Saturday, August 29, 2009

TWBA: My favorite dessert


Okay so have LOTS of favorites, but this is the one that I want RIGHT NOW. :) And I thought I'd share the yumminess with my friends at My Great Retreat with this week's blog assignment.

NGREDIENTS (Nutrition)

* 2 individual packages graham crackers
* 2 (3 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
* 3 cups milk
* 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
* 1 (16 ounce) package prepared chocolate frosting

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DIRECTIONS

1. Line the bottom of a 9x13-inch pan with graham crackers. In a large bowl, combine pudding mix and milk. Stir well. Stir in whipped topping to pudding mixture. Spread half of mixture over graham cracker layer. Top with another layer of graham crackers and the remaining pudding. Top all with a final layer of graham crackers and frost with chocolate frosting. Refrigerate until serving.

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FOBTY: Exercise plans?

Our assignment at Sweet Shoppe Designs is to blog about our exercise routine... or our plans of one. This school year, we opted to get a membership at our local college rec center. Since I'm a school employee, I get a discounted rate for my family. And this time I'm really going to go! I'll probably just start out by walking the track for a couple of miles. But we also have access to the basketball & raquetball courts, the pool, exercise equipment, and weight rooms. So, we'll see how I progress from the track! Ha!

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

FOBTY: My Favorite Summer Photo


Today's assignment at Sweet Shoppe Designs is to post one of our favorite photos from summer. My favorite photo from the summer happened to be taken on our very last day of summer. We planned a family day and went to see G-Force at the theater. Then, on the way home, Joel had to stop at IUSB and meet with one of his professors. Luke and I hung out in the lawn & at the fountain while Joel had his meeting.

My favorite photo from that day was a totally random, spontaneous close-up of Luke taken on my point & shoot camera. I love it because you can see the few freckles he's got, which I LOVE!! Plus, the expression he has in the photo is just... him.

Here's to a great summer!

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

FOBTY: Favorite Songs on my MP3 Player

I am horrible at remember names of songs. So I'm going to ask my husband what a few of his favorites are at the moment...

President of What by Deathcab for Cutie
Black Like Me by Spoon
All You Can Eat by Ben Folds

So there ya go. Ha ha!

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Where have I been?

I'm sure you all are wondering where I've been... ha ha!! Or not.

This is my first week back to school. Yesterday & today were teacher days and the kids are coming tomorrow!! So I've been a tad bit preoccupied with my time. I hope to get back to blogging within the next few weeks!

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Make a List Monday

Things to do before Wednesday:
*Find a baby sitter for Luke for Wed. & Thurs.
*Print off labels for school.
*Name tags
*Lunch sticks
*Pair up kids for math & spelling buddies
*Helper tags
*Reading Groups
*Plan book
*Folder tags
*Label math, writing, phonics, vocab, WERP books
*Have one last family day of the summer.
*Laundry
*Pick up the house

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Scrappin' Sunday

It's after midnight, so it's officially Sunday. :) I didn't do a whole lot because of vacation, but it's something!


Me Plus You using Viva La Diva by Eva Kipler


My Monkey using I'll Try Anything Once by Heather Roselli


Trophy Time using Little Slugger by Julie Billingsly


Oh I Wish... using Porkchops & Applesauce by Libby Weifenbach

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Griswold, er, Kratzer Family Vacation Run Down

So our vacation time was super limited for time this year. With Joel's new job, the only time off he had was the first week in August. And between my trainings and Joel's classes, we didn't have many days to actually spend vacationing. So we opted for Chicago this year. It's close, so we didn't have to spend our limited days driving.

Ah Chicago. Joel booked the hotel this time. We have used Hotwire a few times now- twice for Joel, three times for me. My hotels have been rockin'. Joel has the Holiday Inn curse. Both times he's booked, he got a Holiday Inn. Both Holiday Inns have been less than ideal. This was one of those times.

Let me back up a little, though, to the beginning of the trip. We stopped in downtown Chicago first thing to pick up our Explorer Passes. These are pretty cool things... you can choose three attractions for a lower price than if you pay for each separately. Anyway, the only place you can buy them is Shedd Aquarium. We just went to Shedd not that long ago, so it wasn't going to be one of our destinations. But we still had to pay $25 for parking. Yuck. Luke & I waited on the steps for Joel as he bought our passes... only about a 30 minute wait. And I got some cute pics of the kid. We found a nice little park tucked away between Shedd Aquarium and Soldier Field, too, so we stopped there to let Luke play a bit before we got back in the car.




Did I mention we started the day out really grouchy? All three of us. Not sure what was in the air.

After we got our passes, we drove to Lincoln Park Zoo. Cool thing: It has free admission. Not so cool thing: Parking is $17. It was an okay zoo. Very crowded. Most of the animals were sleeping. And it was hot. We were in and out in less than two hours.



So far, we are all thinking we should have just stayed home. But it gets better.

After the zoo, we found ourselves a Target (bliss!) to grab some snacks and some goggles for Joel. Then headed to the hotel. The lovely Holiday Inn in Skokie. If you click on the link, it looks nice, doesn't it? Not so, not so. What you can't see is this hotel is a renovated motel. Picture the old fashioned motels with walk-out balconies, but with a roof over the top & a pool slapped in the middle of it all. Anyway... we got in the first room, Room 109, it's pretty gross- stains on the walls and the bedding, but we are ready to relax and recooperate from the craziness of the first day of vacation. I get my shirts out and hang them up to unwrinkle themselves, Luke empties his backpack of things to do... you get the idea. We all take our turns using the bathroom... when Joel goes in for his turn, he sees there is water all. over. the. floor. He calls front desk; they send Oscar, the maintenance guy over. He arrives about 30 minutes after the call. Comes in, takes a look, asks if it was from the tub/shower... nope, haven't used those yet. He was going to take the ENTIRE TOILET OUT AND WORK ON IT while we sat in our room!!! Joel asked for a new room. Oscar gets it arranged. We pack up our stuff and move to Room 100, our second hotel room in two hours. This room is a little better as far as cleanliness goes... but not much. We get everything unpacked. Joel & Luke put on their swim trunks and get ready to swim. Joel says, "I don't think the a/c is working." So he checks the thermostat- it's at 72*. He checks it about 20 minutes after having the a/c going full force... 76*. Problem. So he calls front desk, again. Oscar comes, again, after about 30 minutes. Keep in mind it's about 9:00 by this time. Oscar works on this unit, off and on, for TWO SOLID HOURS. Our ice bucket was getting condensation on it because it was so hot. Finally, Joel asked if we could have another room- we've been traveling all day, we have a little kid who needs sleep, we have a busy day tomorrow. So, off goes Oscar, and this time he checks everything in the room before we move. Joel & I work on packing things up... AGAIN. This time we go to Room 130. It's 95% cleaner than the other two. It's cool (the A/C works!) We unpack for the last time and get to sleep. The first night in that room was just peachy. Plus, they gave us 6000 priority points (even though we're not a priority point club member) and $50 in food credit at their restaurant. Wahoo.



We wake up the next day and head back into the city. Find a parking garage: $34/day. Ouch. We first visited Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower. Things have changed quite a bit since Joel & I were kids. We stood in line for about 20 minutes to get on the elevator to go down. Then, we stood in another line for another hour to get through the security check. Then, we stood in another line to watch a 'short film' for another hour. Then, after the movie, we stood in line for another hour to get on another elevator to go up to the 103rd floor. We spent about a half an hour on the 103rd floor. Luke LOVED it- we started out looking over towards Shedd Aquarium & Adler Planetarium. Then, we moved to the lake side. Then, the view with the Hancock building. Then, we got to the fourth side. The side with the three glass balconies. Luke could. not. wait. to go on the balconies. He would have spent hours just laying there, looking at the busy little ants scurrying around on the ground 103 stories below. Unfortunately, there were 300+ others that wanted to get on the balcony eventually, too. He went on it two different times before we got in another line of about 30 minutes to get on the elevator to go down. We were STARVED by the time we got down to ground level again. The plan was to eat at Rainforest Cafe, but we didn't know where we were going and didn't want to wait that long to eat.




So we hopped a water taxi to Navy Pier. The water taxi was such a nice retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Very relaxing. Once we got to Navy Pier, it was about 4:00... we didn't want to eat lunch b/c it was so close to dinner. And we didn't want to eat dinner quite yet because we'd get hungry later on. So we opted for an ice cream cone from McDonald's The Future. We still haven't figured out why it was the future, though? After enjoying our ice cream, we went to the Chicago Children's Museum. What a COOL place!!! Luke had a lot of fun climbing, creating & learning. After we visited CCM, we decided to go to the food court to eat dinner- forget Rainforest Cafe! Joel & I enjoyed a chicken quesadilla from The Twisted Lizard and Luke devoured a hot dog from America's Dog. Then we made the smartest decision of the trip. We hailed a taxi. Seven dollars later, we were at our parking garage. It was wonderful!






We arrived back at our hotel and we all went swimming this time. The boys spent much longer in the pool than I did, so I read poolside while they had their fun. We went to bed in our nice, cool room.

Around 2:00 a.m. this horrific screeching sound started in our room. Then it left. Then it came back again. It was our air conditioning unit. It was on its way to A/C Heaven. And it sounded like it was not a nice, peaceful death. It was HORRIBLE. So our option was to deal with the ear-piercing screeching, move rooms AGAIN, or be hot and sweaty. We took the hot option, but not after calling Hotwire to see if we could be refunded for our last night there (the following night). She flagged our account and told us to call in the morning. Oh believe us, we will. In the meantime, we were on priceline, finding a new hotel. I was so exhausted, I slept hard until morning. Joel, not so much.



As soon as we were all awake and ready to go, we were out of there! We headed up to Schaumburg to go to IKEA & Legoland Discovery Center: Chicago. And we ate at Rainforest Cafe. Luke was so excited for this day (minus IKEA)! The first part of the Lego Tour was a Jungle adventure and the guide told them at the end was an idol and a giant spider. Well, that ruined it for Luke. He wasn't even going to go through it! He wanted to turn around and go back b/c it was too scary! Once we coersed him through that, it was a dragon ride... again scary for him. Finally we got to the part where he can just build with the Legos. He ended up having a blast, thank goodness!! Rainforest Cafe wasn't so much fun, either. Joel was irritated because it's so expensive, so he spent the meal on his phone, eating a teeny bowl of chowder to prove his point. Luke didn't want to eat because he had to cover his ears and hide his eyes from the gorillas who were just above us. *sigh* And here I thought it'd be fun for him. Joel had booked a Comfort Inn & Suites for us to stay in that night. But when we were done in Schaumburg, it was 5:30 p.m. so we opted to just drive home and save ourselves some money. Once we were through the two and a half hour traffic jam between Schaumburg & the city, we were home free. And we couldn't wait to sleep in our own air conditioned (a quiet one at that!) home.







So long, Chicago.

Friday, August 7, 2009

FOBTY: Someplace I've Been This Month


This week for Sweet Shoppe Designs' FOBTY, our assignment is to post a picture of someplace we've been this month. We just returned from our little Chicago getaway and one of the highlights was standing on the glass balcony at Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower). I haven't gotten my pictures off of my camera yet, but here is a pic I pulled off of the internet. I wasn't planning on going on myself-- it was soooo freaky! But you can't stand in line for three hours and NOT go on it!


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Favorites Friday: Hacienda


Ahhhhh, Hacienda. Just saying the word makes my mouth water for their warm, salty, fresh tortilla chips dipped in salsa and ranch dip. Or sometimes I'll sneak a dip into Joel's white cheese dip when he's not looking.

If it was up to me, we would eat at Hacienda every time we go out for a meal. I have my usual entree- the chicken & cheese burrito combo with white chili. And they put a dallop of sour cream on the chili, so I don't have to get sour cream for my burrito... I just scoop it out of my chili! (I am so smart, aren't I?) Sometimes I'll jump out of the box and order their grilled chicken burritos (in the picture, on the left) or the chicken grande quesadilla. Mmmmm... When I can convince Joel to go with me, he usually gets the Torte Cubano, which is pretty tasty, too. The bread is pretty spicy, which I've never had spicy bread before.

If you have any room at the end of the meal, which normally is impossible, especially if you keep getting your unlimited refills on your chips & salsa. But if you do have room, you MUST get dessert. And that dessert MUST be a Chocolate Mudslide. Oh my word. It's to die for. Hot skillet. Chocolate chip cookie dough. Ice cream on top. Chocolate syrup on that. Melts all over the skillet so you have to eat it as fast as you possibly can. And it's definitely something to share... have them bring a spoon for everyone.

Great. Now I'm hungry for a mudslide. I could just skip the meal and go straight for the dessert. YUM.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Happy Birthday, Wubby Dub!



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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Want It Wednesday: Another Vintage Pearl Necklace


If only I were rich...

Apparently Erin thinks I have the world's best willpower. Because she keeps adding more & more to her store that I just have to have. And for now, each item just has to go on my wish list. This week Erin, from The Vintage Pearl, has brought back a few former designs including this ADORABLE You Are My Sunshine necklace. Now, she has a lot of necklaces that I adore. But most of them wouldn't work for me, only having one child. I, personally, think it would look silly to have just "Luke" on a necklace. And if I put "Luke & Joel" it looks like I have two kids instead of one husband and a kid. So I just dream about having a personalized necklace with my kid's name on it. Until now. Having just "Luke" on the You Are My Sunshine necklace would so absolutely work. As soon as I have paypal saved up, it's mine. ALL MINE. :)

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Talented Tuesday: Eva's Divas






This month I have the honor of being a guest designer on Eva Kipler's creative team! Eva is an amazing designer and her digital scrapbooking kits are always gorgeous! You can get Eva lovely kits at Sweet Shoppe Designs. Here are a few layouts I've done using her kits Boston Bistro, Bring Back the 70s, Next Tuesday, & Tree Hugger.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Make a List Monday: Crazy Day!

Today is nuts. I need to list everything here just so I know what I'm doing!

AM
7-10 Laundry, make piles for trip, make a list of toiletries to grab, clean up house, get snacks & breakfast around for vacation
10-1015 Travel time
1015- 1045 Luke's kindergarten testing
1045- 1215 Library End of Summer Celebration

PM
1215- 1230 Travel time/eat lunch in car
1230- 330 New gradebook training
330- 530 Pack car, eat dinner (Chinese)
530- 730 Visit with aunt & cousins from Iowa
730- 930 Final prep for vacation
930- 630 SLEEP!

Chicago here we come!

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Scrappin' Sunday






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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Speechless Saturday: My Week in Pictures








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Kristin
I'm Kristin. Married since 2002 to a super cool guy named Joel. We have a super amazing boy named Luke and a super cuddly pup named McCarthy. I'm not a very consistent blogger (at all) but I do go in spurts. I like to keep people on their edge of their seats. Ha!
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