Monday, March 24, 2014

harvesting honey

my father-in-law keeps bees.  it has been a hobby of his for almost a handful of years.  i believe he started when emilia was two.

bees produce honey.  my father-in-law harvests that honey.

over the weekend, my in laws watched the kids while we out for our bowling league.  a week earlier, after we asked for them to watch the kids, my father-in-law asked if ben would be interested in helping him harvest the honey.

one thing to know about ben is that he is a worker bee.  give him a job or a chore with a little direction of what needs to be done and he's off.  he loves to help and be apart of any job.

ben jumped on the chance to help with the honey.

late saturday afternoon, we dropped the kids off.  no time was wasted; ben and his grandpa jumped right in.  the frames were previously removed from the hive so there were no angry bees.  no hi-tech tools are necessary and the two set off with a scraper and removed the honey & the wax from the frames.

i have never seen anything like it; watching them scrap the honey was awesome.  we even snuck a taste of the honey.  DELICIOUS.  smooth & sweet.

the boys did not finish all their frames.  ben will likely go back next weekend to help scrape some more frames.

now that the honey has been scraped off the frame it will need to be extracted which my father-in-law will do.  once it's been extracted he will bottle it and we will all enjoy the delicious, fresh and local honey!

when we picked the kids up, there were 3 contains of {raw} honeycomb waiting for us.  i am looking forward to having some with a granny smith apple or have a wine & cheese night and serve the honeycomb with some great cheeses.


this will without a doubt be a memory forever burned into ben's brain.  not many people are able to say that at some point in their life they've harvested honey.  ben can and that is amazing.

Friday, March 21, 2014

enchanted chorus: salt

ben // salt shaker - beauty & the beast, jr. // march 15, 2014

one of the roles ben had in the play was a salt shaker which was apart of the enchanted chorus.  the salt (& his parter, pepper) came out during be our guest along with all the dishes and other enchanted items in the beast's castle.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

ben: our thespian

just after the new year, ben started rehearsals for the latest play production through our park district.  beauty and the the beast jr.  ben had four roles - villager, enchanted chorus, wolf, and monsieur d'arque.

ben has worked hard both at bi-weekly rehearsals and at home.  he practiced and practiced and practiced.  he has enjoyed his time with this production.  due to pre-scheduled school activities, all of the kids who attend his school were also in his cast.  because of the demand, this production was divided into two {50 kid} casts.

last friday was opening weekend.  friends and family came out both friday and saturday night to see ben in his performance.

his performance and the entire production was fantastic.  ben had quite a few speaking lines and while i missed them friday (parents are required to volunteer during a performance), i was able to see the play in it's entirety on saturday.  i was so proud of him.  still am.


each night following the play we had little celebrations.  following friday's performance, we headed to a local restaurant and had some of his favorites.  after saturday's play, we went with friends and fellow cast members to oberweis.  sunday we celebrated with family for a st. patty's day dinner and portillo's chocolate cake (this one was a tough decision for ben!  at one point i think he thought of every dessert under the sun!).

this weekend the other cast has their performance and then both casts will have their cast parties.  another celebration for a job well done.  these kids deserve every ounce of it!

auditions for the summer production are in may, i believe.  ben has expressed that he would like to be apart of this production as well.  the summer play will be into the woods jr.  emilia is eligible to be apart of this production to but because it's not a full princess production she has decided to pass and waiting to see what winter 2015 holds.  

congrats to our budding thespian.  you had a great weekend performing and we couldn't be more proud of you!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

sautéed spinach


i enjoy cooking.  i do it almost every night for my family.  i do not create recipes on my own.  i wish i had that ability to mix & create flavors but i certainly don't.

over the years, i have found many wonderful recipes via cookbooks, magazines, family & friends, tv shows, blogs and pinterest (more blogs & websites).  

dan and i enjoy spinach.  if we make a salad it will more than likely be a spinach salad.  recently we've made the switch from spinach salads to sautéed spinach.  for whatever reason, i've always been intimidated to make it.  i turned to the one and only martha stewart for a sautéed spinach recipe.  i figured if anyone had a good recipe it was her.  as usual, she came through.  

this is quite possibly the easiest recipe ever.  i can't believe i've never attempted to make it before.  it is also so delicious.  we've been making it almost nightly.  it's so good that even ben is enjoying.  emilia steers clear of veggies.  it's letter "v" week at school and when she was asked by her teachers to paste the veggies she likes is the "good" column, she laughed and didn't have any.  oh my girl...

here's the recipe:

sautéed spinach with garlic and lemon from martha stewart (adapted to my family's liking/tastes)

2T olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled & smashed
3-4 bunches (2 1/2 pounds) spinach
1-2 T lemon juice - i only do a splash.  ben likes a little more, he likes the pungent taste of lemon juice
salt & pepper

heat olive oil in skillet.  add garlic - stir & cook until fragrant & starting to brown.  remove garlic.  add spinach, gradually.  toss until tender - approx 3-4 minutes.  add splash of lemon juice and sprinkle with salt & pepper.


thanks martha!  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

connected together


we're big sleepers in this house.  ben and emilia are at that grown-up point that we all sleep in on the weekends.  by sleep in, i mean we sleep later than 7:30...sometimes until 9:00 am.  it's glorious.  so glorious.

sometimes we let the kids start out their night in our bed.  they each usually bring a pillow, a guy (what we call stuffed animals), and sometimes another small item (blanket) or guy.  the agreement is that they are moved back to their beds when we go to bed.  

sure it seems like a lot of hassle that once we head up, the kids have to still be moved, but honestly, it's so easy.  we move their items back and then grab a kid.  ben wakes up a little bit as he has to climb the stairs into his bunk.  emilia doesn't even flinch.  she's a heavy sleeper.  the whole process takes less than 2 minutes.  

the two shots above were taken the other night when it was time to move the kids back to their room.  i love seeing them together.  they each start on their respective side(s); however, by the time we get to them they are in the middle of the bed.  i've seen emilia with her arm around ben and i've seen him holding her hand.  this night she was holding his hand.  

no matter how many times ben gets annoyed by her or emilia gets mad at him for not listening - they always come back together.  as much as they each want our undivided attention - they always come back together.  couple their hand holding with them saying good night and i love you each and every night and quite frankly i'm dead.  

somehow they're connected - literally and figuratively.  always connected.

Friday, March 7, 2014


emilia // march 7, 2014

a beautiful, sunny morning with temps in the 30's means it's time to socialize in the drop off line at school.

we are so ready for spring.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

january 2014: disney vacation recap - day 2

the second day of our disney world vacation was gray, rainy, and cold.

we're not the type to sit in our rooms during a rainy day...we make the most of it.

after a quick breakfast in our room we headed out to the magic kingdom.

because of the weather the park was not very crowded.  always a plus when wanting to get on favorite rides!  and since it was less crowded we were able to get a family picture.

of course, on our way down main street, we had to stop at the most magical starbucks in all the land.  i love that two of my favorite things are together - disney & starbucks.  

silly kids // magic kingdom // january 29, 2014

our fast passes weren't scheduled unit the afternoon so we had the morning to stroll and take our time on rides.  we also received an e-mail a day earlier to receive an additional fast pass towards a quick service lunch at be our guest.  we've never had lunch at the beast's castle so we were happy to use the pass.

after a good lunch at be our guest we headed over to enchanted tales with belle.  this was an attraction i was looking forward to visiting with the kids, especially ben.  the play ben is currently participating in is beauty and the beast this was perfect for him to visit.  it's an interactive attraction and we all were able to be apart of the story - ben was the beast, emilia (with my help) was mrs. potts and dan was a knight.  it was fun.  at the end ben had a chance to dance with belle in front of the audience and then all the participants were able to take a picture with belle.  unfortunately, i do not have a picture of ben with belle though i do believe there is one the disney photographer took...must look into ordering.

ben playing the role of the beast // enchanted tales with belle // magic kingdom // january 29, 2014

emilia after her role of mrs. potts // enchanted tales with belle // magic kingdom // january 29, 2014

we spent the rest of our afternoon walking around the magic kingdom, visiting our favorite characters and princesses, and enjoying our favorite attractions.  

ben in front of gaston's tavern // magic kingdom // january 29, 2014

snow white // magic kingdom // january 29, 2014

eventually the cold and rain had gotten to us all and at some point emilia stepped in a puddle and she checked out.  by the time we left in the late afternoon it was pouring and due to maintenance the monorail was down.  we had dinner reservations just next door at the contemporary for chef mickey's; however, neither kid wanted to walk so we waited for a bus.  we waited forever.  not like 20 minutes but somewhere close to an hour.  i wish i was joking.  at one point i was holding emilia and i think she may have fallen asleep.  lucky girl.  ben did great despite waiting in the cold.  

we eventually got on a bus and enjoyed a delicious, warm dinner with our favorite characters at chef mickey's.  all of our moods changed immediately after we got some food in us.  we lingered at dinner a little longer than normal but i think there were many reasons - we were hungry, emiila's shoes needed to dry out (hand dryers would have bee nice but were unavailable), and it's one of our favorite places in all of disney.  chef mickey's is always a 'must-do' for us.  i'm fairly certain ben and emilia went up to the buffet line 3 or more times.  

our night ended quietly.  emilia, my mom and i browsed the shops at the contemporary resort while ben and dan took a ride over to grand floridian to walk around.  

the day may have been cold & rainy but the fun we had as family trumped any grayness to our day although we did go to bed that night hoping for warmer weather.