Monday, December 17, 2012

Shock, tears and numbness

The Sandy Hook Elementary shooting happened 3 days ago.  I've avoided the news channels on TV as well as the internet.  I just couldn't watch the details.  I have a 4 1/2 year old, this event was just more than I could handle.  I'm sure my reaction was similar to many other parents, shock, tears, numbness, the feeling that you are just going to throw-up.  Questions with no answers.

I've read a few things on FB, posts from friends, some news updates, but mostly I just avoided it all.  I cried, played with my son, hugged him about every 10 seconds and cried some more.

Finally this morning, I forced myself to look at NBCNews and read the names of the victims. I looked at the faces of those sweet, innocent children and the faces of those brave school administrators.  They are now all together, in heaven.

I'm still searching for a way to help myself deal with this tragedy.  I read something about how the media goes on and on about the shooters and that is the name you always remember.  I also read about how at one church the pastor had all the victims names on the alter and asked the worshipers to select one of the victims and pray for that victim and their family for an entire year.  Well in this case, I choose to remember the victims, all of them. I created a monthly prayer list, once victim for every day of the month.  I added a few people after the 27 victims, because there are so many people that need our prayers.

Prayers to you all

Monday, December 10, 2012

Reindeer Muffins

It was Mr. Non-Stop's turn to take snacks to preschool.  I try to send something that isn't completely filled with sugar.  A classroom full of 4 year olds is already crazy, they don't need extra sugar!  Mr. Non-Stop loves blueberry muffins and assumes that everyone else will also love them.  But I can't just send plan old boring muffins, so I created reindeer muffins!

They are really easy and it didn't take long to assemble.  Yes, I used peanut butter but you could use frosting if peanut butter isn't "allowed"!

Supplies: Blueberry muffins, red M&M's, chocolate chips, pretzels and peanut butter.

With a knife or spreader, cut slits across the top of the muffin (this is where the antlers will go)

Spread a little bit of peanut butter across the bottom of the pretzels and then slide into the slits.

Completed antlers

Now it is time to attach the eyes and nose.  Again using peanut butter, put peanut butter on the pointed part of the chocolate chip and press into the muffin.

Put a little bit of peanut butter on the M&M and press into the muffin to attach the nose

Completed Reindeer!

The kids and Mr. Non-Stop loved them!

The Chop Haus

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Oh that Crazy Elf!

Christopher Pop-in-Kins made his first appearance a our Haus last year.  Mr. Non-Stop doesn't really remember the elf making his visit, so this will really be our first year of having lots of fun!  We read the book on Thanksgiving night and Christopher popped in on Friday, November 30. He even wrote a note to Mr. Non-Stop and delivered his Christmas jammies.

So far Christopher hasn't gotten into too much trouble.  Mr. Non-stop wasn't very happy about Christopher playing with his toys.  But we figured it was a good chance to teach our only child how to share!  Especially since he can't touch Christopher or get his toy back. 

So far here's few of Christopher's hiding spots and nightly antics!
Where is he?  This hiding spot took a while before he was found.

Oh, there he is, just hanging out with the Nutcrackers!

On top of the refrigerator with with snow men.

Christopher cut out snow flakes!
Making Elf Mix!

Got caught playing in the decorations.

We read the Gingerbread man story, so Christopher made paper Gingerbread boys.
It's Christopher and Charlie-in-the-Box!
Just hanging around1
Going for a ride.

Card anyone?

He's Crafty!
Roasting Marshmallows

Getting ready to build


Elf donuts (cheerios)

Christopher's last day.  He left us a donut pan and a recipe

I'll update as Christoper continues to have fun at our Haus!

The Chop Haus

Friday, November 16, 2012

Halloween Costume

Yes, I know, Halloween is over, but it is still one of my favorite holidays.  I love dressing up and going to our friends annual costume party.  Mr. ChopHaus goes along with this, well, because he has to!  I think mostly he goes along with it because I have so much fun.

This year I wanted something simple, quick and easy.  I (there was no we) decided on Velma and Shaggy.  For Mr. ChopHaus all we needed was a green t-shirt, and the best part, he could wear it again!  He grew out his beard and then shaved and trimmed it the day of the party.

 I borrowed an orange turtleneck, my sister just happened to have one and the shoes are mine.  I had to buy the skirt, Salvation Army sale day for 99 cents and the glasses came from the Target $1 bin.  It was the orange socks that proved to be the most elusive and most expensive!  I ended up buying them at a sporting goods store.  They are baseball socks!  Total cost for the socks, $5.99 plus tax.  And I still wear the socks, they go great under my boots.  Not bad for inexpensive, easy costume!

The Chop Haus

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Smashed Potatoes

I made these little gems for dinner last night.  They are FABULOUS, but I love slightly crunchy potatoes, so I knew I would love them.

I made a much smaller amount than the original recipe called for and because I was in a huge hurry, I microwaved the potatoes.  My modified recipe is listed below, you can click on either link at the bottom for the original version.

Small red potatoes (1 1/2 – 2″ diameter) I only cooked 9 of the smallest in the bag
Extra virgin olive oil
Garlic Salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Place one oven rack at the lowest position and one at the top position.
Scrub the red potatoes.

Microwave on high for about 5 - 6 minutes until cooked.

When the potatoes are done, toss potatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil making sure each is coated with oil.  Take a cup and “smash” each potato to about 1/3 – 1/2 in thick {this is the fun part}.

Drizzle another 2 tablespoons olive oil on the potatoes, sprinkle with rosemary, garlic salt and pepper.  Place the potatoes in your 500 degree oven on the top rack and bake  for 15 minutes.  Move potatoes to the lower oven rack and continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes (until nice and brown).  I turned the potatoes over a couple of times, because I wanted both sides to have crispy edges.

Hmmm . . . crispy brown on the outside, moist and tender in the center.  These potatoes are so good!

I originally found this recipe on Pinterest, but they credited America's Test Kitchen.

Another fabulous  recipe found on Pinterest!

The Chop Haus

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Advent Calendar

Last year was the first year we really celebrated Advent.  I love the count down to Jesus' Birthday, the anticipation of what is to come just excites me to the core.  In an effort to help Mr. Non-Stop understand the true meaning of Christmas we felt a countdown of the days accompanied by an appropriate Bible reading would help get our family into the Christmas spirit.

Yes, I had just about everything I needed on hand to make the calendar!

Items used
Green light weight wool fabric
Red felt for the squares
Various Christmas fabric
Double sided wonder under 
Fabric / Craft glue
White Ribbon 
Silver Ribbon
Green Ribbon
Red Ribbon
Yellow felt
Silver number stickers - Office Max
Round tags with silver rims - Office Max
Rod to slip through the top to hang (which you can't see!)
Parchment paper
Bible verses with appropriate "gift" - found at

The fabric was 36" wide.  The fabric was really long so I hung it up in the house where it would hang once completed.  Marked off the length, left extra to make a rod loop at the top, trimmed the fabric and  turned back the edges and used wonder under to secure it to the back side. 

The red felt squares are cut to 4".  Each Christmas fabric was also cut to 4".  I ironed back the edge of each square so they would have a clean look.  I knew I was going to glue the Christmas fabric to the red felt leaving the top open to make the pocket.  I used white shinny ribbon to cover the cut edge of the Christmas fabric so it wouldn't fray and "flip up" when the items were removed from the pocket. I then glued the Christmas fabric to the red felt squares to create each pocket.

I laid out my squares in the shape of a tree, moved them around 100 times before I was satisfied with the lay out of the fabrics, and then glued them in place.

I copied the Bible verses from the website and pasted into Word.  I used a nice font, and printed the verses on a cream colored parchment paper.  Each verse is rolled up to look like a scroll and placed in the pocket.

I also had to locate all 25 items listed with the Bible verses. Some I had to purchase, but many I already had at home!  I put each one in a plastic button bag (you know, the ones that the extra buttons come in when you buy new clothes!). 

The silver rimmed number tags were purchased at Office Max.  They also had silver foil number stickers that fit onto the tags.  Once the tags were ready I used, red, green or silver ribbon to attach the tags to the gift bags.  I actually taped the ribbon to the bag so you can just pull the ribbon and the gift bag comes out.

I made the yellow felt star so we could place the star in the pocket of the current Advent day.

On Christmas morning after looking at the tree and not touching anything, we finished the Advent calendar first and said Happy Birthday Baby Jesus!

Sorry for the lack of photos, I wasn't in the how to document what you are doing mode, when I created the calendar!

Here is to the start of a fabulous Christmas!

11/30/12 - I found another website with Bible readings and "gifts" that reinforce the message, rather than an item that is given to a child.  Sweeter Than Sweets had a great list of readings and easy to find items.  I didn't have to buy a single item!

The Chop Haus

Not Ready

I thought for sure I wasn't ready for Christmas season start.  Heck, Mr. Non-Stop asked me on Monday if we could put up our tree!  My first thought was, no way.  I had just packed away the Halloween decorations.  Traditionally, I transition from fall to winter / Christmas during Thanksgiving week.  Stuff comes down, items get cleaned and then out comes the holiday decor.

I realized how quickly Christmas is arriving.  I went to buy stocking stuffers for our adopted charity at work and BAM! it hit me.  I am so ready.  I think it is the excitement of watching Mr. Non-Stop get excited.  I think we may have to start creating a few new decorations that he can help with.  The other item that got me motivated was all the Elf on the Shelf items on Pinterest.  We however have Christopher Pop-in-Kins.  I was trying to decide which one I wanted and someone gave me Christopher.  Last year was the first year the Elf visited the Chop Haus, he might have to have more fun this year, kind of like Elf on the Shelf.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

It is here, finally, election day.  I would love to say, it is done.  But I have a feeling we might not know the final result for days.  I really hope that isn't the case, but only time will tell.  I did my best to not get involved in political debates with friends and co-workers, I tried not to post "stuff" on Facebook.  I really want to be friends with my friends once the election is over.

I wish I had been able to take Mr. Non-Stop with me to the polling station.  But standing in line with a 4 1/2 year old did not sound like fun!  I figure I can take him during the "off" years.  I want him to see how the process works and why we should be proud to live in the United States and how important it is that we can vote.  I feel lucky, the voting process only took 35 minutes for me and I was in line before they even opened!

I will be happy that the ads and phone calls will come to an end and that I can now just look at puppies, kids and crazy postcards on Facebook without having to hide every other post!

Have a fabulous election day!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Coney Sauce

I feel like I am always looking for the right coney sauce.  Good flavor not to sweet, not to runny, not to this or that....  Finally after numerous trials I have found a coney sauce I can make over and over again!

2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
Place the ground beef and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring to crumble, until beef is browned. Drain. Transfer the beef and onion to a slow cooker and stir in the ketchup, sugar, vinegar and mustard. Season with celery seed, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and salt. Cover and simmer on Low setting for a few hours before serving. 

From All Recipes