She look’s pretty good for 60…. Flip #7 – Tyler’s Renovation

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June 10th, 2011….Our Son Tyler bought his first house.

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Tyler transferred to the University of Minnesota and needed to live closer to the school. Craig & Ty went searching- and there she was, a 60 year old beauty. “She” was definitely a “Grandma” kind of house but she had great bones with vast possibilities. That summer would be filled with a ton of work. Many months later we finally finished just days before his classes started. It was a summer to remember – mostly of Allie, Tyler & myself painting tirelessly in the heat. I look back at the pictures and I am amazed not only to see the changes in the house, but of my Son as well <3

Craig & Ty started outside with the landscaping removing all the existing bushes with the exception of one huge hosta which Craig split up enough times to go around the entire house- no, really he did… make sure you look at the final pictures of the outside ; )

Allie & I headed upstairs and scraped off old wallpaper for 9 hours straight. We couldn’t feel our fingers that night…

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The kitchen is always the first area we dive into, delivery of cabinets can take an average of 4 weeks after you order them.

The upstairs was a fun project…

Not sure what the prior owner had intended with this wall but one thing for sure, he need not apply for a construction job-

The “wall” came down, a closet went in, ceilings were skim coated  & sprayed and we continued from there with lots of little extras for a beautiful bedroom for Ty.

I LOVE working with plaster and faux finishes. The venation plaster was completed in 2 days. I believe I broke some kind of record…Ty had a quick lesson when I didn’t feel like sitting on the board- he’s a chip off the ‘ole block…

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We always tear into every room at once when we renovate a house. Eventually the day came for carpet to finish the upstairs space. Somebody was VERY happy!

The living room needed some TLC…Craig tackled a lot in here. Ty, Allie & I prepped and painted every wall, ceiling, door & trim in the entire house – twice.

The two bedrooms on the main floor were not a ton of work-

BUT- the bathroom was! What a disaster! Ty took on that project with our buddy Dan. The tile apparently was never finished…. The boys did a beautiful job matching the tile and finishing it all up.

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The living room was now ready for more venation plaster- out of all the painting I’ve ever done these crimson red walls are my absolute favorite! I think I may have to do them in my downstairs as well!

Ty prepped and painted the original doors- he’s very good with restoring damaged areas – so much time and effort was needed for this project and they turned out amazing- very nice job Ty!

The basement had potential…

Sheetrock, drain tile, and a new look with fresh paint and carpet.

Allie and I are a great team for painting- in this house she learned the art of painting trim work. To me, this is the hardest and most tedious of all painting in a renovation. We discovered that Allie was extremely good at it- lucky for us – not so lucky for miss Aller….

Meanwhile, with the cabinets delivered, it was time to work on my favorite space in the house.


We all love it when the fridge goes in- so much easier when you work long hours and your food is nice and cold. I love this picture- you know when my Tyler is home when you see a spoon and a jar of peanut butter. Seeing it in his new refrigerator made me smile…

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Exterior doors & floors-
What a difference when you update your exterior doors! One of our all-time favorite things about renovating properties is when the people in the neighborhood stop by and comment on the work that we’re doing <3 We got a lot of response to the new front entry door on this house.

When Allie pulled up the old carpeting in the hallway we knew that we for sure could revive the original hardwood floors.

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After pulling a million staples out it was time for Mr. Ty to learn how to sand floors.

IMG_0395Craig’s method of teaching is as such- you are told several times how to do the process and what not to do- then he leaves. This method builds character thats for sure. Ty had everything ready to go and lets just say he learned reeeaaal fast. He got the feel for it very quick and they turned out incredible.

With the hot summer days and many coats of varnish we turned on the heat to speed the drying process. I can officially say that we did “heat yoga”. Ty & I were drenched and sore ! Its times like this with him I treasure- we work incredibly well together and its memories like that I’ll have forever.

With the floors and the majority of his house done (and his school about to start that next week!) it was time for him to move in. I was so excited for for this new chapter in his life… I cried my eyes out for two weeks because he was no longer living with us. He’s my rock with an amazing old soul.

We barely moved everything in and these two just had to try it out…

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Back home I sewed up shades, drapes & curtains-

With every flip house we always find something VERY interesting in the walls or on the premises, nothing was found here except a 60 year old organic garden! Oh my! We were beyond pumped! The original owners had built and lived there for 60 years- their whole life. She grew tomatoes and canned them and he had a little workshop in the basement and built her shelves for all her goods. That is love. Something to be said about the simplicity of the old days. After they passed, the house was sold to some guy (temporarily) who attempted to do the wall in the upstairs and the tile in the bathroom. When I overlooked those things it was fun to see what the old couple had intended. I also try to keep one item from each of the renovations to decorate in my home (it keeps me grounded and reminds me to count my blessings) I didn’t find my item for three years! This past spring I finally found it- an antique hoe in the far corner of the garage <3 Here are the pictures from when we discovered the hidden garden when he bought it to Tyler’s very first garden – no judging the weeds, he was a full time student ; ) He made great use of all the produce that came out of this fertile soil!

Something “hilarious” also usually happens on each property and this definitely was no exception! I had written a post here about how Ty & I were really into practical jokes ( My partner In Crime…)   – but not on April fools day… so the day before April 1st Tyler calls me at home- “What is going on?!!!” well, why? He continued to tell me that a huge 30 yard dumpster was just unloaded in his driveway blocking his truck in!

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Now he was already living there for 2 years and it wasn’t for him! Apparently Craig gave the dumpster company the wrong address! Our Chelsie and Ryan had just bought a house around the corner and both addresses were on Craig’s desk- oh my gosh did we laugh!

Tyler also tackled this backsplash in between his classes- its funny, you teach someone a skill and its amazing to see what they do with it!

Tyler graduated this past December 17th, 2013 and landed a job with a great company here in Minnesota . On January 10th, he left for 5 months of training in Georgia for his new job and the decision was made to sell his house. Craig & I spent the next few months helping him get it ready to sell. He listed it Thursday morning of the Memorial Day weekend and it sold in 1 1/2 days with 5 full price offers resulting in a bidding war. It sold for more than the listing price. Maybe just maybe the economy is back ?!!

Ty had a lot of great times in this house, the videographer even shot some footage for Chelsie & Ryan’s wedding there! (upcoming post!!!!!) and now he’s onto yet another chapter in his life- CONGRATULATION’S Tyler Joe- we LOVE you!!!!

Here are all of the before and after pictures. To view the picture larger, click on the image!

<3 all the best, Teri

Red, White and Blueberry Dessert Squares

Red, White & Blueberry Dessert Squares

This is a recipe I use to make a lot back in the day when Chelsie was the Jr. Queen for our city of Blaine, MN.

She went on to become the 1996Minneapolis Aquatennial Jr. Queen and is the only little Queen to ever represent Blaine in the 50 + year history of the Aquatennial.

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With over 200 plus appearances each year it has greatly influenced her to this day. Best of all, we had a wonderful time together as a family and have such great memories with all of the families that we traveled with! Best of all, we are all highly experienced at catching candy at parades…. and by the way, did I mention this is her Daddy’s favorite desert?!!

Preheat oven to 325 degree’s
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 pints (3 cups) fresh blueberries
1 – 8 oz. package 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 – 7 oz. jar marshmallow creme
1 – 8 oz. container lite cool whip, thawed
1 1/2 pints (3 cups) fresh raspberries
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups water
1 – 3 oz. package raspberry flavor gelatin

The Directions:

Crust- Combine flour and brown sugar in large bowl, mix well. Cut in butter with pastry blender until course crumbs form, stir in walnuts. Lightly press mixture in an ungreased 10 x 15 pan. Bake 10 – 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool.

Filling:
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and vanilla until fluffy. Add marshmallow creme; beat just until combined. Fold in whipped topping. Spread over cooled crust. Sprinkles blueberries over cream cheese layer- gently press berries into mixture. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until firm. Make glaze while waiting.

Glaze:
In a medium saucepan, combine white sugar, cornstarch and water; mix well. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture thickens and becomes clear. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until dissolved. Cool glaze 20 – 30 minutes tip lukewarm.

Topping:

Sprinkle raspberries over top of cream cheese mixture. Spoon cooled glaze over raspberries. Refrigerate about 1 hour until firm. Cut into squares. Top with whipped cream if desired.

 

Jacqueline de Jonge- Morning Glory

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This quilt pattern is by the amazing Jacqueline de Jonge entitled “Morning Glory”
I made this quilt for a very special couple – Andrew & Jessica Pafko who were married January 31st, 2014.
Let me introduce you….
Jessica is my insanely talented hairdresser that I absolutely adore! She is the owner of Kalon Salon located in Blaine, Minnesota… She is just a doll!

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And this is the handsome Andrew who I’ve watched grow up since he was 6 years old….

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When they announced their engagement I asked them what color they wanted for their wedding quilt and they chose red! Andrews Mom Debbie and I have been best friends for 21 years this summer. The very first story she ever told me was so special- she told me that she and her husband Jay had tried for 7 long years to get pregnant with their very first child. Deb then lost her belovedMom to breast cancer. One starry night shortly after, Deb while kneeling in prayer stared up in the night sky and saw that there was a particularly large brilliant star shining right back. Deb knew it was something special… nine months later she had Andrew who was the 1st of 6 children!
Now I wasn’t sure what pattern I wanted to do for this quilt… It was kinda funny, a quilt I had previously done kept standing out to me. I decided to go for it and when I finished it I realized that this red quilt had one very large brilliant star and 7 stars inside of it. I believe that it was divine intercession to Deb’s beautiful story <3

 

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Congratulations to Andrew & Jessica- your such a beautiful couple with an incredible future together!

The building of the quilt:
I started with a beautiful batik with lots of grown up colors and movement. I felt that with the fabrics I chose it would be a lot of fun for them to decorate around it in future homes.

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Eventually I get enough of it together to feel pretty good with the direction I’m taking it.

The quilt wasn’t quite finished for their wedding, so I took the main fabric as a teaser and made a wedding card for them in the meanwhile…

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Here is the quilt as Jacqueline’s pattern shows, but I needed it big enough to wrap them up so next came the borders…

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With the borders on it was ready to go to my very talented quilter Norma Reihm where she implemented her magic!

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Here it is all quilted- thank you Norma- you are the best!

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Triple Treat Torte

DSC_6646On Memorial Day 2014, I had the pleasure of meeting Shirley Crawford and enjoy a piece of her Triple Treat Torte. I devoured it with my eyes first… I barely made it to the picnic bench and let me tell you- WOW! This dessert is a winner! This is one of those desserts that I cannot be trusted with if you get what I mean….Thank you Shirley for sharing your recipe with us! The original recipe was made with full fat ingredients…. I switched it over to lighter ingredients in hopes of having seconds ; ) It was so delicious! Now, the problem is, I have not been feeling too great with anything “peanuts” like a lot of other people so I decided to twist this recipe up to hazelnuts, white chocolate & Nutella <3 !! It passed big time with my trusty taste tester with big compliments – Thank you Hun!

So here is Shirley’s original recipe and my hazelnut concoction follows.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Crust:
1/2 cup cold butter
1 cup flour
1/2 – 2/3 cup finely chopped roasted peanuts
Filling:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 – 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese- softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 – 8 oz. cool whip
Topping:
1 – 3 oz. pkg. instant chocolate pudding
1 – 3 oz. pkg. instant vanilla pudding
2 3/4 cup cold milk
Cut butter into flour until crumbly. Stir in peanuts. Pat mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan; bake 16 – 20 minutes- cool completely. For filling, beat powdered sugar, cream cheese & peanut butter until smooth. Fold in 1 – 8 oz. container of cool whip. Spread over cooled crust. In another bowl, combine pudding mixes and cold milk; beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Let thicken slightly. Spread over filling. Top with 1 – 8 oz. container of cool whip and sprinkle with chocolate or chopped peanuts. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Mama Carp’s White Chocolate Hazelnut Nutella Torte

DSC_7041Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Crust:
1/2 cup cold butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
Filling:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 – 8 oz. pkg. 1/3 less fat cream cheese- softened
1/2 cup Nutella
1 – 8 oz. lite cool whip- softened
Topping:
2 – 3 oz. pkgs. diet white chocolate pudding
2 3/4 cups cold skim milk
Cut butter into flour and sugar until crumbly. Stir in hazelnuts. Pat into a greased 9 x 13 pan; bake 15-20 minutes- cool completely and I mean completely…. trust me. For filling, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and Nutella until smooth. Fold in 1 – 8 oz. container of cool whip. Spread over cooled crust. In another bowl, combine pudding mixes and cold milk; beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Let thicken slightly. Spread over filling. Top with 1 – 8 oz. container of cool whip and sprinkle with finely chopped hazelnuts. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

 

Tips, Tricks & Words of Wisdom…

Often people ask me what products I use in my cooking and baking. Here is my list of what I prefer to use in my kitchen as how we are eating and preparing as of late.

As a lot of you know we are always trying to change for the good… so its possible this list will change. I have listed where I buy some of these items- I’m sure you will find them in various stores near you.

The key to my cooking is use good products that are fresh. Cook and bake with love and it’ll be awesome! Whenever possible- buy local! I cannot get enough of our farmers markets! Grow anything and everything you can! The best part is you can have fun in your kitchen preserving your grown goods for months to come! Trust this Minnesota girl- this is a HUGE good thing in the long winter months and your family will love you for it! (especially if you give some of your goodies as gifts)

Salt
I only use Iodized sea salt in all my cooking.
I love the large flake in my cooking and most people are iodine deficient.

Spices
I love love love spices and I purchase 98% of them from The Spice House. Awesome company with a great product. I freeze all my spices to preserve their freshness. And I love giving spices as gifts- you’d be surprised how excited people get!

Oil
I buy Bertolli Extra Light Olive Oil from Sam’s Club and fill an oil dispenser thats kept out by my stove. I use this in all my cooking & baking. If we’re frying we use peanut oil.

My House Seasoning
I love this mixture! Taken from Paula Dean- I order my granulated garlic from the spice house.
1 cup iodized sea salt
1/4 cup granulated garlic
1/4 cup black pepper
I have given this mixture in a really nice container I find at William Sonoma during their summer BBQ season. I put the filled container in a plastic gift bag sold at your local craft store and tie it off with a bow and handmade tag. I pair this with a favorite cook book and some grill mitts for an awesome wedding shower gift.

Roasting Chicken Breasts
I only buy bone-in skin on chicken breasts. They produce a much more moist and flavorful meat for salads, fajitas etc. Pre-heat oven to 350 degree’s. Spray your roasting pan with Pam cooking spray. Arrange chicken breasts on prepared pan. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on the skin side of breasts and season with the house seasoning. Roast in oven for 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size of your breasts ; )

Sugars
I only buy C & H sugars. They are made from pure cane sugar. Everything else is produced from beets- nothing else will do. I prefer the bakers sugar which is a finer grade. I started buying the bakers sugar when I invested in a gelato machine and needed my sugar to dissolve faster and now prefer it in all my baking & cooking.

Butter
I only use unsalted butter. Its a better quality butter and you are in control of the salt content. I always have 2 sticks out at all times at room temperature and I keep at least 8+ sticks in my kitchen freezer at all times.

Nuts
I LOVE nuts! It doesn’t matter what kind –  they are wonderful! All of my nuts are frozen to preserve their freshness- NO ONE likes rancid nuts- not even a desperate squirrel.

Vanilla
I love a good vanilla! I only use Nielsen- Massey Madagascar Bourbon pure vanilla extract- the best!

King Arthur Flour
I love their extracts, chocolates, flours and just about everything else they have to offer! I absolutely love their 1/2 sheet parchment paper- saves on clean up big time!

Oats
Believe it or not I still really like Archer Farms (Target brand) Old Fashioned Oats. I choose them over Quaker any day- I know, crazy!

Fruits & Vegetables
We try our best to buy as much organic as possible. Its so much better for you when its real.

Cheese
I think that if you can grate it yourself your getting a far superior outcome. Plus its kind of a work out to cut the cheese.

Eggs
I buy organic, cage free eggs. Brown eggs make me a happy girl : )

Milk
Organic Valley is an AWESOME company! LOVE the milk! Its the best of the best!

Yogurts
Stonyfield organic low fat french vanilla yogurt
Fage Total 0% All Natural Nonfat Greek strained Yogurt

Honey
Trader Joe’s Organic Raw Honey. Always have this on hand! Hot water, fresh lemon and this honey is the perfect RX for a sore throat.

Mayonnaise
I use Hellmann’s Light in place of regular in my recipes.

Hot Sauce
Franks Redhot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce – hands down.

Onions
Vidalia is my all time favorite! I always look forward to my Daughter Allie’s birthday (May 2nd) when we get them here in Minnesota. This onion season lasts sadly to the 4th of July when I sauté them in butter and sugar for our brats. After that is Walla Walla, then Spanish… I’m not big into red although its good in certain recipes. Sam’s Club does carry a sweet onion through the year which I always make sure to have in my cart.

Coffee

The best on the planet! Kona coffee! Trader Joe’s carries 100% Kona medium roast coffee beans. Kona coffee was listed as Forbes best bean- totally agree!

Coffee Creamer
I buy 2 bottles of creamer at a time. Coffee Mate Natural Bliss Vanilla and also in the low fat version. Upon unpacking groceries I shake them and pour half out of the regular into a measuring cup, then refill it with the low fat. Then pour the regular thats in the measuring cup into the 1/2 full low fat – now you have successfully mixed them 1/2 & 1/2… why did I come up with this? because I’m always trying to watch my weight but don’t like the low fat that well. It was a flavorful happy medium and as one gets used and the other sits in a separate fridge in waiting.

Simple Syrup
This is in my fridge at all times- its a one to one ratio, so 1 cup sugar to one cup water. In a pan mix and heat up until the sugar dissolves, don’t let this boil. Cool and store in bottle for upwards of 3 weeks. This recipe can also be infused with other flavors.

Whipped cream

It’s no secret I’m addicted to whipped cream. I buy light real cream in a can, lite cool whip in all my recipes, and on special occasions when only fresh home made whipped cream will do- 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream, a healthy 1/3 cup powdered sugar & 1 teaspoon good vanilla (try other flavors!) Put all in a tall bowl and whip on high speed until you get stiff peaks- do not over whip!!! Yummmmmmm!

Cream Cheese

I substitute 1/3 less fat cream cheese in all my recipes- so good!

This is it for now- I hope something in here works for you <3

Cinnamon Rhubarb Cake

My Mom has made this recipe as far back as I can remember! Every spring I still get so excited when the rhubarb comes up – I can’t wait to bake this and smile as I remember my younger days. It makes into a deliciously moist cake that is light and springy and fills your home with the wonderful smell of cinnamon. Bake up some memories this spring for your family.DSC_6527

 

Revised on 6/15/14

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together:
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
Add:
1 egg
To the mixture add the following dry ingredients -alternate with one cup buttermilk:
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
and stir to combine.
Stir in 3 cups chopped rhubarb and 1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
Spoon into a lightly buttered 9 X 13 pan- top with 1/2 cup sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.
Bake for 40 minutes or until done.

 

 

Mexican Chicken Pillows

I love to serve these with my Mexican fare as a wonderful side dish. It is a perfect accompaniment and delicious heated up the next day as left overs-  if there’s any left….

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Sauce:

  • 1-10 ¾ oz. can of cream of chicken soup
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon season salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ cup Monterey Jack cheese
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 of 4 oz. can diced mild green chili’s

Filling:

  • 4 oz. soft cream cheese (I use 1/3 less fat)
  • 4 Tablespoons soft butter
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon seasoning salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 of 4 oz. can diced mild green chili’s
  • 2 large cooked chicken breasts, finely chopped ( about 2 cups)
  • ½- ¾ cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons Hellman’s Light mayo
  • 2 – 8 oz. cans Pillsbury Crescent Dinner Rolls
  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 350⁰ Spray Pam cooking spray in a 9×13 casserole dish, set aside. In a saucepan, combine all sauce ingredients and heat just until cheese melts.

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For the filling- in a bowl, mix the soft cream cheese and the room temperature butter until smooth. Add in seasonings and mix until they are all incorporated. Add in the chicken, onion, chili’s, cheese & mayo- mix well.
Season with salt & black pepper to taste.

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Unroll the crescent rolls. Place about 1/8 cup on the large end, stretch slightly around and roll up.

Drizzle a small amount of sauce mixture in bottom of pan. Place the crescent rolls on top of sauce. Drizzle the remaining sauce on top of the Mexican chicken pillows. Sprinkle with 1 cup of grated Monterey Jack cheese.

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Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until light golden brown.

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I love my Mother in Law- life lessons from an Angel

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Growing up it was customary to hear Mother in Law jokes. If you hear it enough times from every direction, you grow up thinking that Mother in Laws are the worst thing on earth.
Then came Miss Marge.
The first time Craig brought me to his parents home to meet his family it was completely overwhelming to say the very least. It was Christmas day and I so nervous I was barely breathing. Craig opened the big wooden front door and there at the formal dining room table were all 7 of his beautiful sisters and his mom, Marge smiling at me. I just remember feeling very faint and Craig’s arms around me… wow, now I was really nervous! It was a lot to take in, then we went down stairs where the big party was. Three brothers, seven brother in laws, 1 sister in law and a major amount of grandkids running around opening gifts. Craig tried to prepare me with his siblings names but with them all starting with a C or K it was hard! Colleen,Connie, Kenny, Cathy, Cookie(Corrine), Christy, Cami, Kevin, Carmel, Craig & Chad- Whew! Then there was Craig’s Dad. Meeting Dick was so special- I felt as though I was the only one in the room with him. He immediately asked me one question “ Are you French?” I said yes- he smiled, pinched my cheek and said alright then. He knew. Someday I will write a whole post on him but today this is all about Miss Marge. Marge quietly watched me that day. You could tell she was someone very special. She was learning about me and after a few weeks she said something to me that I will never ever forget-“ God has given you many talents, it is your gift to give them back.” What sweet words Miss Marge- I filed them straight into my heart. She believed in me.

Craig and I were married before the year was out. They loved me and I loved them, I was a very lucky girl. The week before our honeymoon Marge showed up with a huge arm load of clothes, shoes, purses and jewelry! She knew we were the exact same size and wanted to share with me. We were girlfriends.

Through the years I would call her and she always had the time to talk. She taught me to “always call on my Angels, they’re all around you”. What a special gift she gave to me! She was a true “fire fighter” too! With eleven kids all married she would always be putting out fires, she would always take the spouses side when we would all get into tiffs- Craig would get so mad,I thought it was great! She would always calm you, love you up, make you laugh (when you didn’t want to), praise you for everything and always always remind you how very much God loves you. She was wise beyond her years. She knew that family was first and blood was thicker than water. She believed in forgiveness and love.

She couldn’t have loved our kids more, she rejoiced in every accomplishment, had endless hugs, kisses, I love you’s and prayers. When they would be faced with a problem she would always tell them “Don’t take the bait” Those words are etched in all three of them. She knew good from bad.

A favorite thing that I will always remember was when she would pop in with random gifts of food. She would load up at the store or local farmers markets and then stop to see all her kids and grandchildren and give you a few tomatoes, jars of cherry jam and candy- it didn’t matter, everything she gave you was from her heart. She loved to give.

She was an innovative woman who loved to fix up properties – and she was GOOD at it. As she got older and was no longer doing it is when Craig and I started up. She was especially excited about our 100 year old “bankers house”. She could not get enough! She stopped by weekly as we put the house back together. She pointed out a few things that she would do that Craig and I never thought of. She was a visionary. One day Craig was holding down his business and I had 6 crews working on the house. It was a very productive day and in walks miss Marge with two arm loads of food. She made everyone stop and eat. Of course the guys were thrilled- she made them all wash their hands and say grace first. She is a precious woman.

The most endearing memory I have was a particular day she stopped over. Now Dick, the love of her life had been gone for a few years- and that day I noticed she was limping. I panicked that she had fallen again. She said no, that it was her and Dicks anniversary the day before, so she put on their favorite music and danced by herself all night! She knew everlasting love.

Many lessons from this sweet soul… but the one thing that really stood out was the fact that no matter what she took the time to celebrate. If it was your birthday she was on your doorstop with a personal card just for you and money to buy something special for yourself with the reminder that “birthdays last for a whole week”. She did this until she couldn’t get around anymore. Can you imagine with the enormous family she has?!! As of today Miss Marge has 11 children, 11 more children that married in, 43 grandchildren, and 47 1/2 great grandchildren. In all of this we are only missing Craig’s dad. He would be so proud.

And one of her biggest lessons to me…
One summer night she came over with supper (Yes, how awesome!) and I was in my busy mode with three teenagers. She made me bring out the fancy dishes.. lovingly. I didn’t get it… but the fancy dishes came out. Everything she brought looked extra special in the fancy vessels…. I was thinking of all the extra work. I didn’t get it yet. We ate outside on the patio and we laughed and time stopped. Then I got it. She was teaching me to take the time to make any occasion a special celebration. I now own an astonishing amount of party ware. When Marge was recently moved into an assisted living, a sale was held to  downsize her beautiful lifelong possessions. My most prized possession from Marge was a  tarnished serving spoon that now sits proudly in my kitchen window. That spoon represents my Marge. A beautiful, fancy, useful, silver party spoon that is meant for celebrations. Nothing in this world will ever replace her. She is now in her golden years, she is the highlight at her new residence making everyone laugh and feel special. Although her memory is fading, she is even more amazing than ever.

She is the best Mother in Law that I could have ever asked for. God blessed me with a life coach of all life coaches. I’ve always rubbed her back and joked that I was looking for her wings. I learned that “most angels are not invisible and they usually leave their wings at home”. Marge, I LOVE YOU and I thank you for being the best Mother in Law ever. You are an incredible inspiration and I can only hope I can do the same for my family <3

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The Softest Buns On Earth

66This is a fabulous brioche dough recipe – great as buns for cheeseburgers or made small for sliders (hamburger,turkey, sloppy Joes, cold cuts, shredded pork and my favorite smoked brisket!) also I hit it with a stick of butter right when they come out of the oven (just like my Mom used to do back in the day) and sprinkle it with my favorite “fancy garlic salt” from The Spice House. I also serve this up with my Italian fare.

So, why this picture with this recipe? I have no idea- it just makes me laugh every time!

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  • 1/3 cup water (105⁰-115⁰)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • ¾ cup butter, room temperature
  • 3 1/3 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks (reserve whites)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Egg Wash:
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 Tablespoons water

1) Combine all your ingredients in your bread machine except egg wash . Run it on the dough cycle.
2) After dough cycle is complete, place dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times and separate into 10-12 equal pieces (depending on what size you want your buns) Roll each into a ball and place on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Put in a warm place until the rolls double in size- approximately 1 hour.
3) Preheat oven to 350⁰. Whisk together the egg wash and brush across the top of each roll. Bake on the middle shelf until lightly golden 15-20 minutes. I often sprinkle the buns with garlic salt <3

Easter feast ideas

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Easter greetings! I’m sure all of you are as anxious as I am for spring to hurry up and get here!  Easter is always a sure sign of great things to come. Whether you’re hosting an Easter get together or need to bring something to someones house here are a few ideas from my recipes that always satisfy.

My Hare today gone tomorrow snack mix is great individually packaged in Easter baskets or in a big bowl for everyone to snack on. This recipe is used ALL year long- I take advantage of all the seasonal M&M’s.

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My “go to” sides for big get togethers are my Elegant Holiday Potatoes  and also my Strawberry Spinach Salad (my most requested recipe- EVER!)

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Try this salad with shrimp for a great meal with a crusty baguette and white wine-  mmmm so good!

And my last suggestion is Mama Carp’s Butter Crunch Fluff

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Whether you serve it in a beautiful bowl or the individual mini servings this dessert is light and just caps it all off!

Wishing you all a blessed Easter and happy spring from my family to yours!