Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Traditions

*information for this post was in part supplied by Hormel Foods through their Hormel Extended Family Blogger program. No compensation was received for this post.
It is so hard for me to believe that it is already Easter. I have always associated Easter with the start of spring. The start of new life (and renewed life). The weather here is finally turning and I am hoping that the warmer weather is here to stay.

Holidays seem to be a time of tradition for me. When I was a kid, I can remember my grandparents taking us to an Easter egg hunt. Of course, coloring Easter eggs is a fun activity that is typically reserved to Easter. I can remember getting a new spring dress and shoes for Easter, and even on a few occasions a new hat too. Easter menus include ham and scalloped potatoes (although, I don't eat those, so I'm not sure why I would associate that) and of course, colored eggs. Easter morning always included the hunt for the Easter basket and the yummy chocolates and chocolate eggs.

We colored our Easter eggs just yesterday. The son has gotten 'too big' to color eggs, but my daughter still enjoys it. Of course, she wants to color a lot of eggs, but I am the only one that eats the hard boiled eggs, so we have to balance the desire to color with how many eggs I can eat! We enjoy using a white crayon to write a message that magically appears when the egg is colored.

The menu for Easter has evolved over the years. This year it is just the four of us at home. Of course, I can't go without ham, but since, as with eggs, I'm the only one in the house that generally eats it, I go with a small one. Fortunately for me, there is a quarter ham version of the Hormel Cure 81 Brown Sugar Boneless Ham. I place it in a covered dish with a bit of soda (instead of water) and warm it in a low oven while I prepare dinner for the family.

Here are a few tips for you that Hormel previously shared with me when it comes to ham:

Know your Numbers: When purchasing ham for a large crowd, such as Easter dinner, count the number of guests scheduled to attend. It's a good idea to get about a pound of ham for every 3-4 people. Don't forget to estimate a little extra for unexpected guests, and everyone's favorite - leftovers!"
As Simple as Heat & Serve: Hams are typically sold as a fully cooked product, so when preparing, all you need to do is heat it until the ham is hot throughout. A good gauge is when the ham reaches about 140-145 degrees. It's a simple protein solution when you are pressed for time.
A Ham for Every Occasion: In recent years, various cuts and flavors of ham have been introduced, making it a great option for entertaining or a weeknight family dinner. Hormel Cure 81 ham items are available pre-diced or pre-cubed for an easy addition to your morning omelet, or in ham steaks that are great to throw on the grill.

How do you celebrate Easter? Are there recipes that you make every spring?

Have leftovers from your Easter celebration? There are some great recipes that you can try on the Hormel Cure 81 page.

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are mine or those of my family. I am completing this post as a participant in the Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger program. Hormel Foods provided some product and some of the information for this post.

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! Hope you all have a nice day with family and friends.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Spring Break Staycation - Bowling and Arcade Fun for the Family #StarLanes #Polaris

When I was a kid, Spring Break was just a week off of school. There was one year that we headed on a family vacation to Arizona, but aside from that they were just a week at home. I'm not really sure that I remember that my friends went anywhere either. There wasn't a 'fancy' term for staying home that week, it was just what we did. Nowadays, of course, the practice of staying close to home and enjoying all that your broader community offers has a label - staycation.

Now that I am a mom, we tend to spend the week of spring break close to home. Making some short driving trips, but otherwise spending time with friends. We like to fill the week with activities like bike riding (although it seems to be very windy when we do), bowling, jumping (used to be at an inflatables place, but now we have trampoline places), heading to the playground, swimming at the Y (or a water park) and hanging out with friends. This year our spring break has included play dates with friends, movies, breakfast out, swimming at the Y, board games and sleepovers. Still to come is a chocolate factory tour, movie and lunch at a dine in theater, time with Grandma and Grandpa, a trip to the science center, a visit to the bookstore, bowling and probably more dining out.

Many businesses know that there are many families doing staycations and offer specials during the week. The week before spring break, our local Y sent out a special pool schedule for spring break. I have seen special offers from many other local businesses that know that parents will be looking for something to make the break fun.

If you are in the Columbus area, or close enough to drive, like we are, then you might want to check out the special offer at Star Lanes Polaris. Their special is designed to span several weeks of spring break, so you can take advantage now through April 10th.

Pins, Pop-a-Shot and Pizza

March 16 - April 10

For $15, children ages 12 and under, will receive a kid's meal menu item, game of bowling and shoes and $5 arcard game card.

Available weekdays from 11am to 3pm. Must be accompanied by an adult.

Why not gather together your group of moms (or dads) and plan a playdate at Star Lanes. You can all visit, while the kids play or join in the fun and challenge the kids to a game.

No compensation was received for this post. A promotional gift card was provided for a future visit. All opinions are my own or that of my family.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day

*information for this post was in part supplied by Hormel Foods through their Hormel Extended Family Blogger program. No compensation was received for this post.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

St. Patrick's Day has always been a 'fun' holiday. How can it not be? There are parades, rivers are turned green, there is food, there is beverage, there are Irish jigs.

When I was a child, I went to St. Patrick's Elementary School - I had a connection from a young age. I remember wearing green and people having buttons and shirts that said "Kiss Me I'm Irish".

There are some traditions that many consider to be part of St. Patrick's Day.

  • You always wear green on St. Patrick's Day.

  • You always have green beer on St. Patrick's Day.

  • There's always a parade on St. Patrick's Day.

  • You always have corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day.

I never was a fan of beer, let alone green beer, so that is one tradition that hasn't stayed with me (although I gave it the old college try, back in my college days).

I have limited green clothes in my closet, but I make an effort to wear green.

I don't live in a community with a parade and aside from getting stuck in some parade traffic in a nearby community last year, usually don't head out to see one.

I do usually make an effort to get some Corned Beef on St. Patrick's Day. I really enjoy Corned Beef Hash and Reubens or straight-up Corned Beef sandwiches. I prefer my Corned Beef Hashed crispy, like my bacon. I think it really pulls out the flavor.

Unfortunately, I'm the only one in my family that really enjoys Corned Beef, so I am generally on my own. I've never made homemade Corned Beef Hash, but have found that the HORMEL® MARY KITCHEN® Corned Beef Hash is a great way to enjoy it at home. You can enjoy it prepared as is, by simply frying it up in a skillet, or check out one of the recipes featured on their website - Sunshine Hash or Cheesy Corned Beef both sound good to me.

Do you have St. Patrick's Day traditions? Is there a family favorite Irish dish you enjoy on St. Patrick's Day?

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are mine or those of my family. I am completing this post as a participant in the Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger program. Hormel Foods provided some product and some of the information for this post.

Monday, March 16, 2015

How to Catch a Prince by Rachel Hauck

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
The other day, my husband asked "How can you enjoy a book when you only get to read it in 5 minute increments?". The answer is that when I enjoy a book I want to read it whenever I can, even if it is only 5 minutes at a time. This is exactly the way that I felt about How to Catch a Prince by Rachel Hauck.
In this third book in the Royal Wedding Series, we learn the story of Corina Del Ray and Prince Stephen of Brighton. You don't need to have read any of the earlier books to enjoy this story, although one book was about Prince Stephen's brother, King Nathaniel and his wife Susanna and the other story is mentioned a couple of times in the story.

Corina Del Ray lost her twin brother 5 1/2 years ago and has only recently started to really move beyond the grief. Prince Stephen is dealing with his own grief through denial and ignoring it by putting his whole self into rugby. As the story progresses, we get to see the power of faith in helping them each to heal and to move towards realizing their dreams.

I found that the author did a great job of developing the characters, allowing the reader to develop perspective and then reframe that perspective with the additional detail that is revealed over the course of the story. I felt that this helped me feel a connection with the characters and wanting the best for them.

The love story was part fairytale and part modern. I liked the mystery surrounding the Manor and Adelaide and Brill and their role in the story.

I would recommend this book to others and look forward to reading other books by Rachel Hauck in the future.

About the book:

How to Catch a Prince (Zondervan, February 2015)

She caught her prince once. Can she catch him again?

American heiress Corina Del Rey's life was devastated by war. Every thing she loved was lost. But after five years of grief, she's shed her grave clothes and started over in the sunshine along the Florida coast.

But some things are not so easily forgotten. When a secret from her past confronts her face to face, she realizes she must follow her heart. Even if it cost her everything.

Prince Stephen of Brighton Kingdom is a former Royal Air Command lieutenant turned star rugby player, trying to make sense of his life after the devastation of war.
When his brother, King Nathaniel, discovers Stephen's pre war secret, he must deal with an aspect of his life he longed to forget. But how can he do so without exposing the truth and breaching national security?

Yet, true love has a destiny all it's own. As the cathedral bells peal through Cathedral City, Corina and Stephen must chose to answer the call of love on their hearts.
Or let it be lost forever?

Purchase a copy here.

About the author:

Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as The Wedding Dress, Love Starts with Elle, and Once Upon A Prince. She also penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Booklist named their novel, Softly and Tenderly, one of 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets.

Find Rachel online: website, Facebook, Twitter

Find additional information and other reviews on the Blog Tour Landing Page.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Menu Plan Monday

I'm not sure how things are in your part of the country, but around here, it has been a cold, snowy winter. I enjoy winter, but I think I am about done with it at this point. The kids have enjoyed their snow and cold days away from school, but as with most children, they have reached the point where being cooped up in the house is too much. I was so thankful for a day with reasonable temperatures on Sunday, so that my daughter could go out and play in the snow. She was able to stay out too long, but at least she got outside and got fresh air, sunshine and a chance to run around. A nice welcome break from movie, tv and game marathons over the past few weeks.

Spring isn't yet here, but with the different sports practices, sports banquets, and meetings that we have this week, the schedule feels more typical of a spring/summer week than a winter one. I have decided to try out a few new recipes this week on the nights that there is time to make dinner before or after events and stick with tried and true on nights where dinner has to be quick to table.

lunch out

Swim Banquet

Qrunch Burgers and Chicken Patty Sandwiches

Lime Cilantro Chicken

Ranch Cheddar Chicken

Brazilian Shrimp Stew


For the kids, breakfast will be cereal, oatmeal or toast most mornings and lunch will be a mix of the hot plate lunch at school or a packed lunch from home. My husband and I will stick with our standard routines.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.