Tuesday, April 1, 2014

'Blown Away' by Miss Beth

This morning a bit of a miracle occurred - I had both kids in school and for those two hours I didn't have anywhere else I was supposed to be or anything I was supposed to be responsible for.  This NEVER happens.  So I took advantage of it and met up for a cup of coffee with a friend for part of it.  It was nice to chat without worrying about any interruptions :)

But all good things must come to an end so after tackling some things around the house (oh how I love laundry...) I decided to scrap my initial plan of scrubbing down the bathroom (pretty sure that the spots on the mirror aren't going anywhere...) and instead I picked the Bean up from school in the wagon.  She's been asking for weeks to do this (she'd have had me out there at 12 degrees pulling her around) and though it was blustery it was still 60 out so it seemed like a good time to take advantage of it.  Then she came home to help me make Swedish Butter Cookies in Kid Kitchen.  I mentioned yesterday that Grant grew up in Rockford.  It is my understanding from him and from all the times that I have been there (his Dad and Grandma still live there!) that the city has a large number of Swedes, including Grant's family.  He has introduced me to things like Swedish pancakes (which there are restaurants devoted to in Rockford) and I have attempted to learn the delicate art of making Kroppkakor.  So I wanted to work a Swedish recipe in this week in honor of the Swedish influence in Illinois.  The Bean and I had fun making these and they were the perfect dessert tonight.  Noah, who loves shortbread like cookies, adored these.

I also mentioned yesterday how important pumpkins are to the state.  90% of all the pumpkins grown in the US are grown within a 100 mile radius of Peoria.  And the city of Morton, about 15 minutes away from Peoria is known for its pumpkins.  Not only does it hold the Morton Pumpkin Festival every year (complete with pumpkin' chuckin' Noah was delighted to find out) but the Libby's canning plant located there cans 85% of the WORLD's pumpkin supply.  So I hunted down some of the winning recipes from last year's pumpkin festival and we decided to try Harvest Crock Pot Tamale Pie for dinner tonight. I love my crock pot.  I paired it with the pumpkin muffins that the recipe mentions (it's part of that same link) which were delicious!  Honestly I lived in Peoria for almost five years and I knew of the festival and that the Libby plant was there but I had no idea just how many pumpkins Illinois produced.  We were happy to partake in a bit of its bounty tonight!

I have been looking forward to tonight's 'mail call' for weeks.  We are blessed to have a lot of wonderful people in our life from the state of Illinois and one of the best friends a girl could ever hope to have, my 'sister from another mister', my 2nd mom in some ways and the best damn paralegal I know is one of the nearest and dearest to my heart.  So I was delighted when my friend and co-worker Beth instantly volunteered to hook us up with mail from The Land of Lincoln.  And not only volunteered, but has been enthusiastic about doing so - even going on trips to hunt things down and enlisting other members of her family to help.  (Thanks Paul David!)  She'd hinted as to a few of the goodies she put into her Illinois box for the kiddos but I have been waiting eagerly to finally get a chance to open it with Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Yet again, my heart was overwhelmed when we opened the box.  While the kids honestly love getting any mail at all (Noah is still laughing about the Coach Potato postcard from last week) they have been spoiled rotten by some of the state boxes they have gotten.  Beth's was chock full of postcards, key chains, a very cool Chicago skyline globe and "Windy City" fans I may never be able to get away from them!  You'll have to see all the goodies in the pictures.  In the meantime, Beth like usual, you went above and beyond and delighted my twosome tonight.  Love ya chicky, thanks for sharing Illinois with my kiddos!

Not exactly sure what tomorrow looks like (Kayla and I are on a mission in the morning to hunt down the movie I have in mind for Friday night) but here's a hint as to this week's project tomorrow night - you're so vain!  And we're going to try out an authentic Illinois creation, a horseshoe sandwich!  And I'm going to try making a cake straight from Mary Todd Lincoln's recipe book.  Sounds like a good one for sure!  Until then...

Illinois Fun Fact of the Day:  Illinois has more units of government than any other state (i.e., city, county, township, etc.). Over six thousand. One contributing reason may be the township governments, which are generally six miles square.

A good day for a wagon ride

Ready to help in the kitchen (she honestly made these about 90% on her own)


Rolling them out

Kayla got them all rolled out and ready for the oven

Swedish Butter cookies

Taste test!

We have mail!

Pumpkin Corn Muffins (these were fabulous - perfect for the dish but they'd be great on their own, too.  And really easy to make!)

Harvest Tamale Pie

Adding some points of interest to our giant map

Miss Beth sent an awesome map of Peoria and we were able to find where Bradley was, where Grant and I both lived during school and where we moved to on the north end, where Ketra's office was until recently, where it is now, and some of our other favorite spots!  Loved this!!

 There was also a map of Illinois and we were able to better point out all the cities/places where we knew people from

The fans were a HUGE hit

They light up and actually say "Windy City Chicago" on them.  The words appear to move.  They would not put them down

Lucky Penny key chains from Springfield

Magnet with state facts

Some really neat postcards

Two VERY happy kiddos

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