Today I am sharing a recipe from my friend Tammy. She sent this to me months ago and I finally was able to carve out a few minutes to make them. Boy was I glad I did. These are very yummy!

Peanut Butter Puff Cookies

Here's what you need
4 egg whites (you can use egg whites from a carton)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease cookie sheet or use parchment paper (I did one try on both and the parchment paper cookies kept their shape much better!)

In a small bowl beat peanut butter with vanilla to soften.

Beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form. Add sugar very, very gradually to egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Fold the softened peanut butter into meringue gently.

Drop from teaspoon 1 inch apart on cookie sheet.

Bake 20 minutes until slightly brown.

Try not to eat them all at once but do enjoy!