Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Five Favorites: FUN-NESS!

Joining Grace this week because the undaunted Hallie is taking a trip with her 3 youngest...

1) Holyfreakingmoly! Have you guys seen this:

I just love how Jimmy Fallon seems to have the same "you know what would be cool?" thoughts that I have and then makes them happen.

2) (You're still singing the Full House theme song, aren't you?) Dempsey Summer Birthday season wrapped up yesterday (too much cake) with Maeve's 13th birthday. One of her gifts was a spa package to this new salon geared towards tween and teen girls. Honestly, if they do it right, it could be a really great way for girls to feel pampered and special without being made to look like 20-somethings ready for a night of clubbing. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

3) My Birchbox arrived! After I read Jessica's description of this awesome service, I signed right on up! Then.... Jessica went and gifted me a subscription as a "welcome to the Fabulous Forties!" gift! (side note: she is a truly thoughtful and awesome friend!) In this month's box I received a perfume sample (nice, but wears off quickly), a funky neon nail polish (actually made me look a little tan!), a shaving cream sample that is the bomb-diggety (I will be purchasing the full size), a moisturizer (jury's still out), and a hair powder (still haven't tried it). Truthfully, I have t even made it 1/3 of the way through their website's product listings, and I'm already impressed at their variety. Best part? You receive a little pick-me-up in the mail every month. That alone is worth $10/month!

4) Getting ready to paint my bedroom furniture! Last summer, I bought a dining set (table and 8 chairs) off of Craiglist, and followed this righteous Tutorial and painted it black.
I also painted that icebox cabinet you can see in the background, as well as a hope chest. We had a brand new dining room set and an entryway bench for the low, low price of $230.

So, this summer I have to paint my dresser and our 2 nightstands a shabby-chic white. We'll see how that goes, as I've never tried white before. I really enjoy transforming things around our house -- even if it means the rest of the house gets neglected for a couple of days!

5) I'm not finding a lot of time to read any great new books, but Jessica's new Linkup is sure to remedy that problem. Go check it out!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

MIM: Mustard

Joining up with The Gang for this week's edition of MIM: Mustard!

Ok, I had fully intended to make my mom's ham with brown sugar-mustard glaze* for this week's challenge. But, once again, the frappin' hot weather won out and my oven stayed dark. *I will share the recipe for the glaze at the end of this post, because it makes your ham legendary. (That sounds gross, but I don't know why..)

Instead, I had Faith help me make deviled eggs which is a popular dish around these parts. She assured me that it is "her favorite food!" and helped with so much enthusiasm that I really believed her. Turns out, when all is said and done, she no likey deviled eggs -- but everyone else does, so they were gone in a flash.

Usually, I don't give a second thought to hard-boiling eggs. The trick is to immerse them immediately in ice water when they are finished boiling. This ensures that they peel easily and neatly. Always works.

Except for this time.

Out of 8 eggs, only 4 peeled somewhat cleanly and the rest were fed to the clamoring masses (read: William. Yes, he ate 4 eggs in one sitting; ain't no thang.)
So, naturally, these were not the prettiest deviled eggs I've ever made. Not by a longshot.

Anyway, Faith and I had fun making them
and they tasted MUCH better than they looked.

That's Faith's manicured hand presenting her culinary delight.
Deviled Eggs
4 hardboiled eggs (we buy only large eggs, but any size works)
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Paprika for garnish

Cut eggs in half lengthwise, and remove yolks. Place whites on platter and store in fridge. In a small mixing bowl, mash yolks with a fork, then add mayo and mustard. After thoroughly mixing, add salt and pepper to taste.
Remove whites from fridge and with a teaspoon, scoop yolk filling back into yolk cavities in whites. (You can put the filling into a pastry bag with a fancy tip and fill the whites that way, but who has time for that??) 
Sprinkle with paprika if your kids don't call it "blood spatter", thereby rendering the eggs unappetizing.

Vicki Shea's Scrumptious Baked Ham
One big ham (in this case, size doesn't matter), bone-in 
1.5 cups brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1/4 cup water

Score ham diagonally. In a small bowl, mix sugar, mustard and water. Spread approximately 1/3-1/2 cup on outside of ham.
Bake as directed, and during last 30 minutes of baking, brush on the remaining glaze. 
When finished, outside of ham should be crispy.

We serve this with scalloped potatoes, peas, and Hawaiian Rolls.

Friday, July 19, 2013

7 Quick Takes: More of the mundane...

Joining Jen and her insane ideas that I will possibly consider...

1) We are 3/4ths of the way through our Summer Birthday Season! After next Tuesday (when I will officially become the mother of 3 teens and my descent into un-coolness will increase), it will be only 4 months until we begin Holiday Birthday Season! Saving all my pennies starting now.

2) Why is summer moving so quickly? As a child, I couldn't wait for my July 9th birthday, but afterwards,
I wanted summer to sloooooow down.
As an adult, I use July 4th as my official
"Summer Can Slow Down" point. I'm definitely getting that "put on the brakes!" feeling lately. So many plans, so little time left to execute....

3) My new favorite late-night show is Continuum. It's on Netflix and I'm not quite sure if my standards are sinking, or that the premise of this show is that good -- because it ain't the acting talent of the main character. The show centers around a group of terrorists from the year 2077 who, just as they are about to be executed for their crimes, transport themselves back in time to 2012. One of the female police officers from their time is also accidentally transported back with them. The episodes have plenty of flashbacks (flashforwards?) to the main character's life in 2077 and what the world looks like then: world government that is corporate-run ("Corporate Congress"), artificial food, no animals, electro-static makeup application! Check it out!

4) Oh my gosh, you guys! I made this awesome (and really healthy!) coleslaw recipe this week! It's supremely good on these really hot summer days and even my resident cabbage-hater (read: Kyle) liked it. Bonus: it's probiotic!

5) I'm really missing being up at the lake. I was supposed to stay up at the lake for most of July, but then Joe's school scheduled his drivers' education class to take place from 7/15-8/9 and that means Mama can't just up and leave. My plans included getting a lot of use out of the new motor on our pontoon boat. Tubing is one of our favorite pastimes.

6) I'm sure some of you already use and have probably blogged about the RunKeeper app, but I just started using it a couple of months ago and I really like it. I'm not a runner and never will be, but I love walking. RunKeeper has been a surprisingly big motivation for me. I love the feedback and the accurate tracking of my speed and mileage. It's available on both iOS and Android, which is another bonus for Kyle and I as he had a Droid and I have an iPhone. Check it out!

7) No big plans for this weekend, which is actually a good thing after the last few cuhrazy weekends we've had. Of course, being an extrovert, I'll probably try to create a social event for us. My closet-extrovert will probably grumble but secretly love it --- right, Honey??

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Theme Thursday: Bright

Linking up with the inspired CareBear (Housewifespice says you love that nickname!)....

Today is Eamon's 6th birthday. Six years ago at 10:02 in the morning, our grief was assuaged. The pain of the last 15 months was soothed in the most amazing way. We held a healthy, living baby in our arms and sobbed tears of joy. His big sister in Heaven sent us a gorgeous baby boy and kissed his forehead to remind us she was always watching over him and us (true story: Eamon was born with a red birthmark between his eyebrows and on his right eyelid. When the pediatrician checked him out he told us those birthmarks are called "angel kisses".)

"Bright joy" is the mental image I associate with our Eamon. He brought sunshine and peace back into our lives and has continued to do so ever since.

Happy 6th Birthday, my bright ray of joy!

We love you!
The birthday boy holding one of his brightly-colored new Magna-Tiles while standing in front of the bright sunshine!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Five Favorites: We're having a Heat Wave!

Joining the wonderful Hallie again this week!

It is hotter than...something very hot this past week and my kids and I have been losing our ever-loving minds trying to find activities that are cheap (read: freeeee!) and allow our resident asthmatics to keep breathing (well, hello, Ozone Action Days! I forgot all about you!). 

Here are our 5 favorite things to do during a heat wave.....

1) Free movie morning! We are lucky enough to have a local theater that shows 2nd-run kids movies for free one morning each week. There are a couple of other theater chains in our area doing the exact same thing, except they're charging $1 per person for the exact se movie! Guess where we go?

2) Draw on Mommy's bed sheets! Ok, maybe not on my current bed sheets, but in the early part of the morning, I have been known to hang a very old white,
flat sheet in the backyard and let the littles attack it with washable markers and paints. Then, they get to hose it all
off and start again. (Little known factoid: you can take regular tempera paints and add a couple of drops of dish soap to turn the paints into washable paints).

3) Clean! You think I'm kidding? The cure for childhood boredom is an increase in chores. Coincidentally, it's also the remedy for shiny windows!

4) Retail Therapy! I recently picked up this little Vera Bradley smartphone wristlet at 60% off the original price: 
The stores always try to lure in customers during the summer months. Do the younger kids enjoy this activity? Nope! But, it can't ALWAYS be about them, can it?

5) Ice cube baths! C'mon, kids! Put on your swim suits! Mama's done filled the bathtub up with water and ice cubes! As simple and stupid as this sounds, it always appeals to my younger kids. I don't throw in enough cubes to give them hypothermia and we don't have central a/c, so all the ice melts pretty quickly, but it fun while it lasts! (Bonus: I can shine up the bathroom while they're occupied!)

Stay cool, my friends!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

MIM: Lemons!

Joining LoLa (Lovely Ladies!) for another edition of MIM. This week's mystery ingredient was Lemons!

Initially, I was going to make my sister Anne's famous Lemon Bar recipe, but the weather went insane and there was no way I was turning on the oven in 90 degree temps at Persian Gulf humidity levels in a house with no central a/c.
Basically, I was all about cracking open a canister of Country Time, adding some water, ice, and vodka and calling it a day.

Enter the ever-ready Jessica who emailed me this no-bake (we'll discuss what "no-bake" means a little later) recipe for an icebox lemon yogurt tart.

Issues I had in the prep and serving of this recipe:
-I don't own a tart pan.
-the grocery stores do not sell pre-baked tart shells
-the grocery stores DO sell unbaked pie shells, and you have to bake them at 400 for 10-12 min.
-ask any one of my kids what Mama is like when she has to preheat the oven to 400 in aforementioned weather conditions and then bake a pie shell for 12 minutes.
-the same weather conditions make it nearly impossible for the pie/tart filling to set up even in the fridge
-and, serving and eating the pie in these conditions has to be done at a lively pace.

You'll be glad to know that I survived, as did my kids and Kyle. 

And, this pie was absolutely divine! The tartness was PERFECT for this heat/humidity wave. I served it with a garnish of blueberries and a wreath of whipped cream (also, not cooperative in heat and humidity).
My parents gave me this lovely tea set for my birthday and I can't wait to use it!

I would highly recommend this dessert and even having to bake the crust was worth the sweaty cursing that abounded. 

(The recipe notes that you can eliminate any crust and serve as a custard in individual ramekins, but I never registered for such fancy thangs before my wedding ..back in the Middle Ages....)

Friday, July 12, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Busy, busy, busy!

Joining Jen for another episode of As The Week Turns (in 7 Takes)...

1) We arrived home Sunday from our one-week family vacation at the lake. The 4th of July on the lake is where it's  AT, my peeps! Pretty much everyone tries to out-do everyone else with the fireworks and The Dempsey Family is no exception. This year's pyrotechnics were pretty impressive, but not as good as the year my dad came up for the 4th and spent all day wiring different fireworks while I created a specially timed CD of patriotic music. That year, we stole the show: massive amounts of impressive fireworks timed to explode in sync with songs by Neil Diamond and John Phillips Souza! BAM!

2) Tuesday was my 40th (that CAN'T be right!) birthday and we had really nice day. We opened gifts before Kyle left for work and the kids gave me a set of car-washing equipment along with 6 (bar-coded!) coupons for a Dempsey Kids' car wash, a gift certificate for a pedicure, a gorgeous watercolor of my fave flowers (Lily of the Valley) painted by Maeve, and a pretty necklace. Then, Kyle took my breath away by giving me a gorgeous ruby and diamond ring. It doesn't fit. I have huge fingers. My fingers are so big, that the ring can't even be sized up that big. So, we will be returning it and getting another ring. Probably from the Men's section.

3) Which brings me to ANOTHER awesome thing the very best husband in the world is doing for me this weekend: THROWING ME A 40th BIRTHDAY PUB CRAWL!! I'm beyond excited! I've talked about having one for my 40th for 3 years now, and Kyle really came through! 4 hours of pub crawling, followed by a catered party at the fifth bar! And....NO KIDS!!  I love my kids. I spend all my days with them. They are great kids. But, they demand attention. A few hours of partying like it's 1994 (the year before I had any kids) will be a nice break from the last 18 years. (OK, fine. Will is probably going to have to nurse during some portion of the time away, so he'll make a BRIEF appearance)

4) Killian is going to Philly! Today! Our graduation present to him was airline tickets to visit Kyle's brother, Conall, in The City of Brotherly Love and this is the weekend! Killian's only been on a plane a few times, and always with us, so part of the adventure will be navigating airports all on his own. I'm praying for a safe and fun trip with lots of good memories.

5) Speaking of Killian... He bought himself a car! A 1992 Cadillac Fleetwood! He has been caddying since he was 13 years old, and has been saving up for a car since he was 15. Last week, on vacation, he finally found the perfect car, had it checked by a mechanic, negotiated the price, and bought it! He did such a great job. Kyle has been bursting with pride ever since! So, now Killian drives the Caddy's Caddy!

6) We are in the middle of our major birthday season (we have a couple of smaller birthday seasons) right now. From June 23rd until July 23rd, we have 4 birthdays in our house, and we're half way finished! Next week is Eamon's 6th birthday, followed by Maeve's 13th birthday 5 days later. It occurred to me that 2013 will be the year that I have 3 teens, 4 kids in double digits, a child at every level of education (pre-school, grade school, middle school, high school, college) and only TWO kids NOT old enough for grade school and above! When did this family get so OLD?!

7) Joe is starting Driver's Ed next week. He's muy excitado (I diga bueno espaƱol), especially since Kyle took him for a couple of practice drives on the country back roads in Michigan. My heart doesn't know if it can handle having another kid driving -- sending for my smelling salts and my nitroglycerin pills now.

Have yerselves a muy bueno weeko!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Theme Thursday: Rooms

Thanks to Cari, it is about to get real up in this blog!

This week's theme is "rooms", and while someone's suggestion of going for a
Stepbrothers'-themed shot is appealing, I opted to go for honesty and nostalgia (I think).

A wonderful photographer (and all-around beautiful human being) once told me to take pictures of my kids' rooms and toys as they are today so that I will not forget the places and things that occupied so much of their young lives. It's an awesome idea, right? So, just after they all woke up this morning, I thought I'd capture a shot of their bedrooms without any bed-making or straightening up.

(Deep inhale) I present you, Bedrooms of the Dempsey Kids!
Jack's and Eamon's room

Killian's and Joe's room
Maeve's and Faith's room

Will's bed in our room...
Will's future room.

Here's what I learned:

1) my kids can't close a drawer to save their lives
2) my kids should spend more time cleaning their rooms and less time "hanging out" in them.
3) I should spend more time enforcing bedroom cleanings and less time cleaning the rest of the house
4) my photographer friend's advice is based on the fact that she has no teenagers yet and she is a better mother than I am.
5) I now know why I yell so much.
6) Kids don't need huge bedrooms all to themselves filled with many things in order to have good childhoods; they are better off having a smaller room filled with other siblings.

Now, play nice and don't call authorities on me because I just made you feel really good about your housekeeping abilities, didn't it?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

WWRW link-up! Woot! Woot!

My genius friend-in-real-life-and-online, Jessica, has started an awesome weekly link-up: What We're Reading Wednesday! She created this really cool button to go along with it:

Her taste in retro artwork is almost as good as her taste in friends! 

Last week, we were on vacation at the lake and I finally had time to finish reading this book I had started back in February:

Erik Larson wrote another book that some of you may be familiar with, which was mostly non-fiction. Beasts is entirely non-fiction and I loved it. Normally, I am not a huge fan of non-fiction, but Larson's writing style comes off more as storytelling -- think: really interesting dinner party conversationalist chatting you up -- so this book was absolutely entertaining.

Larson researched all the public and private writings, records, etc of Ambassador William Dodd and his daughter, Martha, from their life in 1930s Berlin during the rise of Hitler. He coupled all of that with other records (both personal and public) from other people and institutions, and pieced it all together to form a really clear picture of that period in Berlin.

The first few chapters were a real punch in the gut for me. I could not help comparing the state of Germany's government and economy to that of the U.S. in 2013. Even more startling was the inevitable (at least, for me!) comparison to Hitler's increasing restrictions of the German people's freedoms and our own country's struggles in that area today. Lastly, and most terrifying for me, was the overwhelming similarity to the initial restrictions, discriminations, and persecutions experienced by the Berlin Jews compared to what is currently happening to Catholics in the U.S. The realization that people in 1930s Germany are pretty much the same as people in 2013 U.S. hit home hard: those people ignored all the warning signs, made excuses, and even lauded the rampant violations made by their government, and so do we.

I also appreciated the "insider's look" at life in an American embassy. I had no idea, really, what ambassadors and their staffs do, other than help their fellow countrymen find their lost passports. Especially in this case, where the ambassador was performing his job exactly as it was explained to him, and yet, not following the social mores of that time. He was seeing all of these awful events unfold before his eyes and trying to warn both the German people, as well as President Roosevelt, of all of the evil that was about to be unleashed. Yet, because he didn't fit the mold of what his superiors in the U.S. felt was a proper ambassador, he was ridiculed and ignored. The entire book is fascinating from start to finish.

The biggest surprise to me was how absolutely interesting the bibliography was to read. Yes, I said "bibliography". Larson included all of his own personal notes and stories along with the citations, and it really gave a much clearer picture.

Even if you hated Larson's first book (I didn't), give this one a chance. It's fascinating.