Thursday, May 28, 2009

Peppery Wisconsin Mascarpone Pasta Sauce with Bacon

I love, love, love this pasta. Love it! It's so easy, so yummy and, depending on the phase of the moon, the kids will even eat it (last time I made it they had seconds, last night Madeleine said she hated it).

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 shallots, diced
1 c. onion, diced
8 slices thick-sliced pepper bacon, cut in strips 1 in. long (if peppered bacon not available, add 1 tsp. course ground pepper)
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
8 oz. Wisconsin Mascarpone cheese
3 tbsp. fresh basil leaves, julienned

Heat oil in large saute pan. Add garlic, shallots and onions; saute over medium heat until tender, about 5 mins. Do not brown. Stir in bacon. Raise heat to medium high and cook until bacon cooks through but does not crisp (if I'm dealing with especially fatty bacon I usually cook it almost completely through in the microwave before this step so that I can drain some of the fat). Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer about 15 to 20 min., or until sauce thickens and reduces a little. Off heat, add Wisconsin Mascarpone cheese and basil. Stir well.

Toss with about 1/2 lb. cooked pasta (I prefer fettuccine, but any long, hollow pasta would be great).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Name Ideas

I'm taking suggestions. We're desperate here for girl names for this new little girl. We have a couple favorites, but nothing that we have hit upon where we've thought, "Ah ha! That's it!" For what it's worth, we had those moments with the three other kids' names. Heck, we've had that moment for this baby's just-in-case boy's name. But for a girl? Nope.

I feel like I've gone through every baby name book, every on-line baby site and our family tree about 8 million times and yet, still, nothing.

We need suggestions. Lots and lots of suggestions. No criteria, really. We tend to prefer family names and are, obviously, pretty traditional in our name choices, but at this point we're open to anything that we like. Suggest away!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Viking Fans Don't Want Favre

Heh, heh, heh.

What a coincidence; I don't want him anymore either.

Seriously, I loved Brett Favre. Loved him. But can't he just go away now?

Pin the Tail on the Pony

Madeleine believes no birthday party is complete without some party games so, for my birthday celebration this past Sunday afternoon in Silver Lake, she designed and illustrated Pin the Tail on the Pony. All attendees, large and small, were required to play.

First up was me and, thankfully, no one photographed my stint at stumbling around with a blindfold on trying to stick a black construction paper tail in the proper place. Spoiler alert: I lost.

I did get the group with Joe about to take his turn, though. 

And Dad, too. The kids thought it was pretty hilarious that he first attempted to stick the tail on the house instead of the picture of the pony.

The funniest moment, though, was Elisabeth's turn. Her best attempt at sticking her tail on the pony?

Yep. Her own rear end. Kids and adults laughed for quite some time over that little mishap.

And finally, the victor, my sister.

Her prize? A pack of gum. Oh, and a lot of laughs. Thanks for the game, Madeleine!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Now We Know

A woman, who's about our age, from our church just called Joe to ask a legal question and kept calling him Mr. O____. I guess that tells us which generation people at church think we belong to, even if our ages would seem to say otherwise. I was laughing when Joe told me and then I told Joe that I'm almost positive when she and I have talked before she's called me Cate. Joe's response: Well, isn't that almost worse? I'm still laughing.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Refrigerator Cleaning

For the most part, Joe and I do a reasonably decent job of eating leftovers that get shoved to the back of our refrigerator and, if we don't, we do modestly well at remembering to dispose of them instead of leaving them in the fridge to fester. Note, I used terms like "reasonably decent" and "modestly well" which, to me, implies that we do have our fair share of gross, unidentifiable containers of leftovers that I pull out of the darkest corners of fridge from time to time. Doesn't everyone? (If the answer is no, please don't tell me; I've got myself happily convinced this is the case.)

But what neither of us does well-- and I suppose since I'm the one home I take the bulk of the blame-- is actually cleaning the fridge. You know, pulling out shelves and drawers and actually using soap and water back in the recesses of the fridge that nobody likes to visit. Each time I do it-- and no, I won't tell you how frequently or not that is-- I am amazed at how fridge gunk forms. What is that stuff all the way underneath the vegetable crispers and, more importantly, how the heck did that stuff get there?

Today the gunk got to me and Elisabeth and I pulled out every item in the fridge and cleaned, scoured and washed. While I still wonder how that gunk got there and what exactly it was, I'm more interested that it's gone and can, once again, not cringe when someone outside of our immediate family opens our refrigerator.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pathetic Gardening

Today is May 21 and I still haven't planted a thing-- no flowers, no vegetables, not one seed or plant anywhere. For the flowers that's not so abnormal, especially since we're still not entirely out of danger of cold temperatures at night, but for the vegetable garden, it's pathetic. Pathetic! I'm not going to have lettuce at this point until the frost comes again in the fall to kill it. Today. I must get the garden planted today.

OK, now it's written down, so it will happen... right?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Yay! It was finally warm enough yesterday to do this...

and this...

and even this!

I love, love, love all this gorgeous weather!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cell Phone

Last week I dropped my cell phone in my coffee cup-- my full of coffee coffee cup. I was outside trying to help one of the kids with something with one hand and balancing my phone and coffee cup in the other and my phone just slipped into the coffee. Whatever. No excuse necessary, it was stupid and now my phone won't work.

The silver lining is that our cell phone contract is up anyway so now we can renew and get some sort of free phone deal. But what's killing me while I look is all the extras these phones have. Sure I'd like to be able to check email remotely, but is it necessary for a home-schooling mom to be available to everyone eighteen different ways? No. I just need a phone that makes and receives phone calls. That's it.

Why does that seem like too much to ask?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Covered Wagon in the Dining Room

Yesterday morning just after the big kids got up they felt inspired to make our dining room table into the Ingalls' covered wagon and pretend they were traveling across the prairie. I tried my best to ignore the heap of blankets, pillows, books and other necessary items and had school in the living room, trying my best to ignore the disaster behind me. The adventure culminated with Madeleine and Hank sleeping in their covered wagon last night (i.e. under the dining room table). When they woke this morning both raved at how fun and comfortable it was. They're already planning an encore sometime soon with Elisabeth, who was meant to be included, but fell asleep by accident just after supper time.

Next time I'll take a picture; the whole scene was pretty elaborate.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Joe on TV

Hey, it's not every day your husband makes the local news.

Here's the link.

Joe was told by one reporter that he had on a great tie for TV. I agree; doesn't he look handsome?

Monday, May 11, 2009


I am starting to realize just how capable of housework my older two children are. Lucky them.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Elisabeth Bakes

This picture of Elisabeth baking just makes me laugh. She's started doing the hand-on-hip thing more and more lately and, for some reason, seeing a three-year-old in that pose is just comical.

Monday, May 04, 2009

2009 WPA Convention

As always, the Wisconsin Parent's Association home-schooling conference was informative and useful. I came home last night with lots of good ideas and, most importantly, a fresh outlook and attitude. I now more think of this annual weekend as a cheerleading session than a chance to learn things (which happens too). It's nice to know that there are others like Joe and me out there and even though I logically know they exist and run into them in the cyber world, it's a comfort to talk, face-to-face, with those in the same boat we are and share ideas and frustrations.

The weekend was so much more than just a home-schooling conference though. Each year we're lucky enough to have my in-laws take the kids for the weekend and Joe and I are able to have two and a half days and two whole nights totally on our own. The only unfortunate factor in all this is that we have a weekend alone in Oshkosh, Wisconsin versus, say, Chicago, or even Milwaukee.

I don't mean to knock Oshkosh. It's a fine place and certainly offers enough amenities for me to appreciate but, still, seeing the city always makes me sort of sad. Over the past few years we've seen truly unique and fine establishments (fine in their own right, not relative to the chain restaurants and hotels surrounding them) wither and slowly die until they eventually hang it up. It seems the entire downtown is a sea of "for lease" and "for sale" signs or, worse yet, just emptiness. Life in this city seems to exist almost solely near the outlet mall and aviation museum near the highway and that corridor offers little in the way of the unique.

We did, however, discover one little gem thanks to Nina over at The Other Side of the Ocean. "Didn't Nina blog about chocolate shops in the Fox Valley?" I asked Joe Sunday morning. He agreed she had, though neither of us could remember when. Google found the post quickly though and soon enough we were off to Oaks Candy Corner. We arrived before opening, however, and drove down to the marina instead and walked along the breakwater out into Lake Winnebago for about forty-five minutes while we waited. (The other Oshkosh candy shop mentioned in Nina's post-- Hughes Home Maid-- is closed on Sundays, apparently). Oaks Candy Corner's chocolates proved to be worth the wait and we were happy to leave laden with chocolate for ourselves and also as a thank-you gift for Joe's parents.

We arrived home last night around 4 p.m. after a relaxing drive home (with the kids) and I am still basking in the enjoyableness of the weekend.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Weekend Getaway

This afternoon we are home-school convention bound. The kids are going to stay with Joe's parents for two whole nights and Joe and I have two nights on our own. Woo-hoo!

I do, however, think it's funny that our big adults only weekend every year is a home-schooling conference... a weekend in which we listen, talk and think about kids.