Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Recipe: Baked Potato Salad

Baked Potato Salad

Since my husband had been away camping for three days, I thought it would be fun to welcome him home with a nice dinner- something fresh since he'd been eating a lot of prepackaged foods.  I made him his favorite salad and grilled chicken.   The baked potato salad takes quite a bit of prep time, but it is so worth the effort.  I got the recipe from Taste of Home ten years ago, and it continues to be a favorite with us and those we share it with. If you have a garden, this recipe will be a great way to use up some of your fresh produce. (I used fresh basil and chives from our garden.)  If you are going to a barbeque, this is also an awesome dish to share with others.  They will love it.  Enjoy!

       Baked Potato Salad

4 ½ lbs. unpeeled red potatoes, chopped into ¾ inch pieces
¼ cup olive oil
2 envelopes (.7 oz ea.) Italian salad dressing mix
1 med green pepper, chopped
1 med yellow pepper, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped 
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
3 oz real bacon bits
1 ½ cups mayonnaise
1 tbsp vinegar
½ tsp pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp garlic
2 tsp dried basil (or 2 tbsp fresh basi, minced)

In a large bowl, toss potatoes with oil & dressing mixes.  Place in 2 greased 9x13 pans and bake uncovered @ 400° for 45 min or until tender.  Cool.  Transfer to a large bowl & add peppers, onions, tomatoes, eggs, & bacon.  Toss.  Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl, mix well.  Pour over salad and stir.  Cover & refrigerate at least 1 hour.  Garnish with fresh chopped chives if desired.  Serves 16-20.

Monday, August 15, 2011

When Shopping with a Three Year Old...Buyer Beware!

What's wrong with this picture?  Read below to find out!

I bravely made an impromptu decision to head to the mall with my 18 month old and almost four year old in tow.  I needed to pick up gifts for the wedding shower and I had a coupon that was about to expire.  Thus, a trip to Bath & Body Works was in order.

I loaded my daughter into the stroller.  then I popped some snacks into the drink holders, and geared up my son with a monkey backpack.  Really, it's a leash for kids.  He loves it, and it keeps me sane while I try to focus on the task at hand.  Without the harness, he's been known to take off running with great speed.  However, it's not a perfect system as I was soon to find out.

Once inside the store, I decided to have my son carry the shopping bag since he was having a hard time not touching everything.  As long as I keep him productive, we can keep trouble at bay.  (Or so I thought!)  We came to a display of hand sanitizers.  I asked him to get one of each color: pink, green, blue, yellow...  He did great!  We moved on to candles.  They were 3 for 5 dollars.  We picked out six.  Then we roamed the store and found more goodies.  Further back another display of candles, so we picked out some more.  I think my son may have grabbed an extra, or I lost track of how many we had.  At that point in the shopping trip, my daughter was getting tired of being in the stroller.  I was quick drawing toys to keep her happy.  My son was getting antsy and we kept getting all tangled up in the "leash" as he'd go in circles around me.  Good grief!  I staggered to the counter to pay.  Time to pull out the snacks, and remember to use the coupon, and keep my son from melting down if the clerk happened to freak him out by saying, "What's your name?".  While the clerk rang up my items, they were more than I'd planned on, I hustled with the kids back to the soap display to get two more soaps.  They were 5 for $15.  If you only picked out three, you had to pay full price for each of them.  Whatever!  We found said soaps and scurried back to pay for everything.  By then, customers were crowding around us (making my son and me nervous) and I just wanted to get my little circus out of Bath & Body!

The kids did well in the store.  So they got rewarded with a treat, one petite scone each from Starbucks, before we left the mall.  Later that night, once the kids were finally in bed, I had a moment to open the B&B bag 'o goodies and see what I'd purchased.  In the midst of all the items, I discovered a half empty bottle of hand sanitizer with a big "NEW!" sticker on it.  How in the world?!?  Yep, I bought a store sample that had been used by countless strangers.  Ugh!  Ok, it was only a dollar, but this should not have happened.  Checking over the receipt, I also discovered that I brought home ten candles.  One of which I paid twice as much for because they were on sale in sets of three.  Oh well.  I decided to keep the full price candle and enjoy it.  While the candle flickered, I had a good laugh over buying a half empty sample bottle of hand sanitizer.  Instead of saying "NEW" on the sticker, it should have claimed: "USED!"

Next time I head to the mall, I'm going alone!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wedding Shower Game Ideas Needed!!

My sister, Katie, and I are planning a wedding shower for our sister Kendra.  I'm in charge of the games.  After forty minutes of searching on-line for suggestions, I'm a bit brain dead.  There aren't that many good ideas out there.  I'm looking for something creative, fun for everybody, but not embarrassing or gross, and not the usual run of the mill shower games either.   I'm stumped at this point.  Anybody have an idea that they'd like to share?  I'd be truly grateful!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Strengthening Family Bonds

Laughter, prayer, time, dinner & conversation...these five elements strengthen family bonds, at least that's what researchers claim.  Being an adoptive mom,  I probably think about bonding more often than non-adoptive parents.  We had to work at connecting with our kids and developing a bond.  I've found it's an ongoing process, much like keeping your marriage healthy.  My two children initially bonded with us through different means.  Our son (19 months old at adoption) is a snuggler and wanted to be held or near us all the time which made bonding fairly easy.  Our daughter (10 months at adoption) has bonded with us best by having fun together and positive eye contact.  It seems to me that connecting with her took longer than it did with our son.  She has since learned to be more snuggly and affectionate which is such a wonderful gift to us!

How do you promote a strong bond between you and your kids? Listed below are some of the activities we've done that have been most productive towards bonding.  Perhaps they will give you some fresh ideas to try with your own kids. (Most of them you probably already do!)  But I'm especially writing this post for adopting parents who are about to become parents.  Like you may be, I wondered with both of our adoptions if we'd connect with our kids.  I worried, would they learn to love us?   The answer is yes!  It takes time but they do, and you become a family.

  • Blowing bubbles.

  • Playing in the water (pool, sprinkler, watering can...whatever)

  • Bake something yummy together.  

  • Play Peek-a-boo.

  • Wrestle. (At our house, an adult laying down is an open invitation to wrestle- whether we want to or not!)
  • Let them help you with a project.  My son helps me make birthday cards for people & wrap the gifts.  Right now even housework is fun for them.  Occasionally, I let them help with vacuuming.

  • Go through the drive-thru to get burgers & fries.  Then park somewhere and climb in the back seat and eat together.  My kids love this!  It's something special they do with me when daddy is working a late shift.  Sometimes we take it home and eat it there, especially ice cream!!

  • Jump on a trampoline or in a bouncy house.  It brings out the kid in all of us adults.

  • Go on an adventure together: a walk in the neighborhood, story time at the library, a train ride...

  • Turn on fun music and dance together.  I like to pull out the Bee-Bop-Band and give everybody and instrument to play while we boogie, or we'll just prance, march, jump, or twirl around.

Some of our favorite songs to dance to are:
-Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
-Reach by Peter Furler
  • My top suggestion: READ together.  This is also a great time to snuggle.  If you're new to my blog, check out my posts on Children's Literature.  Periodically, I post about books that we enjoy.  We visit the library often to keep story time fresh and fun for all of us.