Sunday, April 29, 2012

Evil Genius

The other day, amongst all the bee chaos, I made something that I wanted to share with you, but I was a little distracted by 40,000 of my closest friends.  It was Professional Administrative Assistants Day on Wednesday, April 25 which used to be called Secretaries Day, but if you call it that now you might get flogged or shunned or cursed because it's not "PC" anymore.  So, if you have someone in your life that answers the phones, files your paperwork, makes your coffee, and in general, makes your life a lot easier....well, I hate you.  Just kidding, I don't hate anyone, but I hope you made every effort to recognize this person on that day, and if you didn't, then you better get a move on, cause all your "B" files are gonna be filed under "G"....in other words, you're in trouble.
I wanted to recognize the women that run the office in my son's school and of course, the lovely lady that runs the office in our family business.  These women have a lot on their plate, and somehow they manage to keep it all together...it's amazing. 
I had every intention of making some fantastic strawberry cupcakes, but unfortunately, I ran out of time, so there I was on Tuesday night, trying to think of something to make them, that didn't take all night, but still would make them feel special....and I came up with this....

Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

The name just makes you slobber a little doesn't it?

I took some beautiful, huge, sweet, juicy strawberries that I had purchased at Sam's Club and hulled out the stem and core a little wider than normal.
(Strawberry has been enlarged for this post..not actual size.)
Sorry...couldn't resist...but they were huge.

Then I grabbed the one thing in my cabinet that I love and hate at the same time...Nutella.  If you haven't tried it...don't.  It is chocolaty deliciousness in a jar and once you have it, you wonder how you lived such a mundane existence.  Ignorance is bliss....and if you don't know what you're missing, then you won't miss it, but for me, I know what it's like and I get a little twitchy if my jar is getting low.
I stuffed the strawberries with the Nutella.

Then, I dipped the end that I stuffed in some melted chocolate.


I placed them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and popped them in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
Ta Da..
The cool part is that it is almost like a truffle with a fresh strawberry incorporated.  The Nutella doesn't set up hard, so when you bite into it, you crack that hard chocolate and sink into strawberry and Nutella and it's heaven!
I don't know if anyone else has ever done this, but if they have, I wasn't aware of it,... but I might be somewhat of an evil genius.

Okay, you can quit laughing now.

Make these for someone special, and maybe a couple for yourself, and definitely make more than you think you'll need!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Attack of the Bees

Announcement: I am quitting my job, selling my house, and am now on a quest to become the next "Crocodile Hunter". (..hmm...that didn't pan out too well for him, did it?)...okay, the next Jeff Corwin! ..........Maybe I should explain..

  The animal kingdom loves me, at least that is what I am starting to believe.  I am like Steve Carell on "Evan Almighty", they just flock to me. I've had more than my share of weird wildlife run-ins over the years and today is the icing on the cake.

When I lived in my first apartment I had:
 *mouse run-ins that probably reached into the thousands
 *a bat that flew out of my dryer, through my hair and wreaked havoc until my hubby (then boyfriend) came to the rescue.
 *a wild snake somehow got into my apartment and I almost stepped on it and started to pick it up, not knowing what it was. (Luckily I realized it really quick.)

It got so bad that I was convinced that if I lived there much longer, I would wake up one morning and find a deer standing in my living room. Needless to say, I hadn't had a run-in in quite a while, so I guess I was over due...and Mother Nature pulls no punches.

I got up this morning and decided it was a wonderful day spruce up my bedroom a little, so I stripped the bed, washed the sheets, and opened my window to let in the fresh air.  I immediately noticed a strange humming sound coming from outside, but couldn't figure out where it was coming from, then I noticed that there were a lot of bugs flying around...and I mean a lot.  It seemed very strange so I kept looking and I saw that the bugs were really congregating around the tree right outside my window, in my neighbors yard.  Then I saw it...
   The Bees! They were everywhere, and more were coming ...and it was creepy! Every hair on the back of my neck stood up when I finally realized what I was looking at.  A massive bee swarm was in the tree.

And on the trunk. YIKES!

Then they all moved to one gigantic mass on one branch..


I watched it all day...I seriously couldn't get anything done besides watch in curiosity, awe and disgust.  What was I going to do, who do you call when a swarm of bees has basically trapped you in the house?..the fire department?....the National Guard?...NASA?!...Nope, you call these guys...

My very own bee fighting (or should I say loving?) super heroes!!
(From R to L:  David Burns and his son-in-law Jessie.  David owns this business..

David is one of only two master beekeepers in the state of Illinois and owns Long Lane Honey Bee Farms  in Fairmount, IL where they not only sell honey and bees, but they also manufacture hives and accessories for bee keeping.  They also give classes and they have a wonderful website that tells all about everything they do...



Now back to business....
These guys were awesome...
   David is setting a box down to catch the swarm in and Jessie is getting his hat, veil and gloves on.

I am sure they are strategizing here...but I wouldn't know, I ran for the hills!  I am taking these pics from my bedroom window.

David is getting ready to shake the branch with all the bees on it down into the box...I felt like a window between me and what was about to take place just wasn't enough protection.
aanndd..the bees are down!....and really ticked off at this point...I'll just stay right where I am at for now.
The theory is that when they dropped the bees into the box, they shove the lid on and hope they trapped the queen inside so the rest of the swarm follows...so now we wait to see if the queen is in.

They needed a little coaxing....I'll just stand over here and let them coax.
Finally...victory!!  They are all working their way inside.
Soon the bees were trapped in the box and on their way to their new home.  The whole process took a little over an hour...not too bad when they had to try and trap around 40,000 bees....yes 40,000... and I am not exaggerating here....now you know why I was freaked out and was very relieved when it was finally all over with! 
So now I need to hit the sack because I am exhausted....it's hard work watching the guys trap all those bees..whew.

p.s....I'm not really going to drop everything and run off to wrestle wild animals..just in case you were worried.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Curious George

This week has been a whirlwind and I'm not exactly sure why, but there were some great highlights.  If you know me the highlights to any week are usually about food, and this is no exception.  On Wednesday my son's school invited me to attend a luncheon for anyone who has volunteered throughout the year.  The teachers all carried in a covered dish and some of the retired teachers helped set it all up.  It was a wonderful experience!
The tables all had pretty flowers, they made it look so nice.  Above is a picture of Kathy, she is retired now, but I will let you know that she was my 3rd grade teacher!  I loved having her as a teacher and now I love even more having her as a friend. She's a great person!
The teachers set out a huge buffet of goodies and I had a hard time dividing up the valuable real estate on my plate, but I made the most of it!

Notice I took a closer picture of the most important part...the desserts.

On Friday we had an unexpected house guest, but I decided to let him stay for the weekend as long as their was no monkey business going on...

Yep, Curious George got to spend the weekend with the Winlands!  Ben's Kindergarten class is doing a unit on good old George and all the kids get a turn at taking him home to see what mischief he can get into.
 Ben was the lucky one who got him on Friday, so that meant he spent the weekend....and boy did George have a fun time!  As you can see above, he went shopping for bananas.  It got a little crazy when George escaped us once, but luckily we found him in the ice cream freezer..I think he was searching for banana ice cream. We told him that if he stayed in the cart for the rest of the shopping trip, we would stop and get him some ice cream on the way home, luckily he agreed..


He was looking a little shaggy so he got a little trim Saturday morning..

                                                                               ....George said to send the bill to Mrs. Glascott.

Saturday afternoon was such a nice day that we had to let George play on the trampoline and the play set..

George loves the slide!!
Sunday morning George got to attend church with us...Ben was amazed because George knew all the words to Jesus Loves Me..
All the kids loved having him join our class!
All in all I think George had a great time with us, we will sure miss him!

One more thing....

Have you ever seen a chocolate vampire?...

Now you can tell your friends that you have.  You're welcome.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Happy List

Today I am going to be a little bit random and introduce you my "Happy List".  The "Happy List" is, of course, a list of things that give me a little bit of joy throughout the day.  They can be (and not limited to) music, products, movies, food, people, etc....there are no rules. They change regularly, along with the length of the list, and some things stay on the list all the time. 

I am sharing 5 things with you today because.....well, the last couple of days my life has been a bit boring, and I am glad for it, but it makes for terrible reading.  I have been unpacking, doing laundry, cleaning, doing laundry, went to the doctor, and doing laundry.  So, I figured unless you want a bunch of pictures of me happily folding towels and underwear, you might find this more interesting.  (Note: the numbers are not ranking, just keeping track so you don't feel cheated.)

1. Clarisonic.




This is the most wonderful skin care invention since botox and it doesn't freeze your face into one expression.  To put it in their words : Clarisonic uses "patented sonic frequency of more than 300 movements per second to gently, yet thoroughly remove 6X more makeup and 2X more dirt and oil than cleansing with your hands alone. Cleaner skin is the first step toward healthier skin. And healthier skin is smoother, more radiant and more beautiful."
It is battery operated, rechargeable, intensity adjustable and a can't live without-able. You add a dab of cleanser, turn it on, and let it massage your face into submission. 
I love it!  I've had people tell me my face looked so smooth and soft and glowing and gorgeous....okay, not gorgeous, but it makes you feel that way. They are a little pricey but worth every penny!

2. Zac Efron in the previews for the movie "The Lucky One".

 Ladies, I know I am not the only one who rewinds her DVR when this preview comes on.  At first I felt a little pervy, until I realized "High School Musical" was six years ago!...Whew, thank goodness, now I don't feel so bad drooling a little.(p.s.....the book is GREAT!)

3. Cadbury Creme Eggs.

I don't think I even need to say anything about these except that they bring joy to my life and pounds to my thighs every Spring....and I have to eat them while alone because it embarrasses my family to see my face and here the sounds I make.

4. Kindle.

Most people who know me know that I would gladly give up any modern convenience before I would give up my Kindle.  So what if I have to slap the laundry against a rock down by the river...I'll be reading a good book while doing it.

5. Saving Silverman.


This movie was on T.V. the other day and it always makes me laugh.  It's a little raunchy at times but where else can you get wild animal catchers, Lee Ermey, nuns, Jack Black, and a Neil Diamond cover band in one movie? (Neil is on there too!) One of my all time favorites...it's stupid humor at it's finest.



One last thing...

I love that my dog knows how to use a tread mill...

                                                                                                                .............for naps.



sweet dreams Lola!

I would LOVE it if you shared the top 5 things on your "Happy List" right now!  Just enter it into the comments section of this post!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Grand Canyon

My hubby surprised me...and that rarely happens.  Mostly because I hate surprises.  It's true, ask anyone.  True control freaks, like myself, absolutely break into hives at the thought of being surprised, but I have to admit, this was a good one. 
I knew we had planned to go on a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon during our trip to Vegas, but what I didn't know was that this was picking me up...
I have to admit, that is a pretty awesome surprise, but it's not over yet...what I didn't understand was that we were actually flying to the Grand Canyon. I thought we would ride a bus to the Grand Canyon and then get in a helicopter and ride around for a few minutes.  But that wasn't the case.  This limo took me to the airport where this guy was waiting for us...
Then, before I knew it, I was leaving Las Vegas...
We flew over The Hoover Dam.  I did the tour a few years ago, but it's still a impressive sight.
Here's my Hubby, knowing he did alright!
And here is our first look at the north rim of the Grand Canyon...you can see the Colorado River leaving the canyon and making a turn..heading for Lake Meade.
We landed at the bottom of the canyon and got to walk around and just breathe it all in..
This doesn't even do it justice..it was surreal.
This is the steepest part of the canyon..the walls stretch straight up at least a half a mile.
And just to prove I was really there..
The pilot told us that this was the best time of year to see the canyon because everything was in bloom..and he was right...


We capped off our trip with a Champagne lunch with a few friends that also took the trip.

Here is Jon and Barbara, they are from Holland and were on their honeymoon..
This is Gilles and Chantal, they are from France.
And here is our pilot Matt..everyone was so nice, we had a great time.
We left after our picnic and headed back to Vegas.  Unfortunately, I was indisposed and could not take any pics.  The rain was coming in over the mountains in the west and it caused big wind gusts which in turn made our ride back a little unpleasant.  I was pretty much sitting with my eyes closed praying to God I didn't toss my cookies in the helicopter...that would have been awkward.
Even with the "NASA training" return flight, it was something that I am so glad I got the chance to do with the man I love. What an unforgettable experience! I love you Adam.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What happens in Vegas...

I love entering a new hotel room.  I don't really know why, maybe it's the "reveal" of walking into a new space that you will be living in for a short period of time, but I love those first few moments of new discovery.  This room does not disappoint...I present the Grand Desert Resort in Las Vegas..
Yep, my sweetie pie and I have ventured off...sans kids, for the first time ever!! We have a suite with an amazing view, just off the strip.
looking West
looking East.  Those courts down there make me sad I left my racquet at home.  Oh well.

My Mom informed me we were boring when I called to tell her what we did last night.  But I'm not ashamed.  Between the travel, time change, and no kiddos, I feel I don't need an excuse to say that we went and ate and then came back and hit the sack.  Yep...we are party animals. 

We ate at the Grand Lux Cafe, which is a sister restaurant to The Cheesecake Factory, and it was awesome as usual.  This wasn't my first time eating there, but it definitely won't be my last if the fates allow.  I am absolutely not going to tell you everything I ate because...well it would be a little embarrassing, let's just say that it's a good thing I was in a dress and not pants or there would have been some button popping involved...and to prove my point I will show you this pic of my dessert...
This is called Cupcake Collision...and I think it speaks for itself...don't worry, I didn't eat the whole thing...my hubby got a couple bites.

Tonight I am going to be a party animal..and I actually typed that out with a straight face.  Okay, I am going to be my version of a party animal.  Which in the animal kingdom would fall somewhere along the lines of a Penguin or maybe a Guppy..on the move, but harmless.  .....Now I think I need to go take a nap in preparation.