Swiss cake rolls

As I type I’m eating a swiss cake roll, otherwise known as a little piece of heaven.  They’re my weakness, my kryptonite.  I can keep chips in the house, candy, soda, etc. and they can sit on the shelves for weeks or months.  Swiss cake rolls last at most a week, and then only with lots of will power.  Why are they my favorite?  Got me.  Maybe the luscious combination of cake + chocolate.  Maybe it’s the throwback to my childhood.  I prefer to eat them when the children are sleeping so I don’t have to share.  I know, I know, I probably sound very selfish with my swiss cake rolls.  Yes.

This week one of our family members celebrated a birthday.  The queen of the family members, to be exact.  It was a very good day. Time with friends, lots of birthday wishes, and even a surprise by my husband.  S helped him carry it out.  All I knew was not to cook dinner.  Excellent.  Sounds like a good surprise already!

Since we have children, surprises are difficult to implement.  But they make for precious moments where Mom can chuckle to herself:

1. Mom picks that day of all days to look for some missing emery boards.  Clearly you can see the importance of this.  While looking I stumble upon a box swiss cake rolls!  AHHHH!  How could I possibly have missed this!  (As previously mentioned, these little guys rarely last a week here.)  I see birthday cards in the bag too, and I try to remember if I got them for my birthday last year.  How on earth did I forget about them!  However, I’m on a chocolate fast, so I can’t eat them.  I-can’t-eat-them.  *Sigh.*  So I quickly move them aside and return to my critical task of locating emery boards.  Within seconds I have an “aha” or “duh” moment…those are part of my birthday present…for that night.  Oops!!  Quick, practice fake surprise! (Thankfully I don’t have to practice my happiness in receiving such a gift!)

2. While Dad is at work my ten year old is in charge of coordinating the events for the evening.  He did an outstanding job, but he felt the pressure.  At one point K wanted to tell me what the surprise was and she and S argued about it.  Generally, when they argue it leads to K running to Mom in tears.  This time was no different and S was extra stressed she would blow the surprise.  I talk her down and explain she can tell me later (when it’s no longer a surprise, preferably). Throughout this entire exchange S is sweating it out and trying to interrupt so the surprise isn’t broken.  I promise him I can handle it but it takes several minutes of talking to each of them to calm the situation.  They finally are settled and Mom is non the wiser about the surprise.  Until minutes later when S blows part of it.  I laughed and laughed (to myself).  He was so worried about the three year old blowing the surprise and then he blows part it.  Oops!

3. A little later S calls my friend (while I’m in the room) and ‘gracefully’ asks her as soon as she’s on the phone, “Are you coming?!”  Gotta love Mr. Suave.  Then he camps out at the window and waits.  And waits.  He wouldn’t leave that window for anything!   The second he sees her car he tells me we have to go on an ‘errand.’  At which point we reach the part of the evening which Matt did not prep S well for: give Momma time to get ready.  (Matt told me I’d have time.  But S did not know these details and was pushing me to get out the door.) My friend comes to watch J while the rest of us go out to a restaurant.  One without slides, to Kianna’s disappointment.  A grown up one.  (One in which it would be hard to contain a one year old, thus the reason for my friend watching J.)  We had a lovely dinner.  Other than K crying most of the way to the restaurant because she “misses J” (awww…poor overtired girl!)  Finally I won her over when I explained we were going on a date with Daddy and S.   She still talks about how nice the date was at the restaurant.  *Smile.*  Yes, yes it was; even without slides.

Thanks to those who worked to  make my birthday special.  Surprises or no surprises I felt loved and cherished.  Now that’s a good birthday.

Today the chocolate fast is finally done.  I waited a whole hour after the end of the fast before diving into that box of swiss cake rolls. I know, my fortitude is amazing.  Feel free to stop by for a visit, I’d be happy to share…some chips.  Or a sandwich.  (My kryptonite will be in hiding.)

Tell me a joke

My kids love jokes.  Well, not the toddler, but I’m sure he will soon enough, and he certainly loves to laugh.  The other two love telling, reading, and hearing jokes.  My ten year old is finally getting pretty good at telling them.  My three year old is…not.  But she certainly loves to try!

Here are the current favorites in our family:

“Why are you under there?”

“Under where?”

“You said underwear!!”


Knock knock

Who’s there?

A Cow Says

A Cow Says, Who?

No, A cow says MOO!

(Now for the record, I don’t think we’ve ever made it all the way through this joke.  K or someone else inevitably kills the punch line.  However, it still causes tons of laughter!)


And plastic bugs.  Oh, the plastic bugs we have in the house right now.  I will say, they are much better than the real things.  But if they decided they’d rather live outside I’d be totally okay with that.

This was S’s surprise joke for me yesterday morning:

He also planted one on the fridge so it’d fall down on me when the door opened.  However, Dad opened the door first.  Teehee.  And then he left it at the bottom of the fridge for me.  Such loving guys I live with.

So back to the jokes, the non-creepy ones, we need some new material!  What are your favorites?

30 Minutes

Last week I ordered a package.  I was so excited for its arrival!  Even K was excited.  On the day it was supposed to come we waited with anticipation.  And waited.  And waited.  Finally it came…as I was cooking dinner and the children were in the middle of evening craziness.  (I seem to always live on the dinner-hour-shift part of the UPS route.)  At any rate, it finally came.  We were so excited!  The kids couldn’t wait for me to open it, which made for a tricky process…run to the kitchen, stir, run to the other room, cut the tape. Run back to the kitchen, add spices, stir, don’t put the scissors in the pot, run to the other room open the box, etc.  We finally got it open.
My first sewing machine. It strikes terror in me.
I grew up around sewing machines.  My mom is an excellent seamstress and I spent many many hours standing around in pinned fabric that she was making into clothing for me.  I know enough about sewing and sewing machines to be dangerous.  Seriously dangerous.  I know what the machine can and should do, but I cannot make it actually do it.  And now I have one of my own.  And I have no mom or mother-in-law nearby to help me when I get the machine messed up. Hmm…what was I thinking?
The kids can’t wait for me to get this machine open and running.  I pore through the manual to figure out to thread the darn thing. Which takes time (and more concentration that is allowed in the three-second period before the next interruption), so I have to wait.   After dinner Dad tries to occupy the natives in another room while I finally get to look at my new nemesis…I mean sewing machine.  I carefully finish unpacking it.  I carefully read the manual and after much diligence, I threaded the machine!  I did it!  It only took 30 minutes.  Thirty minutes.  To thread a sewing machine.  Now, for the record, it’s not as if it was a peaceful 30 minutes.  Children running in and out.  K continually asking if she can help me sew.  S wanting to provide advice, since he knows people who sew.  J frequently pulling on Momma and preferring not to share attention with a machine.  All while I’m trying to focus and read this manual like a tactical war manual…I will conquer this thing!
30 minutes to thread a machine isn’t a great productivity rate, but I’m so happy it’s successfully done, I overlook that detail.  I start to sew my first stitches and I’m so proud!  It looks…um, it looks like a nice straight line of holes.  I guess I wasn’t finished threading.  A little bit more work and VICTORY!  I did it!  I stitched some material!  I haven’t made a darn thing, and who knows how many times I’ll get this thing tangled up, but at this point I’m celebrating stitches in fabric.
The next day…even more success!  Here’s a pic!
Yes, this is some tattered material sewn poorly into squares.  The important thing is that is what I meant to do.  I know…I’m all that.  Crafting blogs, look out.  Chel is on the loose with a sewing machine.
Okay, many of you have been sewing for decades, so these minor successes seem trivial. However, for me it’s still a triumph.  Soon I’ll be posting all sorts of crafty projects…ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.  Probably not.
Instead I’ll be the one posting how I sewed the garment I was mending to the table-cloth or the pants I was wearing…sigh.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted.  As long as my fingers aren’t stitched together.

Sometimes I nail it

As the head chef of this household, I’m in charge of menus, dietary requirements, and the implementation of such.  Occasionally all this power goes to my head and I start picking out some…creative…recipes to make.  Sometimes these turn out well.  Sometimes, I’m the only one stubborn enough to choke down the leftovers in order to keep them from going to waste.

One of the tricks of my family is their palettes.  My husband’s is…particular.  My daughter’s is also…particular.  Both our sons are much more open yet still have their own quirky tastes.  So finding a variety of healthy, yummy foods to serve is often challenging.  One of my favorite foods is sweet potatoes.  Plain, fried, sweetened, baked, etc., I love them.  On top of my love for them they are ridiculously healthy.  Bonus.  There’s only one problem.  My husband hates them.  This man, this lover-of-all-things-sweet, hates sweet potatoes.  After all these years together I still don’t understand how this is possible.  Occasionally I try to find ways to serve them to him, which has met with little success.  Until this week I only succeeded once in our years together.  But now I have two, count then two, ways to serve sweet taters!

I was quite excited when I saw this recipe, though it sounded quite odd.  It had lots of ingredients I liked, even if I don’t normally put them together.  So without further ado (cause there’s been plenty of ado in this post already), here’s the recipe:

Sweet Potato, Carrot, Apple, and Red Lentil Soup*

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • plain yogurt
  1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Place the chopped sweet potatoes, carrots, apple, and onion in the pot. Stir and cook the apples and vegetables until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir the lentils, ginger, ground black pepper, salt, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and vegetable broth into the pot with the apple and vegetable mixture. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the lentils and vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.
  3. Working in batches, pour the soup into a blender, filling the pitcher no more than halfway full. Hold down the lid of the blender with a folded kitchen towel, and carefully start the blender, using a few quick pulses to get the soup moving before leaving it on to puree. Puree in batches until smooth and pour into a clean pot. Alternately, you can use a stick blender and puree the soup right in the cooking pot.
  4. Return the pureed soup to the cooking pot. Bring back to a simmer over medium-high heat, about 10 minutes. Add water as needed to thin the soup to your preferred consistency. Serve with yogurt for garnish.

* From 

Let’s see, I didn’t have fresh ginger, so I used powdered.  I forgot to serve with yogurt, but we had it over brown rice.  I only had brown lentils, so I used those.  I really have fallen in love with lentils in the last year or so.  If you’ve never tried them, I highly recommend it.  Healthy, cheap, and versatile.  That’s a triple score!

A pledge and a summary

I’m determined to write more this year.  Really.  Even though it’s already the 10th and this is my first post of the year.  But considering the volume of posts in the last couple months (or lack thereof), we’ll still consider this progress and a sign of more to come.

Let me give you a summary of life since the last post:

1. Sickness:  I think we’re trying to collect every virus.  We’re darn close to a full set.  We’ve had fewer healthy days than sick days!  However, despite the constant battle with coughs, congestion, and ear infections, we’re still growing and going strong.

2. Christmas:  It was lovely.  The kids relished the time with grandparents and we successfully celebrated our first Christmas in the South.

3. Kindle:  Best Christmas present.  Reading has sharply increased.  Oddly enough, other productivity has decreased.  My three-year old likes to think the Kindle is hers and works it almost as well as I do.

3. J:  Developing by leaps and bounds.  I love this age.  New words and tricks all the time.  Finding new things to climb on is probably one of my least favorite of those tricks.   Understanding new words from him is fabulous.

4. S:  Still doing basketball.  It’s going okay and he’s enjoying it.  His schoolteacher pointed out his class is half way through 5th grade.  I’d prefer not to think about that.

5. K:  Is seeming too grown up.  I’m trying to convince her to turn two on her next birthday.  She insists she has to get older.  Bummer.

6.  Legos: Can currently be found in every room of the house.  I think interior designers could learn from us.   Legos also make excellent clothing accessories.  J likes to put them down his shirt.  The trouble is, lately he has been wearing onesies, so they get stuck.  He rattles as he walks around the house.

7.  Football:  Roll Tide Roll!  Congrats!     …….However, I have to admit I hope someday you’ll be a good snack for a Wolverine (or a Spartan).

8.  Weather:  It’s warm for this time of year.  I’m a fan.

9.  Flowers: These grow outside.  In December and January.  I’m a big fan.

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