Thursday, February 28, 2013


 When I was younger my parents had this great dining room table that my siblings and I would throw blankets over to make our own fort.  I distinctly remember hiding out in the fort and eating fruit snacks.  Lemon fruit snacks.  Forts are awesome, every kid should have one.

Including mine.  So while we have a pedestal table that makes it a little difficult to have an experience similar to mine, today we set out to make a fort for Noah and Kayla to enjoy.

I am not the engineer in the family.  As I told the kiddos "I'm the artist, I have the dream.  You're Daddy's the engineer, he makes it happen."  We decided to make the best attempt we could with the three of us and let Grant mastermind it later.

And honestly, the kids could have cared less what it looked like, they had a blast.  I pulled out some huge comforters, we draped them over a bunch of furniture and our fort was born.  I think they may have found every pillow and blanket in the entire house to put underneath in their hideout.  I even let them have lunch in there as a special treat.  They're already begging me to put it back up tomorrow :)

In unrelated news, Happy National Chocolate Souffle Day.  My day had been going swimmingly well until I remembered I had to make chocolate souffles.  I have hemmed and hawed and wavered over what exactly to make for days now.  I couldn't find a recipe that I knew was 'fool proof' that didn't require at least 8 eggs.  I couldn't find one for a type of chocolate I already had in my pantry.  I couldn't find one that would let me make them ahead and bake later.  Or I could find one of those elements but not all of them.   I've been a wreck about it.

In the end, I decided to totally cheat and do it my own way.  A bit of research showed that for the most part you can 'swap' typed of chocolate for each other.  I took it one step further and decided to use some Andes mint chocolate pieces I had left over.  (Probably not the wisest decision)  Then I found a recipe that only called four two eggs, made four 'mini' souffles.  It didn't say anything about making it ahead but again, I decided what the heck, I'm going to make it and refrigerate it like some of the other recipes I came across allowed you to do.  I knew I was messing with it and might effect the outcome of my souffles, but oh well.

And honestly, it wasn't any of those things that led to the 'pouf' going out of my souffles.  I made one really dumb mistake that I KNEW was a mistake as I was doing it.  It was almost one of those out of body experiences where I'm doing something and in my head I'm screaming "NO!"  I popped my tray of souffles in the oven as we sat down to dinner, anticipating they'd be about perfect by the time we finished.  Then, for some odd reason about 3/4 of the way through the bake time I decided to check on them.  Instead of flipping on the oven light I pulled a classic No-No and opened the oven to check on them.  DUH!  As the blast of hot air hit me I knew that when I pulled them out at the end of their bake time they were already going to be a bit caved and would continue to do so.

Oh well, they still tasted the same :)  And considering how many other swaps and changes I made, we'll take it.  Noah loved them and everyone else gave them a 'meh.'  All that anxiety for a meh :-p I don't think we're really souffle people anyway.  Bring on the forts.  We like forts.

National Peanut Butter Lovers Day and Fruit Compote tomorrow.  And hopefully school for my four year old who is missing it!  Until then...

3 Gatchels, 2 blankets, 1 Fort

 Mikayla hiding out


 I <3 my beanie

 This afternoon Snow White showed up in my kitchen for some karaoke

my 'meh' souffles :-p

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Strawberry Foodstuff Forever

 Happy National Strawberry Day!  It seems an appropriate way to start to close February which is also National Fresh Berry Month.  My favorite Berry?  Quentin!  GO TIGERS!  But I digress...

Today has been, hmmm, interesting we'll call it.  When I went to bed last night Grant and I put a 75% chance on their being no school today.  We were right!  While we probably only got a little over 3 inches, but it was 3 inches of the heaviest, wettest, densest snow I have ever seen.  Last night when we went to bed the tree branches in the backyard were so laden down they were actually touching the ground.  My shepherd's hook in the front yard is actually bent from the snow pulling down the flowerpots hanging on it.  Really really heavy snow.  Grant said the roads were a mess this morning and the addition of fog made driving even more precarious.  I decided the three of us weren't going anywhere.

So we set off to try to dig out the driveway.  I'm not going to get into how long it took me to do this or what a nightmare it ended up being, I'm simply going to say it's done :)  The kids on the other hand had a great time!  The dense snow made for great packing snow so they were off on their 'sledding' hill, building snowmen and throwing snow balls at each other.  Super thankful that the temperatures were in the high 30s with no wind so we were actually all able to be out there for quite awhile.

But back to the strawberry.  Or better yet, back to last night.  Strawberries aren't the only food we're celebrating today - it is also National Kahlua day!  Last night I was perusing the recipe I had picked out for today when I stumbled across another recipe - one for homemade kahlua.  Oh, definitely had to try that!  So I sent Grant out for the one ingredient we were missing (vodka!) and started making a batch.  Who knew how easy it was???  And not to mention cost effective.  Using decent (Smirnoff) vodka, to make it cost me about half of what it would be to buy a bottle of actual kahlua.  (and not that I was willing to try it, but multiple reviews of the recipe recommended using bottom shelf vodka (oh boy, Popov!) and better quality instant coffee for the best results) Granted, that didn't mean it was going to turn out to be any good, but in the spirit of the project, I knew we had to try it.  More on the results later.

Anyway, after bailing out the driveway I set out putting together our strawberry feast for tonight.  The kids had already started the celebration earlier today by having peanut butter and strawberry quesadillas for lunch (they LOVED them!) and I planned a multiple strawberry hit for dinner.  First I concocted some strawberry syrup to be used in milk or on ice cream or whatever.  The leftover strawberry bits I mixed in with some cream cheese and topped off some nilla wafers for a simple strawberry cheesecake like bite.  Then I made a very cool strawberry pancake in a skillet in the oven.  Everyone really liked this one too, and we decided we're going to have to try it with cinnamon in the batter and topped off with apples.  Then to round things out I made strawberry banana orange smoothies.  I'd say we've all had our daily quantity of Vitamin D today :)

After dinner Grant sampled some of the kahlua solo on the rocks.  He wanted to give it a taste test before we made some White Russians tonight.  It actually passed his test!  For someone who loves kahlua I'd say this was a success.  He said he didn't think it had quite the punch of kahlua but the taste was there.  I can't wait to sip a White Russian tonight while yet more snow falls...  Alright, I can live without the more snow, but not the White Russian.

Chocolate souffles tomorrow (my stomach just fell to my knees, I'm a little nervous about this one)  Until then...
Strawberry syrup

 Strawberry mini cheesecakes :)

 Strawberry Banana Orange Smoothie

 Strawberry pancake right out of the skillet

 Had to top it off with some of the syrup and powdered sugar

Kahlua on the rocks

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kid Kitchen Sweeties

 Today Noah is one happy kiddo.  All month he has been reminding me that this month is National Sweet Potato month.  And all month I have been telling him we'll get to it.  Well, the month is over as of Thursday so I suppose we should get to it already!  So I was thrilled the other day when I got my issue of Parenting (thanks Colorado Koz's) that had a kid friendly recipe for Sweet Potato Patties.

Noah got a bit of a jump start on putting them together with a quick lesson in vegetable peeling.  After we talked about the peeler and how to use it, he was able to peel most of the sweet potato on his own.  No small feat in my opinion.  He was really taken with the fact that the 'teeth' on the peeler left stripes on the sweet potato.

After cooking and then mashing the potatoes we set about assembling our patties.  Any time my twosome get to get their hands dirty they are thrilled.  The actually did a really good job as the pictures show.  The thing I like about this installment of Kid Kitchen was there was a few 'new' things for them to learn about, including a lesson at the stove in how to fry up the patties.  Huge step for this Mama to allow them to stand there and watch/help with this part :)  They were good about standing well clear of the pan, though and spent most of the time dancing to the 'music' the patties made while they were frying.

They also helped me whip (literally) up tonight's desert for one of our food celebrations - pistachio pudding!  Note to the silly person setting up these holidays, we already celebrated pistachios!  Remember?  But my fact check of multiple sources confirmed that today is Pistachio day again.  So I decided on a low key celebration with some pudding that disappeared in the blink of an eye after dinner tonight.

It is also Chili Day.  I love making chili and I have a great go to crock pot chili that I always use, but I wanted something a little different tonight.  I've never made white chili so I decided to try it out tonight.  I don't know if I'd call it 'white' because it still has salsa in it which gave it more of an orange hue, but we did swap out red/black beans for white and I used ground turkey instead of ground beef.  Grant LOVED it, the kids (who I usually have a hard time convincing to eat chili anyway) gave it a hearty 'meh'  It was super easy, though and I'd definitely make it again.  Chili, consider yourself celebrated!

As I type, the snow is falling rapidly here in Farmington.  It was sleet until just after 5pm, but I already can't see any grass.  The weather reports are calling for between 5-8 inches (ugghh, my body hurts from just the thought of shoveling already!) and I've already warned Noah that it might mean no school again tomorrow.  We'll see what happens.  Until then...

Noah tries out peeling the sweet potato

Showing of his finished results (he was really proud)

 Posing with Calvin before we start our patties

 The patties even had their own dipping sauce which we made up first

 Mash mash mash

 I tried to convince Kayla to mash gently...

 Noah's first patty

 Kayla tries, too

 Their handiwork

 Watching the patties cook

 They couldn't wait for them all to cook they had to start eating them as soon as they came off the stove

 I know he looks angry, but he wasn't, he was scarfing down his creation

 Fryin' them up

 Whipping up the pudding

 Kayla, too

 'white' chili

 Pistachio pudding

With more pistachios on top of course!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Gone to the Dogs

 Saturday when I wasn't here I missed Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day.  As this has been weighing very heavily on me (just kidding!) I wanted to make sure we didn't forget the canine member of our family on a day when she can join in on the celebrations.  So the kids set out to make things straight today by making not just one, but two kinds of doggy treats for our four legged friend. You'll have to check out the pictures of our "Doggy Donuts" and the Cornmeal Dog treats me made.

Today was also the day that they rescheduled PJ day for at school.  It is amazing how smoothly a morning can run when I don't even have to worry about getting them dressed before heading out the door!  Mikayla insisted that she be allowed to wear her PJ's all day, too.  Figuring it wouldn't hurt anything and as we wouldn't be going anywhere because of what I did to the car yesterday I agreed.  Then she informed me that I too had to wear my PJ's today.  So here I am, after 6pm on a Monday night decked out in my awesome blue Monkees PJs just for Mikayla.  I do have to run out here a little later and think that I'll at least be changing my pants...

As for today's celebration, there are actually two.  It is National Clam Chowder Day.  Again.  Or to clarify, last month was specifically New England clam chowder and today is just clam chowder.  So instead of having something we'd already tried again (though it was a huge hit here) I decided to try my hand at some Manhattan style clam chowder.  A polling of the Gatchel family revealed that while everyone would be more than happy to eat either kind again Grant and Kayla prefer the Manhattan (red) and Noah and I are happier with the New England (white).  I was just glad that what I believe to be another unusual food for a three and four year old to enjoy didn't even phase my twosome.

It's also National Chocolate Covered Nuts day.  I picked up a bag of twice dipped chocolate covered peanuts at the store yesterday (I know, for once I didn't make it myself, shame shame!) and we had them on bananas for dinner.  Now, oddly enough, both of my kiddos who sometimes put up a fuss about nuts in any other form than 'butter' LOVED the chocolate covered peanuts.  I guess it just proves that everything really does go better with chocolate.

My car has been fixed and looks wonderful (yay!) so I'm going to stop beating myself up over it now. (Hopefully)  Accidents happen.  I'm just very thankful that they got it done today as they are calling for rain which is to turn into snow which is to accumulate 5-8 inches overnight tomorrow.  Driving with no back windshield in that could have been a real mess...

Tomorrow is Chili Day and Pistachio day (again!).  Plus we're FINALLY going to celebrate Sweet Potatoes for Noah in Kid Kitchen tomorrow.  Until then...

They were so excited to get to play in the kitchen and make something for Bella

 They wanted me to take this picture to prove to everyone that I was in my PJ's.

 Noah stirring up the Doggy donuts

 And I wanted a picture of me snuggling my two faves

 Putting the wholes in the donuts

 Ready for the oven

 These are the corn meal biscuits

 Which they got to roll out, their favorite!

 Doggy Donuts out of the oven

 Sharing with our favorite Beagle

 Chocolate covered peanuts and bananas

 Noah brought home Calvin from school again today

Manhattan Clam Chowder

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chip Off the Ol' Block

 When I got up this morning all I could think about was coming home and seeing my adorable twosome and fabulous husband.  As much as I have really enjoyed the past couple of days and being there for Scott's competition, I was beginning to miss my family.  I was beginning to miss hearing "Mom" 27 times in a row and Kayla's "I love you".  I was missing having someone to snuggle up to at night and I was dying to share the adventures I had with all three of them.

That is the only 'excuse' I can offer for what ended up going down this morning.  My brain was obviously on being home and not on driving my car.  Oops...

On my way out of Fremont this morning I decided to make a quick stop at Speedway because I had a coupon for a freebie drink.  I considered putting gas in the car but figured my just over a quarter of a tank would get me home where there was a good chance that the gas prices were lower.  I ran inside quickly, grabbed my drink and headed back to the car.  I then got rid of my coat, sent a quick text to Grant to let him know I was on my way, put in my book on CD, put the car in reverse and started to back out of my space.

Somewhere in here I missed what happened next, but the next thing I hear was splat, crash, crack, woosh.  I backed into a pole!  I am a complete and utter moron.  If just backing into the pole wasn't enough, it didn't hit my bumper but instead hit the mounted spare tire on the back of my RAV.  And the plastic casing gave, smacked into my back windshield which then cracked into a million tiny pieces.  Have I mentioned yet that I'm a moron?  And it didn't just crack, it shattered.  Everywhere.

No excuse.  None.  Just that I'm a moron.

I wasn't hurt, there was no other damage to the car or the damn pole.  The girl in Speedway came out to make sure I was OK and then said she would come to clean up the glass.  *Sigh*  I called Grant to fess up.

God Bless my husband.  Not only did he (nor has he since then) not give me a hard time, he even reminded me that shortly after we got the car he had done something similar, though without the disastrous windshield ramification.  He reassured me it was OK and set off to call the insurance company.  While I was on my way home (I'm not even going to discuss that experience) he got the claim processed and hunted down a place that could install the glass tomorrow.  Thank you God for Grant.

And also a thank you to my parents, both of whom offered to come rescue me.  Totally not the way I wanted to end our time together, let me tell you.  Complete.  Moron.  Yep, that's Kristi today.

I did make it home unscathed though and was overjoyed to see everyone here.  I may have held and squeezed everyone a few more seconds that necessary given how relieved I was to see them.  There's no place like home.

In completely unrelated news (that is probably more interesting but less entertaining than how much of a moron I am) Happy National Tortilla Chip Day!  I did make it home in plenty of time to celebrate today :)  (Side note:  By the time I made it home yesterday's banana bread was gone (yep, the whole loaf!) so no pictures.  But all three have raved about how much they liked the different recipe so we'll have to try it again)

For dinner I made one of the Kosakowski tried and trues - Scoops!  You can actually buy tortilla chips in a scoop like shape and then we fill them with taco fixings.  Today, though, I already had some corn tortillas at home so I made my own in my mini muffin tin.  They disappeared!

And just because that didn't seem like enough, I invented a new Gatchel favorite - the "Smoretilla!" (Copyright pending ;-) ) I took a flour tortilla and covered it in melted butter and then sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, baked until the edges start to brown just a bit.  Then I spread on some hot fudge, dotted it with some mini marshmallows and popped it under the broiler for a few minutes.  One huge 12 inch flour tortilla generated about 12 wedge shaped pieces all of which my family inhaled.  Maybe not a true tortilla chip, but after the day I've had, we're counting it!

I'm hoping that tomorrow goes better.  PJ day at school has been rescheduled for tomorrow so Noah's a happy kiddo.  Plus, as if having "New England Clam Chowder" day last month wasn't enough, whoever comes up with this craziness decided that tomorrow is just "Clam Chowder" day. So I decided to try my hand at some Manhattan Style Clam Chowder for tomorrow.  And hopefully they'll come and fix my car and I can stop feeling like such a complete moron.  Until then...

Homemade 'scoops'


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Top Banana

Happy National Banana Bread Day!  I did hook up my wonderful and husband with a loaf of a new kind of banana bread (not my standard fabulously easy recipe we made in Kid Kitchen a few weeks ago) but I forgot to take pictures of it before I left on Thursday.  I did get a text earlier in the day saying that had enjoyed it, though, so take that for what it's worth.

In completely unrelated but WAY more exciting news...

I'm reporting from Fremont this fine Saturday evening.  My wonderful Daddy and I got in a short time ago from Canton.  I've decided to crash here overnight before returning home in the morning. It's been a long and super exciting couple of days.

We returned to the pool this afternoon for the Finals of the State Swim Meet.  I think Michelle said it best "If I ever pictures a nuthouse, this is exactly what I would think of."  If I thought people were crazy and over the top yesterday it couldn't hold a candle to today.

We arrived at the pool around 2:30 for the meet that started at 4:00pm.  They had a DJ rocking out the natatorium and it was LOUD.  I'm not sure if there were more people in states of half-dress on the pool deck or in the stands honestly.  Who knew that swim fans were so hard core?  Everyone was rocking their colors and school spirit.  Have I mentioned it was LOUD??  And packed!  There were so many people there.  It was a super experience, though my butt is glad it doesn't have to take any more time on those bleachers :-p

So the boys swam shortly after 6:30 and did awesome! They placed 6th in their heat which means they took 14th overall.  14th in the WHOLE STATE!  They were ranked 19th going into the meet and ended up finishing 14th - that is huge!  To move up that much at a State meet is really incredible.  I am so proud of them!

I do have pictures to share, but will upload them tomorrow.  In the meantime, have I mentioned lately how proud I am of my bro?  (hehe)  Not only of his swimming abilities, but in the way he handled himself this past week.  I was so proud of how he went out of his way to thank his whole team at the pep rally send off on Wednesday.  And then yesterday to make sure to shake hands with each member of the other team from the swim-off before they swam.  And how proud he was of his entire team after they raced yesterday.  He is truly fabulous!  Go Scott Go!

Back to Farmington tomorrow.  Until then...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy Dance - Part 2!

 Hey, remember how we were happy dancing on Sunday for Scott?

Pull out those dancin' shoes again!!!!

I'm here in Canton and am thrilled to report after this morning's pre-lims the Boys 4 x 50 freestyle relay team from Fremont Ross qualified for the finals tomorrow!

Wiggle that groove thing!  Throw those hands up!  Dance, baby, dance!

Though nothing could ever be done in simple fashion this morning.  Let me recap my day for you.

It started at 3:30am (after Mom and I arrived just before 11:30 last night).  Why was I up at 3:30am?  Because we had to leave here by 4:30 to go stand in line.  Outside.  At 4:30 in the morning.  In Ohio.  In February.  Did I mention that we were supposed to get sleet and snow?  (which fortunately did end up holding off 'til later in the morning)

But take note Ohio Swim people, this was not the best way to run this meet.  While we already had tickets, you actually had to stand in line to get a number  (the first 400 only).  They started handing out numbers to the people in line at 6:00am.  When they opened the doors at 7:00am they then let people in by number order.  If you were over 400 I suppose you had to enter in mass chaos.  Who knows, I was 347.  So just after 6, we got our numbers and headed back to the car for 45 minutes to warm-up.  Before we had to wait outside again.  In the cold.  Until they started calling numbers at 7:00am.  Scott - consider yourself well loved.

So around 7:15 we were all inside (with pretty good seats!) and had to wait for the meet to start at 9:00.  The boys swam event 42 of 48 (the first 24 were Division II, so we technically started at event 25)  So we hung out for most of the meet, very very nervous.

By 11am we were getting close.  The boys were in Heat 3 (of 3, of course!).  24 teams qualified, the top 16 would go on to the final tomorrow.  They swam, we cheered.  We found out they placed 16th.

Mass rejoicing.


We find out there's actually a tie.  For 16th place!  And we have to be in a swim-off.  Nothing like a cliff hanger, here!  So the winner swims in the finals and the loser goes home (good thing I told you the outcome of this story already or you'd have been like all of us fans in the stands, panicked)  And of course the swim-offs aren't until after the end of the meet.

So within the next 45 minutes the meet ends.  There's actually 2 girls events that have swim offs (isn't that crazy?) then us.

Deep breath.

And the boys flew!  Not only did they win the swim-off they set a new school record!!!!  (By half a second at that)  So Scott's name will be added to the wall at the Ross pool - one of his goals for the past four years.

Have I mentioned lately how proud of him I am?

Finals tomorrow!!!!

The boys before their race

 A shot from their seat

 Scott on the blocks getting ready to swim

 And he's off!

 Scott post-swim

 The team pre swim-off

 I'm not sure who was more nervous - them or all the fans!

 Scott on the blocks, round 2

 Watching Chris (our final swimmer)


 So. Stinkin'. Proud.

Graham, Scott, Chris and Trent