Happy Halloween!

(These pictures are too cute not to share full size!)



My love for cooking didn't start until Tj and I got married and we moved into our new house. I remember attempting Lasagna one other time but I boiled the noodles in advance and layed them on wax paper to cool. I remember that it took forever and was a big sticky mess. Then I started working at Twin Valley and met Jennifer. She would make Lasagna during the week and I kept wondering who in the world had that kind of time! Tricky, tricky! She didn't boil her noodles in advance - she just made sure there was enough liquid in the pan for the noodles to absorb when it bakes! I made Lasagna several times after she told me that trick but it was only recently that it was good enough to write down and actually replicate. I think this is a version of her recipe (the Spaghetti Sauce Mix is definitely hers) with a few things of my own added in. Delish! And more importantly, EASY!

Cast of Characters:
1 lb Hamburger
1 lb Sausage
Onion, diced
3-4 cloves fresh garlic or 1 Tbps from the jar
2 Cans Tomato Sauce
2 Cans Diced Tomatoes
1 Package Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning
1 large container Cottage Cheese
3 cups Mozzarella Cheese, Divided
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
3 Eggs
Tomato Juice
Lasagna Noodles
In a large skillet, cook hamburger, sausage, and onion. Drain and rinse. Add mixture back to skillet and throw in the garlic. Cook 2-3 minutes and then add Tomatoes, Sauce, and Spaghetti Sauce Mix. Simmer over low heat 20 - 30 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, mix together Cottage Cheese, 2 cups of Mozzarella, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and 3 eggs. I threw in some Parsley for a little color but I've never thought Parsley really added any flavor to anything.
 After the sauce is finished and the cheese mixture is made, pour enough Tomato Juice in the bottom of the pan to coat the bottom and place Lasagna Noodles on top.
 Add a layer of Tomato Sauce and then a layer of the cheese mixture.
 Add another layer of noodles.
Repeat with remaining sauce (leaving just enough left to cover the top), all of the remaining cheese mixture, and then one last layer of noodles.
Pour the remaining Tomato Sauce on top of noodles. Before you put on the cheese, pour the rest of the can of Tomato Juice (or just some more if you are using a big jug) into the pan, making sure you pour it down all 4 edges of the pan and filling any extra space with juice. You will need a lot of liquid in the pan since you are not cooking the noodles beforehand. Top lasagna with remainging cheese. *Bake at 350 degrees for an hour to an hour and a half.

*I really have no idea how long you cook it. I made this today but am not planning on cooking it until later in the week. Those were just my notes from last time. I assume that is close.


Black and White Day

Tylee's preschool has been learning a color a week since the beginning of school. If I had to guess, I would assume that most preschoolers already know their colors but her teacher has been teaching at this same school for 26 years and I assume knows more about it than I do. Anyways, this week was Black and White week so guess who got to go?  
Since I was taking the morning off to take Merle, I decided to stay for the day and see what pre-school was all about. The teachers encourage parents to visit but want you to wait a few weeks so that your child has time to get acclamated. I"m not sure I waited long enough.
It was neat to see how the classroom was ran, see the schedule, activities, and meet some of the other kids - especially since Tylee hasn't told me a single kids name. But I have to say I was a tad disapointed. I know that me being there probably messed with her routine a little but she was definitely not engaged socially at all. I mean, literally not at all.
I asked the teachers if she was normally this much of a loner and they said not usually but that sometimes she has bad days. I wish they would've elaborated but I guess we'll have conferences soon enough. (I hope anyways...?)
I stood in the corner during snack time and it seemed as though Tylee forgot I was there. I assumed this was close to her "normal" and I was definitely a little taken back. They passed out the cookies and candy to decorate them with. Tylee sat quietly and ate all her candy...then didn't have anything to decorate her pumpkin with. Before witnessing this first hand, if you would've asked me what Tylee would've done with a blank pumpkin and a candy face - I would have guessed that she would have made a face, named it, then role-played with the pumpkin and the little girl sitting next to her. Not even close.
I pray that today was just a bad day but the fact is more times than not - she tells me preschool wasn't fun. Now I know why. To say I'm suprised is an understatement and I would guess that anyone who knows Tylee would be a little suprised as well. I'm going to try not to stress about it and just hope it was a combination of her being one of the youngest in the class, that fact that she didn't go to daycare, and maybe throw in a little bit of "bad day" as well.
Also on the agenda for Thursday after class was the schools Fall Program. I had invited Nanny and Poppy down since they are the only ones that wouldn't have to use vacation to come watch a 15 minute program but warned Nanny that I had no idea what the program was or how Tylee would act. Well, unfortunately Nanny and Poppy got the flu but thankfully they didn't waste their fuel and time to come to Parsons. Tylee just stood there blank the entire time and looked at the crowd. She didn't say a single word, do a single action, or know a single song. She wasn't necessarily bashful - it was more like, "This is ridiculous. Why are we doing this again?" See video below.  
So, I guess the positives in this are that we started her in preschool early and she has plenty of time to adapt. I wouldn't have initally sent her at 3-years old but knew it was a good idea since she hasn't ever done daycare or been around other kids. I thought being around Lindsey's kids was doing the trick but apparently its not even coming close.

Fall Program


Pumpkin Patch

It's that time of year again. It seems like I can't make it through fall without taking Tylee to the Pumpkin Patch. She is going to be really, really mad at me when she is 15 years old and I'm still dragging her there. Heck, 3 years old was almost too old yet I still have plans to go back next year. It's one of my favorite things to do. Lindsey is apparently better than me at gaging age-appropriateness, as she was only planning on taking Brynna this year. However, Tylee begged for one of the big girls to go so Braylee got to tag along too.
I was suprised Tylee actually rode this train considering she was scared to death of the exact same thing at Artist Alley a few weeks ago. I am sure it had something to do with Braylee riding it with her. Either way, her and Racoony really enjoyed it. Thank goodness she didn't drop him in the field. (That thought didn't cross my mind until it was too late.)

The highlight of the trip and the sole reason I love this Pumkin Patch is because of the corn trough. It is definitely the kids favorite part and I usually like it for photo-ops...but we were there in 100% full sun and that is a very hard time of day to get good photos.
Tylee also really enjoyed "milking" the cow. She was soaking wet by the time we left.
Overall, it was a great day but I'm afraid Tylee is quickly outgrowing these activities. I think next year we may hit up a different pumpkin patch with a few more activities for older kids. Hopefully by then we won't still have a scaredy cat on our hands. I'm doubtful.



Can anyone edit-out chapped lips?


Lincoln, NE

Tj and I headed North last weekend to my favorite place EVER. If Tj said we could move there I would start packing in the morning. I would probably be disapointed once we arrived and it was no longer game day but there is no place I would rather be on a Saturday morning than in Lincoln Nebraska.
My boss gave us his tickets this year and they are much, much better than the nosebleed section we usually sit in. We were on row 17 but were right over the tunnel so there wasn't 17 rows of people in front of us. Maybe 10?
I loved these balloons. I kept my eye on them most of pre-game and at some point I looked up and they were gone! The tradition is to let your balloons go when Nebraska scores their 1st points but this either got too heavy and dropped or someone accidently let go.
(That is the coach in grey)
I guess during kickoff people take off their shoes. I've never seen them do that before but after I saw this guy I looked around and saw several others...who knows. But it's a neat picture!!
The game started off pretty rocky but ended GREAT. It was by far my favorite game that we've been too. (You can read about the others here, here, here, and here.)
Nebraska 34 - Ohio State 27
Sunday morning we took a different route out of Lincoln and I was in awe most of the drive. It didn't occur to me to grab my camera until we were already past the prettiest part. Yet another awesome neighborhood to dream about.
Merle enjoyed the trip too. Can you tell?



Tylee did NOT love this.


Tulsa State Fair 2011

We has so much fun last year at the fair that there was never a question whether or not to go again this year. So we loaded up Tylee and Merle and hit the road!   
We could have (and possibly should have) hit up some Fast Food on the way into town but what fun is the fair without food?! Its my favorite part - even if it costs an arm and a leg.
After lunch we hit up the petting zoo. The pony rides were a big hit last year so I was excited for Tylee to get to ride them again. Uhhhhh, no such luck. We have a super scared 3-year old and she didn't want anything to do with those horses.
She finally got brave enough to feed the goats!
After the petting zoo, we wandered around and enjoyed the beautiful day. When we first got to the clown Tylee wanted a dinosaur but I guess she caved under pressure and ended up with a pink kitty....that popped before I got a picture. 
I was nervous about the carnival since she was afraid of everything at Artist Alley but she we did actually get her on a few rides. Last year when she was naive enough to ride them - she wasn't big enough. This year when she was actually tall enough, she was scared. That's life, huh? The games were a huge hit. It made the whole day worth it.

And finally, on the way out we gave her one last chance to ride the horses....