Saturday, May 30, 2009

ABC & 123's Summer Prize Picnic

Welcome to a super fun picnic and thank you for visiting Schweri Stories!

picnic button
I am a Stay-at-home-Mom to three amazing children.

Nathan is 8

Topher is 6

Lillian is 3 - going on 21.

For nearly 10 years I have been married to Patrick and we are so proud of each of our kids. I fill my days with precious "Mommy/Lilly Time", lots of volunteering at the boys school and I find my self subbing in various classrooms at least once or twice a week. I sub on a last minute basis so if you ever walk in my home and see the lunch makin' staples strewn about you can guess I received the call to sub minutes before we were heading out and had to throw together an extra lunch.

Schweri Stories originally started for me as a way to keep track of what my kids have been up to for the year. I have been an traditional scrapbooker for over 6 years but rarely find the time to sit down with my books, which means I am about 7 years behind on my children's memories. By blogging I knew I would at least have a great reference when I finally reach 2009 in my scrapbooks. I WILL be caught up by the time they graduate, mark my words!

We {heart} picnics at our house, especially at the beach. As a family we are not going on vacation, opting instead for a "staycation." The kids, however, have a lot of great activities lined up for summer break. Nathan will be going to Mexico for 2 weeks and church camp for 1 week this summer. Both boys will be taking swimming lessons for 2 weeks and Cub Scout day camp for 3 days. Patrick has a week of vacation at the end of July and we will certainly make the most of our new State Park sticker and have loads of picnics in the sand.

I have been following ABC & 123 since the beginning and have even been featured! My great friend Katie, one of the Katie's of ABC & 123, has a wonderful blog and is where I received the inspiration to start my own.

I am so excited you stopped by Schweri Stories and learned a bit about my family. Have a great summer!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

10 of 52

What a week! I returned from an incredible trip to Cedar Point on Sunday afternoon and what I thought would be a couple of uneventful weeks before summer break has been nothing of the sort. Just these past few days I have been called last minute to sub and will be on the same job through Monday, thankfully they are a great group of 3rd graders. Whew!

Now to remember if I've been in any pictures lately...

Thank goodness for Facebook and every person who has posted random pictures from my brothers wedding and rehersal last week. This one was taken by the bride-to-be at the rehersal dinner. Next to me is the bride's sister, Rachel, and sitting with her is my niece Ana. If only my darling daughter could have managed to keep her eyes open for this cute picture.

Visit Forever in Blue Jeans for other Mom's in their pictures

********************52 Weeks********************
52 Weeks is a year long challenge for YOU to be in a picture once a week for 52 weeks. We are always the ones behind the camera, this is YOUR chance to get out in front and be in the pictures with our family. We are glad you are joining this challenge. More importantly your family will really enjoy having you in the picture. Thanks for playing along! Oh, you can just jump in now with 1 of 52, you're not getting off that easy! Now go take a picture!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Iron Chef: Potatoes

First things first - Uncle Ron, go ahead and move on to your next stop cuz I'm talking food here.
Okay... now down to business. In April I was so excited to win the Iron Chef:Blogstyle competition at Sacred and Profane . Perhaps afraid I would win again with my arsenal of awesome recipes I was honored when Heidi asked me to be a guest judge for this month's competition: Potatoes! I love cooking so I was happy to help out and now here is what my family and I thought of each dish. We ranked each dish 1-5 with 5 being best and worthy of seconds.

Basil and Thyme Potatoes submitted by Sneaky Momma

1 1/2 to 2 lbs potatoes, cut into small (about 1") pieces
2 tbsp chopped fresh or 2 tsp dried basil leaves
1 tbsp chopped fresh or 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic salt

1. Heat oven to 375°.

2. Place potatoes in ungreased pan. Mix remaining ingredients; sprinkle over potatoes.

3. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Turn potatoes. Drizzle with more olive oil, if desired. Bake uncovered 20 to 30 minutes longer.

The potatoes make a great main dish when on a meat-free kick. You can use whatever kind of potatoes you have on hand (the original recipe calls for new potatoes) and they still turn out oh-so-yummy. I tend to add a little bit more olive oil when it's time to turn them over in the oven, because, well, we like 'em better that way! Of course, you could always add chicken to the pan prior to adding the basil and thyme mixture for a complete meal, as Betty intended

I had red potatoes on hand so that is what I used in this recipe. I often use red potatoes because they taste great with the skins on which means NO peeling and much easier to work with. These were a nice change to our normal veggie routine but they could have used more seasoning for my taste. Patrick found a great way to use up the left over potatoes by frying them up with eggs and onions for breakfast. Here is how our family judges ranked this dish:

Nathan 5

Topher 3
Patrick 3
Lilly - nope
Me - 3
Overall vote: 3


Texas Style Mustard Potato Salad submitted by
One Pink Fish
•4-8 large russet potatoes
•6-10 boiled eggs
•sweet relish (you can use dill-if you like it better)
•mayo or miracle whip
•salt, pepper, garlic salt, season salt or paprika

1. Boil the eggs and allow to cool. I use 2 more eggs than I have potatoes.
*Add or subtract eggs as needed for your families taste.

2. Boil the number of potatoes you need for your family. Boil until fork inserts easily into potatoes. You know if you like them to me more mashed or solid... either way is fine.
*I usually use about 6 potatoes. We love this potato salad even better on day 2 or 3.

3. After potatoes have boiled, run them under cool water. When you are able to touch them but they are definitely still hot, peel the skin off of all the potatoes. Place them in a large mixing bowl.

4. Chop or mash the potatoes to the consistency you prefer.

5. Sprinkle a generous about of salt and pepper, about half that amount of garlic and seasoned salt.
*I sometime omit the season salt. Really depends on the day.

6. Add in 2 large table-sized spoonfuls of mayo or miracle whip.

7. Add in a very generous squirt of mustard. Ahhh, go ahead and add 2.
*NOTE: If the potato salad gets to tangy, just add more mayo.

8. Dump in a generous amount of relish. I would guess at least a half of cup.

9. Stir and mix and mix and stir. By this time your potato salad should be very yellow.
*My husband has used the word radio active, I think. I promise it very good.

10. Take a little taste. Add relish, seasoning, mayo and of course more mustard until it taste right to you.
*Don't forget to stir and mix every time you add more "STUFF".

11. Once you get the taste you like course chop the eggs and stir those in as well.

12. Take one last taste to make sure it is yummalicious. If so, proceed to next step. If not, repeat step 10.

13. Cover and place in refrigerator for as long as possible. Over night is best, but I tend to not be ahead of the game and sometimes only get 1 hour.

14. Sprinkle with paprika before serving. Omit this step if you like.

YET ANOTHER NOTE: I sometimes add shredded carrots into my salad for color and a little more veggie content. Doesn't really change the flavor much.

Hope you like this recipe. I know it takes awhile to make, but the results are so good. It's worth it!

This was a great treat for Memorial Day Weekend, it went great with our grilled turkey burgers. As I made this dish I realized I have never attempted potato salad before and thankfully this was super easy. I just wish I had given myself more time before dinner because it really is even better the longer it has to chill. Again I used red potatoes and I chopped the taters before I boiled them so I wouldn't have to mess with playing hot potato while peeling and cutting. The Judges weigh in:

Nathan 5 {he had three helpings}
Topher 4
Lilly again no bribing would get her to try it
Patrick 4
Me 4
Overall vote: 4

Easy Baked Potato Soup submitted by A List Maker's Life
3 to 4 medium baking potatoes, baked
5 bacon strips, diced
2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed cream of potato soup, undiluted
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cheddar cheese soup, undiluted
3-1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Dash Liquid Smoke, optional
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
Shredded cheddar cheese

Peel and dice the baked potatoes; set aside. In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels. Drain, reserving 1-1/2 teaspoons drippings.

Add the soups, milk, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, pepper, Liquid Smoke if desired and reserved potatoes to the drippings. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Stir in sour cream, cook for 1-2 minutes or until heated through (do not boil).

Garnish with cheddar cheese and bacon.
Yield: 10 servings (2-1/2 quarts).

It was a bit hard for me to get in to soup mode with the great warm weather we have had{hence the lack of photos on this one}but this recipe is worth the trouble. I felt like Sandra Lee from the show "Semi-Homemade" because of the all the store bought ingredients that are mixed together for this tasty treat. If you are watching your fat and calorie intake this may not be the soup for you but if you want a warm delightful comfort food then you must try this. Judges, your vote please:

Nathan 5
Topher 4
Lilly alas... doesn't eat soup either - she's 3 whatdaya want?
Patrick 5
Me 5
Overall: 5 and the winner in our book!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Where have I gone?

I am leaving today...

and I'm not taking any kids with me...

or my husband either...

call me Thelma and my pal Andrea can be Louise...

we're hittin' the road and not stopping until we reach -

I am especially looking forward to riding this ride pictured, the Top Thrill Dragster - woo hoo! See ya all on Sunday!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

9 of 52

I'm there, can you see me? I am the one wearing a pink shirt, holding the camera in one hand and a yummy mint mocha in the other.

Of all the pictures I took at the salon wouldn't you know that not a one is of me... but it just so happens that I caught myself in this one when snapping a picture of my youngest sister getting all dolled up for the wedding. Don't you love her hair?

My other sister is also in the mirror to the side with a million rollers in her hair - it took an hour and a half under the dryer to get her curls set!

The hair dresser is a friend of our family whom I have not seen since I was a very little girl - it was a fun moment when we saw each other again for the first time.

Overall we spent about 5 hours in the salon before the wedding. We had 4 bridesmaids, 2 flower girls, my niece and one very beautiful bride being helped by simply two wonderul ladies that day. We all had such a good time and reminisced about what a stinker my brother is. If he only knew...

Join the 52 Week Challege at Forever in Blue Jeans, you'll be so glad you did!

********************52 Weeks********************
52 Weeks is a year long challenge for YOU to be in a picture once a week for 52 weeks. We are always the ones behind the camera, this is YOUR chance to get out in front and be in the pictures with our family. We are glad you are joining this challenge. More importantly your family will really enjoy having you in the picture. Thanks for playing along! Oh, you can just jump in now with 1 of 52, you're not getting off that easy! Now go take a picture!**************************************

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Special Walk

Recently my friend Katie, the mother of three enchanting young children, mentioned that she loves the itty bitty baby phase and now that her youngest is 6 months she is beginning to miss it. I found this so interesting because I had a very different revelation in my life recently.

In the past year my youngest has potty trained, can feed herself and tell me what hurts when she doesn't feel good. My two older boys make themselves breakfast, get dressed for school and are learning to manage their own time in order to get out of the door in a timely manner, which leaves me time to *finally* take care of myself and not always look like I just rolled out of bed {this is especially handy when the afternoon some how sneaks up on me - daily!}.

As the parent of infants I found it very hard to play pretend or get past the sleepless nights and guessing what could possibly be causing the endless crying... is it a simple belly ache or a serious full-blown ear infection? Now that my kids are on to the next phase I have found a new joy in parenting these 3 unique individuals. Nathan often accompanies me to the store where we discuss school and the choices he is faced with as well as any life lessons we happen to see along the way. Lilly still needs a lot of redirection but even so she has come a LONG way since her terrible two's - trust me - otherwise I'd be talking about the daughter I used to have but sold to gypsies long ago.

Topher, on the other hand, has always had a quiet and reserved way about him. I often wonder if anything I say is getting through to him. He is the example of a model student while at school but at home he frustrates the tar out of me. I am happy he is such an individual and not easily swayed but the masses - but just once I wish it was not to my detriment. **sigh**

Tonight both boys had baseball games but, wouldn't you know, not at the same place. Patrick dropped Topher and I off at the field just as his game was starting and then left to go a few towns over for Nathan's game. Unfortunately, or fortunately as I now reflect, it left Toph and I stranded at the ball field once his game wrapped up. BTW: Topher had 2 home runs tonight {he is in t-ball and the last batter runs all the bases to bring the team in... so he gets 2 home runs every game... but it sounded pretty good didn't it?}

As we headed towards the road a teacher from the boys school who knows we walk to and from school each day asked if we had the car tonight and offered to drive us home when I explained that we didn't. Though I was very tempted to accept, I turned down her offer, figuring a little exercise wouldn't do any one any harm.

On our walk home I had a rare chance for alone time with my middle child and we had great conversations about so many things. I love explaining to my kids how the world works and what makes things go round. He was wondering how the street light knew to change and what the green stuff was growing on top of the water in the ditch. He received a lesson on walking against traffic and the proper way to cross a super busy street - all things he should already know but I was able to put in to practice and reinforce.

It all seems so simple but I can not express how much I love talking with my boys as young men and teaching them the few things I know. They are at such a great and curious age that I enjoy more each and every day. It is amazing that they are already this grown up and nearly finished with another year of school. My babies are becoming fine young men before my eyes and I am grateful for the special walk I had with Topher tonight.

Monday, May 18, 2009

They're Hitched!

Saturday my brother married the most perfect woman for him and I am so excited to have a great sister-in-law. Here is a snap shot my Dad took during our photo session, I am hoping to have more to share soon. I love weddings!

I am the bridesmade in the middle {the short one}, Patrick is the second groomsman in and the blonde flower girl is my pretty little Lil' looking up at her favorite uncle kissing her new aunt.

Congratulations Ryan and Claudia!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

We're off to a wedding!

Wedding fever! My cousin was married two weeks ago and my brother is up next on Saturday. I had not planned another post before we left but I REALLY do not want to leave that image of myself up until we get back on Sunday... SO...

I will leave you with this fun image of the kids hitting the road instead. Have a great weekend everyone!!!

8 of 52

I am in a hurry and wanna get this posted before we head out of town - for my little brother's wedding, YEAH! I have washed more clothing than I thought possible and have been making piles of things I simply can't forget. I hope, hope, hope I have remembered everything. Here is what I look like, late at night, taking my own picture. Not a pretty sight... but at least my eyebrows look good!

Wow, those arms make me think "Popeye," don't ya think? Head over to Forever in Blue Jeans to see other Mom's at work.

********************52 Weeks********************
52 Weeks is a year long challenge for YOU to be in a picture once a week for 52 weeks. We are always the ones behind the camera, this is YOUR chance to get out in front and be in the pictures with our family. We are glad you are joining this challenge. More importantly your family will really enjoy having you in the picture. Thanks for playing along! Oh, you can just jump in now with 1 of 52, you're not getting off that easy! Now go take a picture!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ribbon Craft Challenge

Ribbon - no sweat, or so I thought. When Heidi at Blue Eyed Blessings announced this months craft challenge I thought I'd have no problem entering something. Today is the last day and here I am finally entering my ribbon craft. I made two "pretties," one for my daughter and one for my niece to wear in my brother's wedding this Saturday. My ultra-talented sister made their dresses which does not compare to my hot-glue and ribbon adventure and since we live hours away from each other I have yet to see the dresses so I am REALLY hoping I picked the same shades of pink and green.

Too see more awesome creations with ribbon and of course to find out the next month's craft challenge head over to Blue Eyed Blessings!

Lillian Leibovitz

Join Three Bay B Chicks, Domestically Challenged, and I'm Living Proof that God Has a Sense of Humor as they celebrate art and being creative this week. These three blogs are sponsoring an event called "We Heart Art," which gives you the chance to not only showcase your artwork or creative projects, but also your kid's handiwork. Prizes for children and adults will be awarded to a few lucky winners selected at random.

My darling little Annie Leibovitz in the making loves to snatch my camera and take loads of random photos. I often let her do this because of the care she gives my camera even though she is just 3 years old. Mostly I delete the half faces or blurry images that appear but every so often there is a gem in the midst of the junk. I posted this photo {she is wearing a Dutch Costume and this picture captured the folds of her apron and tips of her wooden shoes} last week with all of my Tulip Time fun. Her perspective is so remarkable that I am posting it again for the "We Heart Art" carnival since it is truly an original work of art by my Sweet Lillian.

Topher van Gogh

Join Three Bay B Chicks, Domestically Challenged, and I'm Living Proof that God Has a Sense of Humor as they celebrate art and being creative this week. These three blogs are sponsoring an event called "We Heart Art," which gives you the chance to not only showcase your artwork or creative projects, but also your kid's handiwork. Prizes for children and adults will be awarded to a few lucky winners selected at random.

Topher Douglas van Gogh made this great piece in Kindergarten last year. The art that he made and brought home surprised me for such a little fella. There are so many pieces I enjoyed, took pictures of and have stored until his high school graduation (in 2020!). I love this because it was the first time he had done so well staying in the lines and clearly paid attention to what was being taught.

Nathan Picasso

Join Three Bay B Chicks, Domestically Challenged, and I'm Living Proof that God Has a Sense of Humor as they celebrate art and being creative this week. These three blogs are sponsoring an event called "We Heart Art," which gives you the chance to not only showcase your artwork or creative projects, but also your kid's handiwork. Prizes for children and adults will be awarded to a few lucky winners selected at random.

My budding Picasso created this incredible piece in 1st grade last year. I was so impressed with the boys school in Alma last year and their art teacher was no exception. They came home with so many neat and well done pieces, it was hard to choose my favorite. I only wish I had a blooming bush just like this outside my window to enjoy.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lasagna Deliziosa

Do you love lasagna? Do you despise the time it takes or cringe at the thought of all that cheese on your waistline? Do I have a recipe for you!
I made this great lasagna, homemade garlic bread in my "new" bread machine and a tasty tossed salad to take over to my Mom's house for Mother's Day last night. The lasagna is so good and, if you can believe it, lower in fat too. My finicky little eaters even asked for seconds the first time I made this, so you know it is worthwhile.
Link up over at Crackers and Chaos today for A Recipe a Week, you might just find a new favorite to try while you are there.

Lasagna Deliziosa

9 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 package (20 ounces) Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (12 ounces) tomato paste
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons Domino® or C&H® Granulated Pure Cane Sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 carton (15 ounces) reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, cook the sausage, beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.

Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, water, sugar, basil, fennel and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl, combine the egg, ricotta cheese, parsley and salt. Drain noodles and rinse in cold water. Spread 1 cup meat sauce in a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with three noodles, 2 cups meat sauce, 2/3 cup ricotta cheese mixture, 2/3 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Repeat layers twice.

Cover and bake at 375° for 40 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until a thermometer reads 160°.

Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Yield: 12 servings.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

~I love you, in every season~



Thank you for making me the happiest Mother in the whole world, I love you, my little monkeys!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ranch Potato Salad

Today I am going to get the most bang for my buck, er, post. I love to join Katie at A Listmaker's Life for Saturday Salads and I also want to show some love to Heidi at Sacred & Profane for Iron Chef: Blog Style.

I found this yummy recipe on Taste of Home's website that I can't wait to try. The Iron Chef Challenge:May is Potatoes, white or gold, but since I WON last month's challenge I figure the fact that my recipe calls for red potatoes is all good because I am a guest judge this month and can't enter the competition anyway.

This is where showing Heidi some love comes in - her link up ends Tuesday and she needs at least 3 recipes but as of today there is only one. One? Is it possible bloggers don't have awesome potato recipes to share? Or could it be that you are all too modest and don't realize how super awesome your potato recipe really is? How am I gonna judge that? I have a hungry family to try these out on and just one recipe sort of defeats the purpose of judging - right?

So I urge you to visit Sacred and Profane and link up your favorite potato recipe so I have something yummy to make my family this month {just look at those poor boys, wasting away}. An added bonus is the riot you'll have reading Heidi's blog. You only have until Tuesday so show me whatcha got!

Ranch Potato Salad


2 pounds red potatoes
1 bottle (8 ounces) ranch salad dressing
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1 package (2.8 ounces) real bacon bits
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Dash garlic powder

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until tender.
In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (dressing will be thick). Drain potatoes and cut into cubes; add to the dressing and gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until chilled. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Tulip Time Highlights

Here are some of my favorite pictures from Friday's last performance. The boys both had baseball games so they could not be with me, but Miss Lil' was and she was loving the attention. She surprised me with her imitation of many of our dance moves, I honestly didn't think she was paying that much attention. In this picture she is doing what she calls the "hey" move, most likely because once the dancers kick in a circle they shout "hey" as they start to go the opposite direction.

I was SO late to the mornings performance that we were sure to be SO early to the evening one, which meant we had time to walk around and look at local shops. Outside of this particular store was a sign reading "Welkom, All Jackets 30% Off." Lilly pointed to it and said [in her best adult voice] "Mamma, this sign says 'Do not touch the flowers.'" I laughed so hard because she has never done anything like that before and it is something I must have been saying alot. In Holland there are big fines for damaging Tulips so I made sure she didn't touch. After that she correctly identified the letter "L" on the sign and then we reviewed all of the other letters - we had an ABC lesson while wearing wooden shoes!
Lilly asked for my camera and when I looked through my pictures later I found this neat one of her capturing the edge of her own skirt and tips of her wooden shoes. I really like the way it turned out.
All week I tried desperately to get pictures of the kids with the tulips but found it very difficult to get all three to cooperate. The few pictures I did get at the beginning of the festival somehow deleted from my camera... so I was delighted when Lilly sat in front of these pretty pink tulips and asked me to take her picture. After my shock I quickly snapped a few, included her taking time to smell the flowers.

This is a traditional pose that the dancers do for the tourists so they can take pictures of us, although it is typically at the end of our 20 minute long dance and we are hot and red faced... but the folks don't seem to mind. I had so much fun with Lilly and am thankful to have this one for our scrapbooks. Our group of dancers are the best ladies and I really enjoyed seeing each of them every night for the past week, I can't wait for Tulip Time next year!

Friday Fun

Tulip Time is wrapping up now that the week is almost done. Lilly and I had some downtime between my dance performances so we borrowed season passes from Katie and headed over to Dutch Village in Holland. Though I lived in Holland for a good 4 years I never ventured in to Dutch Village and was very curious to see what it was all about. If you have ever been wondered about Dutch life and culture I would highly recommend a visit.

We looked at many different horse drawn carts and the history of each

we rode the "high-in-the-sky" swings

found the perfect horse to ride on the carousal

and even walked a goat!

This is a big wooden shoe play house with a bumpy, static-hair inducing slide

there were ducks

and water fountains

and of course a windmill!

The boys were in school which is why they missed out on our fun day. After our visit to Dutch Village we headed back downtown to 8th Street for one final dance.