Happy last week of summer…BOOOOOOO. Okay so let me preface by saying I LOVE LOVE LOVE all things autumn, but I am not ready for the crazy pace we keep when school is back in session. The homework, the projects, the lunches packed solely by moi, the drop offs and pickups at two different times which equals 4 separate runs up to the kids schools’, the permission slips, the conferences, being class helper, chaperoning dances, working the middle school store…you get the picture. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the volunteering that I am fortunate enough to do at the kids’ schools, but the pace is crazy. Plus, I miss my babies when they are at school. Even when they are bickering and driving me nuts, I’d rather they were home. Anyway, I was able to experiment with a few new recipes over the last few weeks, and here they are.
The first recipe is for home made crazy bread. My Ryan, LOVES “Little Caesars” crazy bread. He doesn’t eat pizza, so if we get pizza for dinner, I make sure to get crazy bread for him. I came across a recipe for crazy bread on Pinterest, and knew immediately I wanted to make it for my Ryan. The only problem was that it required a can of refrigerated pizza dough, and I never have that at home. The next time I went to the grocery store, I made sure to pick one up, and gave it a shot. The result? YUM. Unfortunately, Ryan didn’t care for the breadsticks. He is so darn picky. It would have been cool to be able to replicate his favorite “takeout” food, but no such luck. Oh well, the rest of us liked them. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://www.food.com/recipe/little-caesars-crazy-bread-75531
The next recipe I tried was for strawberry chocolate chip muffins. I made these in the attempt to use up some strawberries that I had. Whilst at the grocery store, the berries looked so yummy that I overindulged. Victoria and I are the only people in our house who enjoy strawberries so two containers of berries is plenty. Organic berries can be pricey, so when I saw them on sale, I lost my mind for a few minutes, and bought four containers of them. Vic and I did a good job of eating the fresh berries, but our consumption of them slowed after a few days, and the expiration date was approaching quick. So, I decided to look through my recipes for a way to use them up, before they got mushy. I found this recipe on Pinterest, and it looked yummy. As an added bonus, it’s a healthier muffin recipe in that it contains only egg whites, and requires no butter or oil. The first time I made these muffins, they were gone in a flash. Dan, Victoria, and I LOVED them. Ryan didn’t care for them, but he did try them so that was a step up. The recipe only makes 10 muffins at a time, so we finished them the same day I made them. I have since baked three more batches of these yummy muffins, and we enjoyed them just as much. I would definitely make these again and again. Some time, I’d like to try and substitute raspberries for the strawberries. I think that would be delicious. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/01/03/skinny-strawberry-chocolate-chip-muffins/
The next recipe that I tried was for spinach burgers. As vegetarians, I am always on the hunt for a good “veggie friendly” burger recipe. I love love love me a good burger, I totally love spinach, and I’m trying to limit our soy consumption. That said, these were an immediate attention grabber. I have made other spinach burgers in the past that we love, but I wanted to try another version. I am happy to report that they are delicious. I would definitely make them again. Here is the link to the recipe that I used:http://thevillagecook.com/spinach-burgers/
The last recipe I tried was for skinny mac and alfredo. I already had spinach on the brain, and I had a bit left over from the spinach burgers, so this recipe was perfect. It did contain an ingredient that I never have on hand though…jarred alfredo sauce. I love alfredo sauce, but I hate how much fat it usually contains. When we indulge, and eat alfredo sauce at home, I make it myself…I don’t buy it jarred. Anyway, I needed to pick up a jar of light alfredo sauce for use in this recipe, and as soon as I did, I made this dish. It is delicious! It is like a healthier version of a white cheese macaroni and cheese dish. I will still make traditional mac and cheese, but I will also happily add this to the rotation of yummy dinners that I make for the fam. Ryan, of course, wouldn’t eat it, but the rest of us loved it! Here is the link to the recipe that I used:http://www.skinnymom.com/2013/03/06/skinny-mac-alfredo/?_szp=255570
In the last few days of summer, we are booked solid. Over the weekend, we had a bonfire on Friday, a pool party/BBQ on Saturday, plus two birthday parties, and Ryan’s first soccer practice on Sunday. Yesterday, we had the Middle School’s “Tiger Days,” which is like an orientation of sorts. Victoria was able to pick up her schedule, her locker assignment, and get her school id, yearbook, and 8th grade photo taken. She also got an extra supply list that is specific to her Academy classes, so after Tiger Days, we took a trip into Richmond to get said supplies and some “back to school”clothes. On Wednesday, I have to go to Gordon’s Food Service to pick up all the food for the elementary’s “Back to School Open House” that is scheduled for Thursday. It is a day in which all students and families, can come to school and meet their teacher, check out their classroom, and then enjoy an early dinner compliments of the parent group. I have been the chairperson of this event for the last four years, and I am chairing it again this year. It’s always such an exciting day for the kids, as they get to see which friends are in their class, and meet their new teacher. I love all the excitement in the building, and I love running into school friends we haven’t seen since June. My fingers are crossed for Ryan that he has a few of his good friends in his classroom. I know he will be fine and make plenty more, but it’s always nice to see a familiar face that first week.
With summer winding down I have been reflecting over the last few weeks, and all we were able to do as a family. We purposefully didn’t plan any vacations this summer as we were planning a trip to New York in the fall. Well, after July 12th (which I referenced in an earlier post…the day our water softener system, sump pump, and car died at the same time), and last week, we are tapped out. On Wednesday of last week, we had to replace the windshield of the newer Xterra, and have the clothes dryer fixed! Man, this was totally the summer of home/car repairs! Currently, the new Xterra needs to be serviced AGAIN as the brakes have begun to squeak, and the passenger window gets stuck in the down position. It’s not crazy given that the vehicle is 6 years old, but come on. I have said it before and I will say it again. I love the freedom that owning a vehicle provides, but if we had a really great public transportation system here in Michigan, I think I’d park the car and ride. What a pain it is to keep a vehicle up and running. This particular vehicle is going to be paid off in a matter of weeks, so we are desperately attempting to keep both vehicles running until we can free up some monthly monies to finance a newer vehicle. Our other car is 14 years old, so we are literally driving on borrowed time! UGH…the pleasures of being a responsible adult never cease!! I really am going to invent a font just for sarcasm!!
In retrospect, despite all the unfortunate expenses, we did manage to have a great summer together. We were able to take two different day trips with the kids, and they were great! First we took them to the thumb, where Dan and I spent so much time early in our relationship together. Both sets of Dan’s grandparents had homes in Caseville, so Dan literally grew up on Lake Huron. He spent countless summers and vacations with them on the lake. I started visiting with him when I was 17, and we religiously spent time in Caseville until both cottages were sold after his grandparents passed. We got engaged on Jenks Beach in Port Austin in 1993, so the area definitely holds an extra special place in my heart. It was very sad for both of us to go “up North”, and not have family there, so we stopped going. We hadn’t been to Caseville in a number of years, so we decided to take the kids and show them the places we used to hang out. We stopped in Bad Axe and went to “Norman’s” aka the store that time forgot. It is such a throwback. We loved it. We actually went in for a few laughs, but came out with a few bags full of bargains. I have been looking for snow pants for 5 years and I couldn’t find any I liked that didn’t cost a fortune. I was at Norman’s for approximately 5 minutes, and I found snow pants I like for…wait for it… $20.99!!!!! SCORE!! Ryan got a new backpack and few pairs of shoes, Victoria found a cute sundress and jacket, and Dan got a hat and a few five dollar backpacks that he plans to stock and keep in the basement in case of a zombie apocalypse. Seriously, in the event of a zombie take over, get to our place as fast as humanly possible. Unless of course you have been infected, in which case don’t come here as Dan is totally ready for you!! 😉
In addition to Norman’s, we took the kids to all the places we used to visit in Caseville and Port Austin. I think my favorite part was… the whole day. At one point I looked at Dan whilst we were playing “Bank Shot Basketball” with our children, and had total flashbacks of us being there before we were even old enough to vote! It was crazy. We also took the kids by both of the homes where their Great-Grandparents lived, the used bookstore in town, the beach where we got engaged, and the pier where Dan carved our initials into the guardrail. It was unreal to revisit these places with the kids in tow. We ended the day with a stroll on the Port Austin Pier to watch the sunset, and look at the lighthouse. It was a great day. We had compiled a huge agenda for the day, and only got through about 45% of it. We definitely want to take the kids back, and show them all the other special places that time didn’t allow us to visit this trip.
The second day trip was much closer to home. We went from Marine City to Fort Gratiot and stopped everywhere we wanted along the way. Before Dan and I had children (a time we jokingly refer to as B.C. before children) we used to take all of our vacations in Michigan to visit the Great Lakes lighthouses and waterfalls. Fun fact…there are 116 lighthouses in the state of Michigan, and 199 waterfalls all but 1 being in the upper peninsula…true story. Anyway, Dan and I had been to the lighthouses in this area before, but they were all “B.C.”, so we decided to take the kids to see them. We had a great day, and made some fun memories for sure.
Being in the last full week of August is always a bit depressing. The kids go back to school next week, and late nights and endless days in the pool are officially over. We do plan to squeeze every possible moment of fun out of what is left of our summer. We have a few plans for the Labor Day weekend, and I am certain we will have a great time. In anticipation of autumn, my favorite season of the year, I am getting super excited for a few of my favorite things. Football is probably number one…GO STATE!!! I am also looking forward to the return of “The Walking Dead.” Dan and I love to watch it after the kids have gone to bed. Since it airs on Sunday nights, it actually softens the blow of Sunday evening, which is in my opinion is the worst time of the whole week. I am looking forward to cooler temps which are totally conducive to building fires, both inside and out. I am looking forward to wearing sweatshirts and sweaters, watching the leaves change colors, and celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving with my family. Most of all, I am looking forward to spending time with Dan and the kids who make every season worth living. Happy end of summer everyone. Enjoy the recipes. ♥♥