That title is misleading.  This isn’t a post about paint by numbers although it is a post with numbers on paintings.

Way back on that one random picture of the day post I implored you to pick which pair of shoes was mine (I’m riveting these days I know) and even offered “bonus points” to the winner.  Bonus points.  I’m like skee-ball giving you a hundred more tickets and a free rubber bracelet.

Woot.  Woot.

Anyway, Mavis was the first person to correctly pick out my cowboy boots and when I offered her some original Petey artwork as a prize . . . get this . . . she accepted.  Crazy.  This world is crazy that a random internet reader would actually want my kids’ artwork!!!!

Okay not so crazy considering I’ve known Mavis since first grade and she works at the same company as my mom and they chat sometimes.

I decided to use this opportunity to eek out another blog post so I don’t completely neglect the place in my newborn sleep deprived state.  Sleep deprivation is a serious thing people and not to be underestimated.

Petey has painted several masterpieces lately and I thought it would be nice to let Mavis choose which one she wanted.  I mean, it needs to match her decor, whatever that may be.  I don’t even know where she plans on displaying it.  Will she have it professionally framed with masterpiece glass to hang in the formal dining room?  Will it be displayed on the fridge?  Will it line her sock drawer?  In that case she would need to pick a piece that coordinates with her socks.

So here are Mavis’s choices.

A washable Crayola paint masterpiece illustrating that when you mix colors together, no matter which ones, you get brown.  Always brown.

P Paint 1 number

Another Crayloa paint piece . . .  I think it’s a guinea pig with wings eating a snack. Oh and he’s wearing blue shoes on his hind paws.  And he has a pink eye.

P Paint 2 number

Do you see it now?

P Paint 2 title

Here we have Petey’s watercolor phase . . . entitled “Mama Still Hasn’t Found Where That Teal Color Dripped on the Floor.”

P Paint 4 number

And another depicting some lovely color gradients.

P Paint 3 number

In the interest of full disclosure, this last piece wasn’t all painted by Sweetey Petey.  He said “mama paint” and handed me a paint brush.  So I helped.  Here’s the part I did.

P Paint 3 circled

And just in case Mavis has realized she made a grave mistake and really doesn’t want Petey’s artwork, she can also pick one of mine titled “Using Up The Paint So I Don’t Have To Wash It Down The Sink aka Why Does The Toddler Get To Have All The Fun?”.  The Husband thinks it easily looks like a six year old could have painted it.  So there’s that.

Jo Paint 1 number

Sooooooo Mavis . . . which one is it going to be??

– Joanna

Question of the Day:  Which one would you pick?  What’s your favorite?  Tell me you see the guinea pig.

The new thing in the food blog world is over sharing weekly meal plans.  It takes the every popular WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday) and expands it into WIAFD (What I Ate For Dinner) or WIAFDAWLAIYC (What I Ate For Dinner All Week Long As If You Care).

I have to confess . . . I care.  I like reading these posts.  Cooking dinner has become such a chore lately and I find myself preparing the same meals over and over as well as stressing all day over what I’m going to make and then tossing stuff into the oven last minute.

Trying to get dinner on the table with Sweetey Petey running around the house like a mad banshee was hard enough . . . with a new baby in the mix it’ll be nearly impossible without a plan.

So I made a plan.


I created an excel spreadsheet with spaces for meal plans, suggestions for daily protein and lists of the healthiest fruits and veggies that I think we should be eating on a regular basis.  It gives me the option of listing seven meals and crossing off food as we eat it.  As I get rolling with this system hopefully I can flip back through previous weeks to see that we haven’t eaten broccoli in a while or have been seriously carrot deficient or have eaten way too much spaghetti squash and not enough butternut.  Can one eat too much spaghetti squash???  I’m not sure they can, but you get the idea.

I’m also using this as a way to test out some of the cookbooks in my massive collection.  Most weeks I will just add a few new recipes so as not to overwhelm myself and the best recipes will be added to our family recipe binder.

This past week I tested out The Working Stiff Cookbook.

Woring Stiff Cookbook

I picked this up on clearance at a used book store many many moons ago . . . you know, back when I worked.  Out of the house that is because I clearly still work I just no longer get paid for it.

So here’s my week worth of dinners, in no particular order.  Food in purple and bold are recipes from the cookbook.

Meal 1: spaghetti (squash) with portobellos, prosciutto and cream with pan fried tilapia

Spag Squash RW

Tilapia RW

Meal 2: chicken breasts with artichokes and mushrooms over gluten free orzo pasta with steamed carrots and no sugar added apricot jelly 

Chx Artichokes RW

Meal 3: frittata rustica with Paleo coconut flour “cornbread” and roasted asparagus.

Frittata RW

Meal 4: butternut squash soup with salad topped with hard boiled egg, blackberries, parmesan cheese and leftover sliced chicken breast

Soup and salad RW

Meal 5: Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with leftover butternut squash soup

Sammy and Soup RW

Meal 6: Pulled pork and coleslaw (good friends made this meal and dropped it off to us)

Pig Title RW

Meal 7: burgers on gluten free bagels with homemade guac and GMO free corn chips and leftover steamed carrots with no sugar added jelly


There was supposed to be a salmon recipe from the cookbook as well, but I got lazy and bumped it for the easy grilled sandwich and leftover soup night.  I’ve bumped the salmon recipe to another week instead.

So . . .  what did I think of this book so far?

I give it a C+ and here’s why.

The spaghetti with cream sauce reminded me of a favorite dish my mom used to make when I was a kid.  So I will probably make mom’s dish instead of this one.  It’s simple yet decadent, although with heavy whipping cream as a main ingredient I wouldn’t suggest you make this dish every week.

The chicken breast was good . . . but I was not a fan of the artichokes.  I think it was the white wine sauce.  And the artichokes.  I don’t think I like artichokes, which stinks because they are good for you – iron rich and help ease digestion.  I have a recipe for artichoke meatloaf that I do really enjoy so for now I think I’ll stick with that to get my artichokes in.

The frittata was an excellent way to use up the eggs we’ve amassed since all seven of our chickens are now laying.  And breakfast for dinner (brinner) is always a win in my book.  This recipe is easily customizable with different veggies and cheeses as well.  But (yes, there’s a but) while it was good I recently made some omelet muffins that are a similar concept but were better.

The butternut squash soup was delightful and much easier to make than I would have thought.  The spices (ginger, coriander, cinnamon and clove) lent a sweet side to this dish which I enjoyed but I do think the soup could have used another layer.  Perhaps replacing some of the water with homemade chicken stock and maybe adding in an herb.  I think sage would be nice here.  Once I add a few things I think I’ll add this soup to our recipe binder.

My two complaints are one, while the recipes were good they were maybe a smidge “meh” and two, the recipes take longer than the book claims, especially those that need to be reduced like the artichoke and mushroom sauce (90 seconds my arse) and the soup.

We’ll see how the salmon recipe fares and for now I think the book will stay in my collection (I’ll revisit it again someday.)  There’s an interesting recipe for steak cooked in a paper bag I’m curious to try.

– Joanna

Question of the Day: How do you feel about artichokes?  Yay?  Nay?  Meh?  Do you like reading these sorts of posts?  It took too long to put together for me to make this a weekly thing right now but it was fun and I may do it again in the future.

Thanks to the Father-in-Law for pitch hitting here… and thanks to IMDB for their film pics.

Here I am again dear reader.  Joanna seems a bit busy these days so she may not mind if I take up some of her cyber space for a while.  Today I’d like to take you for a stroll down movie memory lane.  Before ten million dollar special effects became the norm, it was the acting that carried the load in movies.  Most of the films I’m going to suggest are probably older than most of you that are reading this, so you may have missed them.

I’m assuming Netflix or your local library would have many of them.  Movies, like songs, tend to bring back pleasant memories of high school dates or weekends with friends.  I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve shed a tear or two at the movies.  Fourteen dollar tubs of popcorn and nine dollar sodas just do that to me.  So, in no particular order or category, here is my list of must see films:

Love Story

Love Story –  (1970) This is the ultimate chick flick starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neil.  “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”  Have several handkerchiefs handy.

The Graduate

The Graduate – (1967)  Hello Mrs. Robinson!  Anne Bancroft (the original cougar) and Dustin Hoffman create an awkward love triangle. The Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack is icing on this brilliant coming of age cake.

Midnight Cowboy

Midnight Cowboy –  (1969)  Another Dustin Hoffman hit.  This time he teams up with Jon Voight (you know, Angelina’s dad).  Their characters are compelling!

Midnight Express

Midnight Express – (1978)  OK, one midnight movie brings to mind this somewhat newer one.  It’s an early Oliver Stone film depicting the grim fate of a young man caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey.  You’ve wondered what life would be like in a Turkish prison, haven’t you?  Not for the faint of heart, this one.

Night of the Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead – (1968) – This indy black and white thriller was panned for being too violent and gory.  Zombies weren’t as popular back then.  You’ve wondered what a meal of intestines would look like haven’t you?  (A shout out to Ann from “Cooking Dangerously” here.)  Don’t miss one of the best endings in movie history!  Made with a budget of just over $100,000, it grossed over thirty million.  I helped that along by seeing it four times.  (Hey, I wanted all of my girlfriends to see it!)  I haven’t seen the new remake, I’m sticking with the original.

Animal House

Animal House –  (1978)  I know, you’ve seen this one many times but we have to include it on any list of movies to watch.  John Belushi’s “College” sweatshirt is as famous as the film!

Cool Hand Luke

Cool Hand Luke – (1967)  Strother Martin’s famous line of “what we have here is a failure to communicate” puts Paul Newman in a world of hurt in this southern prison farm movie.  Life on a chain gang at its finest.

In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood – (1967)  Based on a true story, the movie starred Robert Blake back when he only pretended to kill people.  This Truman Capote film tells the story of two drifters who hold a rural family hostage after a botched robbery attempt and try to decide what to do with them.

So this is my short list.  It looks like the gory and action flicks may have outnumbered the love stories but I feel each of them is worthy of your time.  As the late Roger Ebert used to say, “See you at the movies”!

– Father-in-Law

Question of the Day:  What’s Your Favorite Movie?  Have you seen any of these movies?  Which of these movies are you most likely to watch?


22. March 2014 · 4 comments · Categories: Midwestern Life · Tags:

I updated my About page.  Finally.  Check it out here.


– Joanna

Question of the Day:  What color socks are you wearing?  I dunno.  I’m low on sleep, so that’s all I can come up with.

I’m working on a *gasp* food related post but it seems my time is at a premium these days.  So it’s not done.  To tide you over please enjoy some shoes.  This was taken at a playdate at a friend’s house.  Bonus points if you can guess which shoes are mine!

Shoes RW

– Joanna

P.S.  The Father-in-Law will be joining us soon with a fun post on must-see old movies.

Question of the Day: Which shoes are mine???

I’m not sure where you live, but over this way it has been a cold and snowy winter.  I love snow, but it’s been a bit much even for me these days.  The last week has warmed up, but prior to that It seemed as if we were getting a fresh four inches of snow at least once a week!  Did I mention the nice weather folk are expecting another round of snow today?  I don’t think it will amount to much nor stay very long, but still.

Instead of dwelling on the groundhog’s dismal prediction of six more weeks of winter (although the national weather service claims they have done extensive research and have found no consistency in the groundhog’s predictions – can we all say “duh” please) let’s just pretend for a moment it’s actually spring already.

And what does spring mean?  Birds!

Birds Nest RW

If you need more birds here’s a link to a series I did last year where I showed a robin’s nest on the front of our old house.  There are lots of pictures from egg to fledgling.  They are cute (okay, so the awkward teen years aren’t quite so cute) so if you missed it, go check it out.

You can also see real live birds all year long at any local bird store.  Like this frisky fellow.

Bird in Flight RW

And you can find stuffed birds all year long in your parks nature center.  I have a picture of them too, but I don’t want to get morbid on you all today.  We’re pretending real live birds after all.

How ’bout just some feathers instead.

Feathers RW

There you have it, people.  Birds.

– Joanna

Question of the Day:  What do you most associate with spring?

DSC_0530 RW Title

I don’t always have a back story for my recipes, but today I’ve got one.  Maybe not a crazy exciting one, but a back story nonetheless.

Once I hit the super pregnant stage I started having weekly appointments with my doctor.  Back in the day we all went as a family in the late afternoons, but I then switched to early mornings instead.  Morning appointments are always faster since there’s been less time for the office to get behind.  I’m in and out and the toddler gets some extra alone time with his dada.  Since I’m gone before Sweetey Petey wakes up, dada gets him dressed and fed and takes him to work till my appointment is over.

One of my last appointment before Charwee was born went faster than normal so I actually beat my boys to work.  Dada had already promised The Pete he could come into his office to color on his white board, but it was an extremely short visit.  When after a few minutes I tried to put The Pete in my car to go home, well . . . let’s just say he was less than pleased.  There’s no question about it, he’s a dada’s boy all the way.  I asked The Pete what would make him happy (other than dada of course because that was his first answer) and his response was “COOK!”

“Alright,” I said, “how about we make cookies?”

“Okay,” said The Pete.

“What kind would you like to cook?” I asked.

“Choc chip!!” The Pete said excitedly.  “Choc chip!!”

“Choc” chip cookies it was then.  Considering my toddler’s love for “choc” chips and his propensity for shoving things in his mouth, I immediately knew they had to be egg free.  As much as the toddler loves looking for eggs in the chicken coop and helping to stir the scrambled eggs in the mornings, I certainly didn’t want him nibbling the “choc” chips out of raw egg filled cookie dough.

Pete Cook 2 RW

I lean toward gluten-free desserts and normally I would attempt an almond flour cookie first, but I was out and my Honeyville order hadn’t arrived yet.  I had plenty of coconut flour but coconut flour needs eggs.  Gluten-filled cookies it would be then!

I did a quick Google search when we got back to the house and landed on this recipe.  I had most of the ingredients and knew I could modify it slightly enough to fit my taste preferences.  Also, I added rolled oats to help ease the guilt of making cookies in the first place.

And I gotta say, this recipe turned out awesome.  Seriously.  These cookies don’t need eggs and I don’t need to worry if my kid (or I) want to nibble on the dough.  Which we both did.  I will be adding these cookies to our family’s recipe binder and we will be making them again.  And you should too.

DSC_0525 RW

Egg-Free “Choc” Chip Cookies

slightly adapted from this recipe


1/2 cup butter, softened

1/3 cup white granulated sugar

1/2 cup white granulated sugar (No this is not a mistake.  The original recipe called for 1/2 cup of brown sugar which I thought I had but turned out I didn’t so I added molasses to compensate.  And I think the flavor turned out even better than had it been brown sugar.  So just go with me here, mmmmm K?)

1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses

1 1/2 cups cake flour (The original recipe called for all-purpose but I was out of that too.  So you could probably use all-purpose and be fine if that’s what’s in your pantry.)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon roasted cinnamon (Okay, okay, I know.  You probably only have regular cinnamon.  I get it, but I would HIGHLY suggest you splurge on the roasted cinnamon because it’s AMAZING and you will never go back to regular cinnamon again.  Ever.)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla (Make it the good stuff people, not the imitation junk.)

3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup “choc” chips (Feel free to add some extra here because little hands may pick a few out before you get the cookies baked.  And by may I mean will.)

1/3 to 1/2 cup rolled oats (Oats are good for you so thus these cookies are good for you.  Right?  Right.)

The Haps:

This is a kid friendly recipe so if you have children, let them help!  I let the toddler do most of the stirring, but did pull out the hand mixer and stepped in to get the dough ball rolling.

Pete Cook 1 RW

Cream butter, sugar and molasses.  Mix in flour, baking soda, roasted cinnamon and salt in three parts.  Mix in coconut oil and vanilla.  Once combined, stir in chocolate chips and rolled oats.  Eat some dough because you can.  It’s alright.  I give you permission.  In fact, I insist you do this.  Drop whatever is left by rounded tablespoons onto a Silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet.

Silpat RW

Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes.  Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for several minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Cookies RW

My best guess is that this recipe makes 2 dozen cookies.  That’s if you don’t eat any dough first.  Which we did.  So again, 2 dozen is my best guess.

DSC_0520 RW

If guilt isn’t something you struggle with and you are simply looking for a straight up “choc” chip cookie recipe to keep in your back pocket, just omit the rolled oats.

Also, please heed my previous warning on baked goods and the great outdoors.

DSC_0529 RW

Despite the fact I know it’s a delicate balancing act to photograph food outside, a thin tightrope to walk balancing a heavy camera and a heavy lens all the while keeping your eye on the cookie prize . . . I still managed to drop an entire plate of cookies in the snow.

DSC_0536 RW

I still managed to eat them too.  Fortunately this accident happened while I was still pregnant and still had my snow craving.  Now that Charwee has joined us, I’ve lost all appetite for the fluffy white flakes that fall from the sky.

DSC_0538 RW

I think both the cookies and I are ready to say farewell to winter for awhile.

– Joanna

P.S.  It’s nap time as I typed this post up and just as I finished I heard the toddler wake up and start chattering over the monitor.  What’s he saying you ask?  He’s saying “I cook!”  So maybe we’ll be making these cookies again sooner than I’d thought.

Question of the Day:  What’s your favorite thing to cook with kids?  If you don’t have kids, what’s your favorite thing to cook with your spouse or your friends?

The Husband politely informed me on Tuesday that when I tell you all we had a baby I’m supposed to show you a picture of the baby . . . not a selfie of me taken in the hospital bathroom mirror with a rather flat stomach.

Probably would have sold it more if I had also posted a giant belly before picture since I never really did that.

So I’m here to officially share our newest addition with you all . . . Charwee!  At least that’s what Sweetey Petey calls her because that is what he can pronounce.  And to my pal Cinnamon that thinks I am only going to show you all pictures of the back of baby girl’s head . . . I’m here to prove you wrong on that account.  See, Charwee’s hand.

Charwee RW

There you have her ladies and gentleman.  Baby Girl Charwee!!

Have a fabulous day and week and I’ll be back real soon with an egg-free chocolate chip cookie recipe to share.  If you are thinking I am Supermom for getting a decent blog post out so soon, think not.  I had the post mostly written and completely photographed before baby girl made her way into the world.  I’m awesome, but not that awesome.

– Joanna

Question of the Day:  What do you think of The Husband’s pajama pants there in the background.  I think they are stylin’ and he absolutely does not need a new wardrobe.

I looked a little different by the end of the weekend.

After after RW

Yup, we had a baby!

What did you do?

– Joanna