Happy Easter!

easter greetings

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”

John 11:25-26

Wishing those of you celebrating today a Happy and Holy Easter!

Busy Saturday


Well, hello there Spring! Nice to finally see you! OK, so it wasn’t terribly warm or anything, but the temps rose above 50, which meant I was able to crack open the windows and let in some fresh air. Ahhh! Much-needed! I also woke up with a ton of motivation today, so I took advantage of that and tried to get a lot done.

Started the day with a yummy breakfast and a cup of coffee. (You’ll have to bear with me — I got my new 50 mm lens, so expect a whole lot of photos as I play around with it!) Then it was on to laundry, changing sheets, and various chores around the house.


I’m so ready to start my spring cleaning, but until the weather is reliably warmer I’m going to put it off. Instead, I just switched out some linens and moved a few things around. Also, I think the piano bench could use some new foam padding, but I’m not quite ready to tackle that yet, either.

Made lunch for everyone, and Drew and Jake headed down to the comic book store for International Tabletop Gaming Day. They were there for fun, yes, but also to represent Drew’s game Mad Science. While they were out I made up some horseradish deviled eggs to bring to Easter dinner tomorrow. Oh, they are so good! I had to hide them way in the back of the fridge so I won’t devour them all.


Then it was time to iron clothes for tomorrow. Easter is the one holiday I don’t cook for. I mean, I certainly would,but we do Thanksgiving and Christmas Day here, so… sometimes it’s nice to be a guest 🙂


Thankfully, I thought ahead and made a dinner that required very little prep: Crock Pot chicken tacos. Oh, this is our new favorite way to make tacos. The chicken is so moist and yummy, and I love that I don’t have to pay attention to a pan. Just shred some cheese, chop some veggies, and dinner’s ready to go. Oh, and the kids wouldn’t let me forget the Glitter Grapes for dessert — LOL. I used mango Jell-O this time. I still like the melon fusion best, but this was good too.


Alas, now it’s time to clean up the dishes (though, truth be told Drew is doing that as I type… we have an unwritten “you cook, I clean” rule) and get on with the evening. Think I might have to lend my egg-stuffing skills to the Easter Bunny 😉

{Recipe} Copycat Big Mac Sauce


I am not ashamed to admit that I have a not-so-secret guilty pleasure: a gooey, messy Big Mac from McDonald’s. There. I said it. I know, we’re all supposed to eschew fast food establishments (especially McD’s), but whatever. A few times a year I indulge in this treat and feel no need to apologize. But what about when I have that craving, but don’t want all the grease? Easy: I make my own version.

A number of years ago I bought a cookbook called Fast Food Fix by Devin Alexander. It features a number of made-over fast food meals. Not only does it show how to make them healthier, but obviously it instructs you how to make them at home.

I’ve adapted her recipe to suit my own tastes. I cut down the sugar even further and I think the difference is barely noticeable. And let’s be honest: I rarely measure the onions and pickles. I just eyeball the amount and mix them into the sauce. So now you can enjoy that signature McDonald’s taste at home, but using better quality ingredients. That’s the best of both worlds!

Copycat Big Mac Sauce


      • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
      • 2 tsp. chopped dill pickles (or dill pickle relish)
      • 2 tsp.ketchup
      • 2 tsp. yellow mustard
      • 1 Tbsp.+ 1 tsp. finely chopped white onion
      • 1 tsp sugar

Combine all ingredients in a jar and stir well. Can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.

I seriously cannot wait until it warms up and we can grill on a regular basis. Despite cold temps and snow flurries on Saturday night, we fired up the grill to make these burgers. And it was totally worth the freezing fingers!

I’m linking up with Sandra at Diary of a SAHM
because it’s Cooking Thursday!

What a Weird Day


Ah yes. Well-played, Mother Nature. Well-played indeed. Spring may start tomorrow, but oh we had one (hopefully) final winter blast overnight and into the day. The kids’ school had a two-hour delay and just as they were settled into classes, a second wave of snow blasted through the Hudson Valley. Ugh!

Also, it was one of those days when everyone decided to get up at the crack of dawn. (More like pre-dawn!). Laura started calling for me before 5 a.m. and despite my attempts to settle her back to bed, I found myself watching “Timmy Time” at about 5:20. At least there was a pot of coffee.

So, it was a rough start. But then, around lunchtime the doorbell rang. It was FedEx with a delivery for me!


Those beautiful roses that Drew gave me for Valentine’s Day? Yes, well… they were beautiful for a day or so, but then almost none of them opened. So the buds just kind of withered away. Drew wrote a letter to the customer service department of the company he bought the flowers from and was issued a credit. He ordered me that beautiful succulent garden! What a lovely surprise on such a yucky day.

But it just got better. On a whim,  I joined a Twitter party, sponsored in part by Clever Girls Collective (I’m sure you’ve noticed that from time to time I do sponsored posts as a member of their blog network). Well, I ended up getting chosen for one of the prizes — an American Express gift card. Crazy!


We ended up opening a bottle of wine to have with dinner. Yes, this was a little bit fancy for our Crock Pot chicken tacos, but that’s OK. It wasn’t doing any good in the wine fridge.


And then it was time for Jake to get ready for Boy Scouts. It’s his first Court of Honor ceremony tonight, and I feel so bad that I’m missing it but trust me — I’d be doing no one any favors by bringing a tired three-year-old to this meeting. There will be another time.

So now the dishwasher is running, Laura is fast asleep, Noah is reading in bed and as for myself? Why, I do think a bit of crochet is in order. I haven’t done much over the last week, so I think I’ll take advantage of the quiet time, make a cup of chai and grab my yarn and hook and see what comes of it.

Have a great night!

Green Giant Has a Surprise: New Veggie Chips!

{Sponsored Post}

Although I am not a big snacker, I do enjoy having a side of something crunchy with a bowl of soup or with a sandwich at lunchtime. Of course, most chips aren’t super healthy. But imagine if there was a tasty chip made from whole grains and veggies! Well, Green Giant has a big surprise for you: its brand-new Veggie Chips.

That’s right, we all know Green Giant for canned and frozen vegetables. Well, now they have a delicious new way to sneak more veggies into our diets. Thanks to a Green Giant rep sending us some free bags, I was able to sample two varieties: Roasted Veggie Tortilla Chips and Multigrain Sweet Potato Chips.

green giant veggie chips

The tortilla chips were hands-down, the family favorite. They were full of flavor and delicious! The sweet potato chips were very yummy too, but a little more subdued. They were the perfect accompaniment to my sandwich.

green giant veggie chips


Here are some fun facts about the new chips.

  • The Green Giant™ Roasted Veggie Tortilla Chips – Zesty Cheddar Flavor are made with real vegetables, 17 grams of whole grain per serving (48g are recommended daily), and are naturally flavored.
  • The Green Giant™ Multigrain Sweet Potato Chips – Sea Salt Flavor are made with real sweet potatoes and made with 14 grams of whole grain. Plus, they contains 40 percent less fat than regular potato chips*!
  • *Green Giant Multigrain Sweet Potato Chips (6g per 28g serving) have 40 percent less fat than regular potato chips (10g per 28g serving).

The folks at Green Giant want to know what your surprise talent is. Here are just a few that they have unearthed — check out more on their YouTube Channel or head over to the Green Giant Facebook page and show the Giant what you can do!


Green Giant has provided me with a printable coupon for Pure Sugar readers who’d like to try out their new veggie chips. Save 85 cents on a bag — I bet you’ll be surprised by how good they are, too!

Thank you to The Green Giant™ for being a sponsor. Show the Giant your surprise talent at www.facebook.com/greengiant

Pinewood Derby 2013

pinewood derby pit passes

Last night was our Cub Scout Pack’s Pinewood Derby — the first with Drew as Committee Chair — and can you believe this is the only photo I took? That’s right, mama left her SD card in her laptop and didn’t even bring her iPod Touch. Talk about a momentous mama failure.

Sigh… Well, at least we didn’t forget any of the other 8.5 million things we needed to bring! I think it went well. As you can see, I made up “pit passes” for all of our little racers. I also made “VIP All Access” passes for the “Pit Crew” (that would be the leaders and anyone else who was helping out.

Drew donned his mechanic’s jumpsuit (I don’t really know why he has one, especially one with his name embroidered on it, but whatever… he was psyched to have a reason to wear it), we made a quick photo booth out of a checkerboard sheet and the American flag, we had pennants, we had pizza, and we had our brand-new track. Of course, the night was not without its problems (is any pack m eeting ever?), but I hope the kids all had fun.

There was another big event going on in the cafeteria across from the gym (where we were), so we hung up flyers decorated with race flags and advertising “Pinewood Derby” just in case anyone wanted to know what was going on. Maybe we even got some boys interested in scouting.

A few members of Jake’s Boy Scout Troop were there in uniform, and they were such great help to us! From keeping the little kids wrangled, to helping with the event, to cleaning up — they were always there for what we needed. Love those boys — definitely gives you faith in the younger generation.

Noah’s car ended up winning first place for his den, so that was very exciting 🙂 By the time we got everything packed in the car and got home, it was super late, but I was not about to skip a celebratory glass of wine (what was I thinking giving up wine for Lent? I made it three weeks, at least…).


So, we have a few kinks to work out for next year, but overall I think the event was a success! One thing that seemed to go over well was the Recognition Awards I made up. I wanted every boy to get something, even if he didn’t win a race. So we printed up participation awards and after I looked at the cars I gave them silly superlatives like “Sparkliest” and “Most Dotty.” Totally goofy, but at least all the scouts left with something. I think that’s important.

You know, and I’ll bet though these things make me stressed and crazy, in a few years when Noah is done with Cub Scouts I’m going to totally miss it.

A Lucky Day

I won!

As I’ve mentioned, the last week or so has been kind of crummy. So when I saw that my new Erin Condren notepads were out for delivery today, that immediately helped me perk up. I needed some colorful, cheery mail! Well, you can only imagine my utter shock when I opened the envelope and pulled out a chocolate bar with a golden ticket!

Erin was running a special promotion — products that shipped between March 1-17 had a chance to win one of 25 gift cards and I was one of the random winners. I would have been thrilled with anything, but it was a $50 gift card! So I am just going to tuck that away and use it toward next year’s Life Planner. That was such a lovely surprise and exactly what I needed after quite a few tough days.

Also exciting: we got our tax refund and I’m purchasing a 50 mm lens for my camera — whee! I am hoping it will not only help improve the photos I post here on my blog, but it will get me excited about photography again. It will arrive at the perfect time, just as bulbs start to spring forth from the ground and things come alive again with spring 🙂

Well, I am off to get the kids settled and in bed. Have a great night!

{Recipe} Flourless Chocolate Torte

flourless chocolate torte

Last weekend I needed to make a flourless chocolate torte for a church event. It seemed simple enough (even though I broke the first one), and goodness knows I love chocolate so, even a broken torte is a-okay in my book! Anyway, I of course had to make a second one for the event and it came out so delicious I just had to share it here.

This is gluten-free, but certainly not sugar-free. I bet you could play around with various sweeteners to improve upon that, though.

But here’s what I think makes this torte so great — the butter is completely optional! Yes, that’s right. The instructions on the recipe print-out were unclear. It called for a stick of butter, but didn’t explicitly state what to do with it. So I didn’t use any in the first torte I made (aside from using it on the pan and parchment). As I mixed the sugar and eggs into the melted chocolate, I was concerned because the mixture was so thick and grainy, but it really turned out fine in the end. The resulting dessert featured a texture that is a little drier, a little more brownie-like.

I actually brought leftovers of both tortes to library story hour this week so I could have some “taste testers” and get their thoughts. The consensus was that both were delicious, and could be considered two different desserts due to texture and richness.

So here you go! A yummy (and super easy) gluten-free dessert. (If you want to make it completely butter-free, use another type of fat to grease the pan and parchment — coconut oil would work well here.) Oh, one more thing. I did not have any sort of pan that my springform would fit into to use as a water bath, so I just filled a 9×13 Pyrex casserole dish with boiling water and set it on the rack underneath my torte. It worked fine for me, your mileage may vary.

Flourless Chocolate Torte

flourless chocolate torte

    • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) bittersweet chocolate (*I just used semi-sweet chips — I think dark chocolate would be amazing)
    • 1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces (*optional, read above for my experience making it both ways)
    • 3/4 c. sugar
    • 3 large eggs, beaten
    • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder, plus additional for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Start water boiling for the water bath.

Butter the inside of an 8-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with a round of parchment or wax paper and then butter the paper.

If you are not using chocolate chips, chop your chocolate into small pieces. Melt the chocolate along with the butter in a double boiler and stir until smooth.

Remove the melted chocolate from the double boiler and whisk in the sugar. Add the eggs and whisk well to combine.

Sift 1/2 cup of cocoa powder over the chocolate mixture and whisk to incorporate the cocoa (this may take a few minutes and require scraping down the sides of the bowl).

Pour the mixture into your springform pan and place into the 9×13 pan (*see my note above if your pan will not fit). Place in oven and add boiling water to the 9×13 pan, filling it about halfway up the side of your springform pan. Bake for 25 minutes.

Remove the springform pan and cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Carefully (carefully!remove the sides (you might want to use a knife and just go around the sides first to make sure nothing sticks. Gently turn the cake out onto a serving plate and remove the paper from the top.

When the cake is completely cool, garnish with sprinkled cocoa or powdered sugar. Or if you’re feeling crazy and motivated, a ganache topping would put this dessert over the top!

I made these last Saturday and was writing about it on Facebook. My brother actually made the recipe that night too and was very pleased with how his turned out! He suggested adding peanut butter chips. I think that is an excellent idea.

Linking up with…

Cooking Thursday

Miscellaneous Tuesday

Ah, finally time to relax a little. It was a busy day and I feel like I’ve been going non-stop. Tuesdays always start out early because my oldest has a before-school program and I drive him to school. Now, I don’t know about you, but hate, absolutely hate Daylight Savings Time. Losing that one hour sets me back for so long. Not to mention, I love my early morning light and now I miss it terribly.

After that, I came home, got my other son ready for school and on the bus, then it was off to story hour at the library. Of course, I enjoy hanging out at story hour as much as my littlest does so I guess that doesn’t really count as a “to-do” on the list 😉

This afternoon I took care of many baskets full of laundry, fielded several e-mails and phone calls, put all the patches on Jake’s Boy Scout shirt, found a toggle clamp for Drew, and still managed to get dinner (roast chicken, potatoes, and steamed snap peas) in the oven, get the kids fed, get Jake dressed in his uniform, and make up a plate for Drew so he could quickly have a bite before taking Jake to scouts.


So much for my wonderful idea of spending this rainy afternoon crafting. Yeah… that didn’t happen at all. Well, now I plan to have a cup of tea and curl up in bed with the final season of Weeds. Tomorrow should be a little less chaotic. I hope!

That Kind of Week


Hoo boy. What a week. It was what I called a “grumpy cat week.” I’ve been in a bad mood, things have been going wrong, and then we got a bunch of snow dumped on us. Yup. It was that kind of week.

I don’t even remember what started going wrong or when, but I think (hopefully) it’s all behind me. There are a few annoying loose ends I need to tie up, though (nothing major for my family personally — but I’m stuck in limbo while I wait for people to help resolve an issue of conflicting events).


Oh yes! And then the snow. The snow day is the root cause of the above-mentioned issue. So not only was the 10 inches way more than they predicted, but it caused all kinds of problems. I tried to make the best of it. I didn’t have much cleaning to do, so I had some crochet-time and got to watch a little TV. I also made Flubber with the kids. How crazy-perfect is this photo? Lest you think my kids all cooperate and get along like this all the time… well, excuse me while I double-over laughing! But they actually were really good yesterday. I think they were all just excited about making something gross, LOL.


This morning I worked at the library and this afternoon I set about to make a flourless chocolate torte for a church event tomorrow. The first one I made did this when I flipped it over:


What a bummer! On the upside, we all got to taste it and I now know that it is yummy. I made a second one and was a lot more careful. I think I’ll post the recipe for you next Thursday 🙂

Well, I ought to get dinner started. Nothing terribly exciting tonight — just some spiced apple chicken sausages I pulled from the freezer. Sometimes it’s just gotta be food on a plate, ya know? Hopefully I’ll get my blog mojo back for next week!