Fun with Harper

To keep my niece entertained during the Super Bowl we baked some cookies. She picked the shapes and the colors. I think she did a great job of decorating them too. I let her bring home a cookie sheet full and of course she picked all the ones mommy and auntie decorated, but I don’t mind. I missed out on these younger years with my girls as we adopted them at 8, so any chance I get to have kid creations around my house, I count myself blessed.

As for the game…it’s a bummer that the Rams didn’t win.

Ask and Yee shall Receive

When I was a small girl, I asked for a sister…I got one

There was a time in my youth where I wasn’t so happy about that

Turns out I don’t like sharing so much

But…as we got older we got closer and have had some great adventures

I honestly don’t know what my life would be like without her in it

She just gets me

She is the sweetest and kindest person I know

She’s my best friend

….and today we celebrate her 41st Birthday!

It’s the month of Me…let me explain.

January is the month of Me!  This month I will be turning 43, holy smokes!  It’s hard to believe only because that means my parents are almost 70 and my kids are almost adults.  CRAZY! I will be taking the month to introduce you to things that make me ME, things I love, maybe even things that I don’t love so much, because after all, that’s what makes me ME.  

First a few demographics.  I am a woman, almost 43, Midwesterner born and raised.  I have my roots in Norway, Finland, Germany, Austria. I love lefse and beer.  I have been to Germany and Austria, but one day I will make it to Norway and Finland too.  

I have two daughters who are at the moment 17 and 13.  They live most of the time with their Dad, but I see them all the time because we only live 5 minutes apart.  If we wanted to, we could walk to each other’s homes in less than an hour. As they have gotten older I see them less and less, with their work, activities, and friends, this makes me sad, but I know it’s a part of growing up for them and for me.

Visiting most of my family requires me to hop in the car for a road trip.  My dad and stepmom live in Northern Minnesota, and my mother lives in Michigan.  I have several aunts and uncles in my vicinity, as well as cousins, but it’s not the same as having immediate family close by.  That makes me sad sometimes. My sister Melanie is the closest. She’s only a half hour away thankfully, but everyone else is a trek.

Me and my sister Melanie from Christmas this year.

I have my college degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing.  I picked that major after going through some other majors on my college journey because I figured I could do anything with it. That logic is correct, but it gives me too many options which is very overwhelming for this introvert.  I have gone in several directions from merchandising in a catalog, data analysis, and database creation, but I am currently working in technical support at a business very close to home. I like helping people all day, but when I get home I am ready to do something creative like cooking, baking, painting, or taking my dog for a walk.

I have discovered that if I don’t do something creative daily it really affects my mood.  Another thing that I must do daily is go outside. I have a dog which provides the perfect excuse to do this multiple times a day.  Not that I need an excuse, I’m a grown up afterall.

So that’s just a start to what makes Gretchen who she is.  Now comes the fun part! Stay tuned.

The Handsome Otto

When I moved back to the cities to be closer to my girls, who live with their dad I had to make a very difficult decision. I left Otto behind with my boyfriend. He lives on 20 acres, and that’s where Otto has grown up. I didn’t want to bring him to the city and coop him up inside my townhouse all day. He’s used to running around, herding the chickens, chasing rabbits, and following his nose wherever it takes him.

I miss him a lot, but I know that he’s happy there, and I get to see him every other weekend, and we facetime on the off weeks. He doesn’t really understand how momma is in the phone and runs around looking for me, but at least I don’t feel so disconnected from him.

He’s the sweetest boy even with the tough start to life. He was born on a Texas porch with 9 other pups. His mom was a stray, but thankfully they were rescued. Unfortunately, he and his siblings got Parvo and only 4 survived. He, his 3 brothers, and his mom came to Minnesota, and that’s were our story began.

He loves going to work with his dad at the cabinet shop, taking long walks in the woods, and discovering new places. We just took him up to the North Shore on Lake Superior. He didn’t know what to think of that big lake, but he did love it.

He also loves his little sister Zelda, and when the two of them get together they play constantly. He’s a great little big brother, he never hurts her even though he out weighs her by 50 pounds.

Now you have met 3 of my furry babies. Only a few more to go, but have no fear, I will introduce you too them all in due time.

The Best Tasting Holiday Tradition: Cookies!

On Sunday I spent 9 hours creating hundreds of cookies to be gobbled up by family and friends.  Every year my sister and I get together for a whole day of baking.  On various years we have different helpers.  This year we were joined by my Auntie Barb and my niece Harper.  Of course Harper is only really interested in eating the sweet treats and decorating with sprinkles.

This is the first year that we have had Aunt Barb with us and she is so much fun.  She only has boys, and now that my mom lives in Michigan, it’s great to spend time with her.  It’s fun to gossip about my parents as teenagers and my grandparents too.  She’s always full of good advice and I love to hear all her fun stories.

We start out by putting all the things that we will need on my sister’s card table.  On a side note, do people use these for playing cards anymore?  It helps to have all our ingredients in one spot, we just have to make sure that we put it back so that we can find it for the next recipe.  This is apparently a difficult task for us at times, but at least we try to get ourselves organized.

My sister and I work really well as a team.  Her kitchen is small but we make it work  with these stack-able cooling racks.  Peanut Butter Blossoms take a long time to cool and you don’t want to smoosh the kisses.  There’s got to be a joke in there somewhere.  New to the cookie line up we added Sandbakkels this year in honor of my grandmother LaVonne, Auntie Barb’s mom, who passed away this year.  They are buttery goodness, but take up lots of space when cooling.  Thank goodness for stack-able racks!

(Cookie Lineup : Almond Bark covered Pretzels with sprinkles, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Spritz, Sandbakkels, Haystacks, Melting Moments, Glorified Grahams, and Pumpkin Cake-balls at the top.)

The marathon day of baking is the fun part for me, and the copious amounts of delicious treats aren’t bad either.  I can’t wait for next year!