Thursday, July 31, 2008

We Made It!

I was just unburdening my google reader and realized that my Feedjit location is coming up as Anchorage, Alaska. So if you see that on your live feed, no, you don't have a new crazy Alaskan stalker.

It's just me.

We made it.


Let's be honest. Presidential flash cards don't really appeal to 15-month-olds who appear to be on a sleep strike. For an entire day...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fact Flash Cards

Okay, I thought I was done posting until we left on our trip, but I did want to share one last thing. As any mother that LOVES to travel on an airplane with little ones (ha!), I tend to try and pack their carry-on backpacks with fun new things to look at and play with. But I can't justify spending very much money. So on a trip to Target yesterday, I stocked up some some $1bin flashcards...US state trivia, US presidential facts (hopefully only the "age-appropriate ones:-)), and world landmarks. Each has a picture on one side and fun facts and trivia on the back. I simply punch a hole in the corner of each card and string them on a binder ring. That way they stay together, are easy to control and don't get lost between the icky airplane seats.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Way To Go & On Our Way

This is a bit late in being posted, but a week ago Saturday, my sister Megan graduated from her Dietetics's Internship. It has been a long year of hard work and determination on her part and we were so pleased to make the drive down to Lincoln to be there with Megan for this big occasion. In another 6 months, she will have completed her Master's degree. Anna and I attended the ceremony and Tony took the boys to Morrill Hall to see Archie. Then we took Megan out to eat to celebrate and low and behold, we run into our good friends Leah and Chris Pobanz at Applebees!

This past weekend, Tony and two other attorneys from the legal office competed in the Mayor's Triathlon (Tony did the running leg). I don't have any pictures because, well, Tony took the camera with him and then didn't take any pictures. So just imagine us cheering our little hearts out for Tony as he flew by all the other guys who were tired from their swim and bike ride:-). Their team took second overall...way to go guys!

**UPDATED** Holly Odgen (her husband Aaron did the swimming leg of the Triathlon on Saturday) sent me some pictures of the guys so I could post one. Thank you, Holly! Tom, on the far left, actually did the entire Triathlon and then he and his wife hosted a BBQ that afternoon.

I also wanted to share our visiting teaching gifts for August. For some strange reason, I have always associated bees with the month of August. So I got some Burt's Beeswax Lip Balm, attached a cool quote and called it good.

"The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others." --St. John Chrysostom

Our family is leaving this week to spend 2 weeks in Alaska with my parents...a trip that has been so highly anticipated that I think grandma has a countdown paper chain, too. I'll be checking out blogs and my email, but may be a little slow to post depending on how much I can edit my digital pictures from my parents' computer. Also, the week we get home is the one year anniversary of our blog, so check back for a giveaway...maybe even with some stuff from Alaska in the mix...

Saturday, July 26, 2008


We hope everyone had a refreshing Saturday.

Josh sure did. :-)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bowl 'o Josh & New Bracelets

Why do we even buy toys for our children when they sit unused in a lieu of something never meant as a toy? Case in point. Josh in my stainless steel mixing bowl. No sooner have I wiped it and put it away and he's got it out again. And is sitting in it.

And lookie, lookie what I found on clearance at Target today. A triple strand necklace for $3.74 that is...okay. But a steal at that price. So I brought it home, took it apart, and made these. Three bracelets that I'll wear together.

And MANY thanks to my cousin Amanda for teaching me how to make bracelets all those summers ago.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Garden Bounty

Beautiful summer squash and a tomato from Tony's garden.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the kind comments that were made over at Tip Junkie yesterday. I feel like I've made a hundred new friends! Your encouraging words made my entire week. Simply amazing.

And thank you, Laurie, for making the introductions.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tip Junkie Giveaway!


Here are the things that I donated to Laurie for Tip Junkie's 20 Days of Giveaway!

If you like what you see, please head over to Tip Junkie and leave a comment. You have to leave a comment on the Tip Junkie blog on my giveaway page to win. But hurry...she'll randomly select a winner tomorrow morning! If you decide to enter, in your comment let Laurie know your a friend of mine.

Good Luck!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tomorrow is the Day!

Just a quick reminder that TOMORROW, Tuesday JULY 22nd is my giveaway day on Tip Junkie! So stop by here again tomorrow and follow the Tip Junkie link and leave a comment over there to win. It won't do you any good to leave a comment here (although it would make me smile:-) have to leave a comment on the post about my giveaway on Tip Junkie's blog. Stop by tomorrow to see the loot up for grabs...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mosaic Meme

Cocoa tagged me with this awesome Flickr mosaic tag.

If you'd like to play along, here is what you do.

1. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
2. Use only the first page of results, and pick one image.
3. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into Big Huge Lab’s Mosaic Maker to create a mosaic of the picture answers.

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. What is your favorite drink?
7. What is your dream vacation?
8. What is your favorite dessert?
9. What did you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. What is one word that describes you?
12. What is your Flickr name?

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thank You, Chris Daughtry

I'm a smart girl. I made the Dean's List in college. I rock at Jeopardy. But I have a really hard time getting used to new technology. I'm definitely a hand's on learner. Allow me to illustrate.

Tony bought me an iPod to listen to when I run in races. And it has sat in it's packaging for months. Months. But yesterday, I heard this song that changed all that.

So thank you, Chris Daughtry, for forcing me to go outside my comfort zone. For forcing me to open my iPod.

And I'm in love.

With the iPod, not Chris Daughtry.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Caramel Apple Trifle

This was my contribution to munch & mingle tonight and I wanted to share. I found the original recipe on, but changed it up just a touch to suit my neurosis. If you like apple pie than this is the trifle for you!

Caramel Apple Trifle

1 yellow cake mix (and the ingredients to make it)
3 cups cold milk
1 & 1/2 pkgs. vanilla instant pudding mix
1/2 tsp. apple pie spice
1 jar caramel ice cream topping
3/4 cup toasted pecans
1 can apple pie filling
1 (16 oz.) container cool whip

1. Prepare cake according to directions in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Allow to cool completely and then cut into 1 inch cubes. In a large bowl, whisk milk, pudding (save the extra half package for another time) and apple pie spice for 2 minutes. Allow to stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set.

2. Put a layer of cooled cake squares in the bottom of a 4 qt. trifle bowl. Pour about 3 ounces of caramel topping over cake layer. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the nuts, and then half of the pudding mixture. Spoon half the can of pie filling on top of pudding. Spread half carton of cool whip on top. Repeat all layers, ending with layer of cool whip. Drizzle with caramel topping and top with remaining nuts.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sister's Day

We have a long drought of kids' birthdays between the beginning of April and the end of October. And when you're a kid, that must be almost unbearable. So after celebrating Mother's Day, Father's Day and then Tony's birthday, Anna tearfully asked, "Mama, when is it going to be Sister's Day?" So the McIllece family has declared the second Sunday of July "Sister's Day" and the second Sunday in August "Brother's Day." The kids get to pick breakfast (because our church is so late, we don't have a lot of time for dinner), get a little gift from the $1 bin, and get to make all relevant decisions for the day.

It was Sister's Day today. Our Anna just glowed. Isn't it fabulous that a made-up holiday and a Sleeping Beauty Pez dispenser can make a day so magical??

Friday, July 11, 2008

My New H**ker Shoes

Where has this week gone?? I feel like it was just yesterday that I was planning my week...and now it's practically over. What the heck?? But the real reason I am posting today is to get your opinion. You see, my sister and I went shopping last weekend. While I was browsing some amazing jewelry, I hear Megan utter under her breath behind me, "Oh my gosh. Those are so h**ker shoes." But Megan mutters a ton so I didn't pay very much attention. Then I turned around and the angels sang and a spotlight shone on these little ladies.

And they even had them in my size. However, apparently, these were the very same shoes that Megan was muttering about. I bought them anyway. I even wore them to church...without the ankle straps, of course, 'cause that would be pushing it. So I ask you, my friends. Are these h**ker shoes?? Tell me the truth. I'm a big girl.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sam's Magic Trick

This is what Sam and I did this afternoon. Notice the magician's hat he made himself.

**WARNING!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!** In case you'd like to try this with your kiddos, this is how you do the trick. Gather 2 pieces of paper that are the same color, a square of fabric, a penny, a tall glass, a glue stick, pencil, and scissors. Trace the mouth of the glass on one of the pieces of paper. Carefully cut out the circle and glue it onto the mouth of the glass. Place it mouth down on the uncut piece of paper and the penny...and the penny will magically disappear!

This is a trick we did when I was a little made Sam's day today. Maybe it could add a little joy to a rainy summer day at your house, too.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Catching Up

Hope everyone had a fantastic 4th of July weekend thus far...Tony took Sam fishing and Anna and Josh are asleep so I thought I'd take a moment and catch up some some things. Tie up some loose ends. Breathe.

First of all, I saw this great drink idea for the 4th over at Chocolate On My Cranium and we just had to try them. What a HIT! Here are the instructions...

Next, I finally found some patriotically decorated salt water taffies and used them to fill these star plates I found at Target for visiting teaching gifts in July. I love the way they turned out.

Tony's garden is ROCKIN'. We've already harvested tomatoes, strawberries and lots of sugar snap peas. Nothing better than fresh from the vine sugar snap peas. And the chicken wire has effectively kept the rabbits out (knock on wood...). Here are the before pictures.

And just for kicks, ever since we went to see Kung Fu Panda, the kids have become Kung Fu masters. Seriously.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, my friends!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Tissue Paper Paper

Our ward just started a craft enrichment interest group and asked me to do a quick presentation on how to make tissue paper usable for paper crafting. Thought it might be something to share! My mom taught this to me many years ago and I have found that the cutest tissue paper I find is at the bottom of my shopping bags...Old Navy, The Feathered Nest, Victoria's Secret. And now, you can use it to make actual projects...even if it's all wrinkled up.

First, carefully crinkle up your tissue paper. I like to mash it up, open it up, and then mash it again.

Gently open up your tissue paper and lay it face down on your ironing board. Cut a piece of freezer paper (sold in stores by the plastic wrap and aluminum foil) just a bit smaller than the tissue paper and place it shiny side down on the top of the tissue paper. Shiny side of the freezer paper will be to the wrong side of the tissue paper.
Using your iron on it's highest setting WITHOUT STEAM, iron the freezer paper onto the back of the tissue paper, moving constantly. I usually make several passes to make sure it's good and stuck.

Voila! I like to use it for darling wrapping paper. And the best part is because the back side of the freezer paper is matte, you can cut a piece of the extra and make a tiny card to match and actually write on the inside.

I've also used this paper on cards...

...and on scrapbook pages (the letters are cut from pigskin tissue paper).

Have a happy (and safe) 4th!

Pizza Salad

This isn't TECHNICALLY a BBQ recipe (which is the theme for this month's Recipe Box Swap), but it is the thing that I am asked to bring most frequently to Tony's work BBQs and our family 4th of July picnics. I hope that is a good enough connection. I found this in my mom's recipe file, and it has been a huge success...every time we make it.

Pizza Salad

Tomato-Basil Dressing:
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

Mix tomatoes, oil and garlic in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Transfer to blender. Add vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar and basil. Pulse to blend and set aside.

1 Bolboli crust
(baked at 450 degrees for 8-10minutes and then cut into 2" squares)

3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 lb. diced mozzarella cheese
6 cups green leaf lettuce pieces (I use romaine)
1/2 of 3.5 oz. package of pepperoni, cut in half

Combine all ingredient and add dressing. Toss and serve. Delish.

Thanks, Randi, for another great swap!