Fresh Picks (Jan 14)

I’ve skipped a few deliveries, mostly because blogging about more soup and roast veggies didn’t seem that exciting. I think last week I actually made my roast veggies into soup.IMG_8280

Kale, Cabbage, Lettuce, Spagetti Squash, Scallions, Turnips, Potatoes, Parsley.

This week I managed to get slightly more creative…

I combined cabbage, turnips, scallions, and potatoes and half the kale together for what could loosely be called Colcannon. I remembered eating it often at Irish pubs with my Irish roommate when I lived in Hong Kong. She craved it like an American craves cheeseburgers. Also in there, carrot, butter and milk.DSC_0494

The other half of the kale was used in a frittata for breakfast.DSC_0529

The spagetti squash was combined with the parsley in a recipe I found on food network: Spagetti Squash with Parsley and Pecan Pesto. Delicious.DSC_0489

I didn’t manage to use the lettuce in time…

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Too Cold for School

Aaron and Japo.

Aaron and Japo.

I was super sad when Mom left on Tuesday, having an extra set of hands was a LOT of help.

It was back to laundry and dishes every day, and suiting up the twins against the winter cold anytime I need to do anything.

Still, I was excited about the back to school schedule and all it’s perks, like a few hours of free time when the twins nap. Or all the possibilities it opens up to just drag 2, instead of 4 kids to places like the grocery store.

That excitement lasted one day. Wednesday and Thursday all the schools were closed due to the weather temperatures. Below freezing temperatures plus a big wind chill put the forecast in negative digits.

Adam wore a face mask to get to work.

Sam brushing Mom's hair.

Sam brushing Mom’s hair.

And we hunkered down. I mean, we still made it out each day, but it was usually for a small amount of time and something super simple with parking very close to the door.

One morning we spend hours in Target. See what I mean about super simple? Who knew Target could be called a ‘destination’?!

We spent hours in the toy department. I spent most of that time trying to explain to Sam and Aaron they were in a toy store, with multiple toys, with multiple of THE SAME toys so there was no need to fight over the SAME ONE.

The kids eventually bought holiday gifts with the gift card Mom gave them before she left.

Then we had lunch at the cafe. Pizza Hut pizza and Icees.

Deceptively sunny at the Target Cafe.

Deceptively sunny at the Target Cafe.

Yeah, it’s not great food and I’m sure a lot of moms are turning up their noses at me right now but it’s better than what I fed them the next day we were off school…

Thursday we were locked down again. The kids played really nicely in the morning together. That happens sometimes. Not as often as I’d like or envisioned it would happen before I had them, but when it does it makes it that much sweeter.

"Ha ha ha" races.

“Ha ha ha” races.

Some game with weapons where miraculously no one got hurt.

Some game with weapons where miraculously no one got hurt.

Jack led a bunch of games that I have no idea what they were, including the two above. I’d like to say I took more of an interest, but all I cared about was they were all getting along and there was no damage or hurt involved.

So after Ben’s therapy I rewarded them with more processed junk food.

McDonald's playroom.

McDonald’s playroom.

Friday they called school back in session, which is odd because it is even colder today than it was yesterday, but I’ve learned not to question these things, instead we hurried home to finish the homework that was due!

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New Year’s Crepes

On a drizzly winter day, we welcomed the fact that the annual New Year’s crepes get together was scheduled today.

IMG_8163Our crepe chef, Olivier, was in the weeds for hours as the kids dominated the orders this year. Jack came back for FOUR crepes!


I love going to Pam’s house. She is a Montessori trained teacher and her house is set up in little stations that make it perfect for all ages.


And the toys are all still there even though the older boys mostly play games that don’t involve very many toys at all…


My poor mother was slaving away again in the kitchen. It’s a wonder she keeps volunteering to come up and help the way we put her to work while she is here!


Besides Pam’s great spread, her husband, Doug, always manages to spend time with my kids, making them feel as welcome as the adults.


Between Doug and Adam, I was free to over eat and drink, an induldgence I took full advantage of!

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More Winter Break Fun

I hope the older boys can back into school after the break they’ve had!

Thanks to my mother, who arrived the day after we returned from the water park, the older boys are getting to do LOTs this break!IMG_7987

The last two days we left the twins with her capable hands while we whisked Jack and Ben off for more fun.

Thursday we took them to the Winter Wonderfest.


It takes two adults to take Jack and Ben because they aren’t interested in any of the same things but I must say I was proud of both of them for different reasons.

Jack was the biggest dare devil I’ve ever met. He took turns with Adam and I, spinning us dizzy on rides like the Gravatron, Tilt a Whirl, and the Cliff Hanger.

By the way, mom tip – do not go out late on New Year’s then attempt vomit inducing rides the next day.

I know it’s not normal for his age because we ran into a school buddy of his who was too scared to join him on most of the more stomach churning rides.

Jack and Timmy on the Tilt a Whirl.

Jack and Timmy on the Tilt a Whirl.

Ben on the other hand was full of fear. But Adam worked on him the same way he did at the water park. In a quiet moment he explained to Ben that the only thing that was stopping him from doing the rides was fear.

“And you know who controls your fear, Ben?” Adam asked. “You do.”

I think it might have clicked. I mean, controlling his environment is right up Ben’s alley! Next Adam said, “So let’s go defeat that slide!”

And he did.


He refused the tea cups at Great America earlier this year.

I don’t think Ben is excited about winter break ending because this morning I was trying to rush him along, asking him to hurry up and finish his breakfast because we had to go soon. Something in my voice sounded very familiar, probably much like the voice I use most school mornings because he froze up and said, “I don’t have school today?!”

No Ben, today we are rushing you along for more fun, fun, FUN!

Today we hit the Museum of Science and Industry with Jack’s school buddies.


It was jam packed but the boys didn’t notice, they were too busy having fun in the Ideas Factory…



In the Omnimax Theater…


At the Submarine…

At the Submarine

And for some Frozen Yogurt…


I think I’m going to need a vacation from this vacation!

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Timber Ridge Visit

Did anyone realize I didn’t post the last night of Hanukkah Bears?

The Jelly Belly Tour was just a detour from something much, much bigger.


Last Wednesday we woke up, hastily packed our bags and after a brief stop at Jelly Belly, drove to Lake Geneva to spend four days at Timber Ridge Resort.

It was a perfect vacation for all the kids.


This picture looks so happy and carefree, but you have no idea how long it took Adam to orchestrate it.

We couldn’t take it on the first day because Ben wouldn’t go down any of the slides. It made me very sad, since we’ve been to this park before and Ben did all the slides and was fearless. How could getting older develop MORE fear?

If Ben is the model of determination, Adam is the mold. He kept gently but firmly bugging him, asking him, joking him into these slides. It took him 2 days, but eventually he got Ben to ride 4 slides with Adam, then he got Ben to ride them by himself.

I always joke that Adam negotiates for a living and that is why we never fight but I saw him first hand in action this holiday. He never gave up, never got frustrated. It was amazing.

Adam also treated us to many, many other treats this holiday.

One morning we had Breakfast with Thomas.


It was very kid friendly. They let us keep our food during the show and the kids were encouraged to get up and interact with the show many times.

Front Row Seats to the Show.

Front Row Seats to the Show.

Decorating 'Cookies' during the Show.

Decorating ‘Cookies’ during the Show.

Dancing under the 'Snow' during the show.

Dancing under the ‘Snow’ during the show.

We also did a trolley ride one night to see the holiday lights. DSC_0463

We ended up at the sister hotel, the The Grand Geneva, for gelato.


One night we went downstairs and enjoyed story time with milk and cookies in our PJs.


Bruce the Moose made an appearance after story time.

Bruce the Moose made an appearance after story time.

Another night, BINGO! Jack won us three free pretzels by answering many questions right and afterwards everyone got a voucher for a free cookie for participating.


Adam took the boys to the game room during nap time so the twins and I could sleep.


And the older boys sweetly brought back toys and candy for the twins from their winnings.

Besides the luxury of a nap, I thoroughly enjoyed not having to plan, shop and cook three meals a day.

We ate through the entire children's menu and more!

We ate through the entire children’s menu and more!

Even just being in a hotel room with the kids and having no distractions made me less cranky and more able to pay attention and spend quality time with them.

Twins playing with their new sticker books from Hanukkah while the older boys do a new puzzle with Adam.

Twins playing with their new sticker books from Hanukkah while the older boys do a new puzzle with Adam.

It was a really nice holiday. I highly suggesting it for families with kids our age!

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Jelly Bellies

imageYesterday we took a tour of the Jelly Belly Factory in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. You can just imagine the look on the kids faces when we told them we were taking them to a candy factory!


Look they have a sample bar where you can ask for as many samples as you want! I tried egg nog. They seriously have like, every flavor you can think of.


Here we are waiting for the tour to start.


They cart you around the warehouse showing you different videos. You see candy made on these screens, not live like I envisioned. But it was still cool to see the mosaic jelly bean pictures and clothes made of jelly beans!


Afterwards, the fun part! The boys picked out their candy! Here is Jack loading up on 10 pounds of jelly beans.


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Busy Weekend

Man it was a busy weekend.

So much for hunkering down for the cold weather!

First, the Hanukkah bears have been up to their usual stuff the past few nights…

Hanukkah Totem Pole

Hanukkah Totem Pole

Superhero Hanukkah Bears Battle Godzilla

Superhero Hanukkah Bears Battle Godzilla

DSC_0365Then there was the holiday train one night followed by a dinner out at Dee’s Restaurant.IMG_2639

Another night, Zoo Lights followed by a dinner out at Eleven City Diner. Nothing like a little deli food to warm yourself after a night out at the zoo.


3D glasses for zoo light viewing.

3D glasses for zoo light viewing.

Then every night there were candles and presents…

DSC_0360And one night there were Hanukkah cookies too….

DSC_0362DSC_0363It was a great start to the older boy’s winter holiday and just wait, we have A LOT more planned for them for the rest of it as well. If I didn’t have such a happy childhood I think I’d be pretty jealous of these kids right now!

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Fresh Picks (Dec 3)

It’s been such a busy few days between getting the flu, volunteering at school, holiday parties, and all the extra work that comes with Hanukkah that I forgot to post this! already another order has come in!

Two weeks ago I received green cabbage, spaghetti squash, yellow onions, parsnips, cranberries, red potatoes, and chard.DSC_0181

I immediately got to work the next day whipping up some soup and cranberry bread. I thought both turned out good enough to share the recipes with you!

I used up half the cabbage, the potatoes, and one parsnip an adaption from Ciao Italia’s Cabbage Potato and Bean Soup. I was able to throw in some of the kidney beans from a few weeks ago that fresh picks delivered too. I really liked the way the parsnip added a sweetness to the soup.DSC_0195

I used all the cranberries in a Cranberry Cake recipe adapted from The Kitchn.


It did have a lot more sugar than I would normally let myself but it was so good people.

Cranberry Cake
Recipe type: Cake
Cuisine: Breakfast, Afternoon Treat, Dessert
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cups sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature for 1 hour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 Oz cranberries
  • ½ cup crushed candied pecans
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray loaf pan.
  2. With a stand mixer, beat eggs and sugar on medium speed for 4 to 7 minutes, using the whip attachment. The egg and sugar mixture will double in volume and turn very pale yellow, leaving ribbons on top of the batter when you lift the beaters.
  3. Beat in the butter and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes or until the butter is smoothly incorporated.
  4. Use a spatula to fold in the flour, salt, and cranberries. The batter will be quite thick. Spread gently into the prepared pan.
  5. Sprinkle crushed pecans on top.
  6. Bake for 60 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool for 20 minutes then run a knife around the inside edge of the pan and remove the cake. Cool for an hour before serving.

So good people, sooo soooo good. Seriously think about it for the holidays.

As for the spaghetti squash I just want to thank Fresh Picks for giving me this gift. I’ve never tried it before and I’m pleased to say it is SO easy to prepare and top with whatever and it comes out delish.DSC_0223

I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, brushed it with olive oil, salt and pepper then roasted it, cut side down on foil at 375° for about 45 minutes. Let it cool enough to handle then ran a fork through it and it made beautiful, spaghetti-like strands. I topped it with the steamed chard from this order, marinara and mozzarella then stuck it back in the oven and let the mozzarella melt. Would definitely make this again, and not just when Fresh Picks delivers it to me.

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More Hanukkah Bear Mischief

The Hanukkah bears were up to more mischief these past few days.

Yesterday morning when the boys woke they found the Hanukkah bears dressed up just like them…


Then this morning they found the Hanukkah bears taking a joy ride in their make shift hot air balloon…


Meanwhile the past two nights the boys opened up legos, lego calendars, huge garbage trucks that my sister bought for the twins, Harry Potter movies and more.

Jack brought home gift for all his family members from his school’s holiday bazaar. Very thoughtful stuff like a photo frame for me (even my 7 year old knows I’m addicted to my camera), a clock for Adam, and little ice cream bowls for all his siblings.

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Hanukkah Starts

Yesterday was the first day of Hanukkah and the kids were ecstatic that their wait was finally over.

DSC_0308Yes, they’re baaaaack. The kids were greeted with the Hanukkah bears yesterday morning.

In the evening they almost burst with anticipation waiting for Adam to get home from work.

We sang the Hanukkah prayer and lit the candles.

DSC_0310Well, Adam and I sung it. Ben and Jack watched. Aaron and Sam sang ‘Happy Birthday’.

DSC_0314We opened the first night’s toys. Jack and Ben actually picked out all their toys and wrapped them themselves so they knew exactly what they were getting. There is Jack’s remote control Dino car. Ben got mini superheros and villains, also Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle hot chocolate mugs from his aide. The twins got matching ambulances. We also opened up gifts from Aunt Aloha and Uncle Ronnie. Puppets, books and Macadamia Nut Chocolates.

It was a great haul for the first night! Or any night!


Then it was time for the dreidel game. Aaron tried to eat his whole stash and Ben got really upset when he lost, but Adam was able to bring him back in and show him how to play. I was proud he was able to come back and recover from his upset. Shows he’s getting better.

This morning, the bears were up to no good again…


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