Butternut squash

January 15, 2010 at 9:20 am (Finer Things Friday, recipes)

This past fall I was introduced to Butternut Squash.

You know, the usual.  “Hi I’m Mandi”.  “Hi I’m Butternut Squash” … what that doesn’t happen to you?!?

The November 2009 issue of Parents Magazine had a really yummy-sounding recipe for Baked Macaroni & Cheese.  However it included Butternut Squash (we hadn’t met at this time).  The picture looked yummy so I thought I’d give it a try.

Butternut Squash

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 cups butternut squash cut into cubs
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 lb elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat)
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour (again, I used whole wheat)
1 1/2 cups reduced fat milk
1 3/4 cups low-fat white cheddar cheese, shredded and divided

Here’s what you’ll do: (Once I figured out how to cut that big Squash in half, I was in business!!!)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Toss squash with oil and salt on a foil-lined tray.
Bake for 20 minutes or until tended, set aside (or eat a few … this is when I officially became a fan of Butternut Squash … yummy!!)


Cook pasta for 2 minutes less than the package directions call for; drain and place in a bowl with squash.
Meanwhile, melt butter over low heat.
Whisk in flour, cook for 2 minutes
Slowly whisk in milk.
Bring mixture to a boil, then simmer.
Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Add 1 1/2 cups cheese & stir until melted.
Stir cheese sauce into pasta & squash.
Season with Salt & Pepper.
Spoon into a greased casserole dish (or individual servings).  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake for 10 minutes until cheese on top is melted & browned.

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

I thought it was delicious.  My husband thought it was delicious.  The kids … not so much!!  Instead, Evan kept asking for “the other macaroni”.  As in the 3-minute, highly processed & fake cheese junk!!!!  I worked my tail off to make some yummy, nutritious Mac & Cheese & that’s what he wants … oh brother!!!

Post linked to Finer Things Friday … because Butternut Squash is now one of my finer things!

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Feeding the ducks

January 8, 2010 at 9:16 am (Christmas, family, Finer Things Friday)

On any special holiday and just random days throughout the year, we make it a point to go “feed the ducks“.   Unfortunately for our family there’s a back-story to that.  It means we’re visiting my brother-in-law’s grave site.  (It always stinks to summarize it like that … I won’t fill in all the details in this post, but you can click here or here to understand what that means us.)Anyhow, I managed to snap some really cute pictures.  The ducks were HUNGRY on this particular day!!  

Before The Bite


A little too hungry!! They snapped at Evan’s finger when he didn’t give them bread quick enough!!  

After The Bite


So Many Ducks

 Each Christmas, we take a new ornament to hang on Jeremy’s tree.  This year we went with something that both Megan & Evan love!


The Dinosaur Ornament

Because every little tree needs a dinosaur ornament!  Holidays are always tough when you’ve lost someone close. We’ve done this every year since Evan was a baby.   I really hope it’s a tradition they learn to respect and love.   We want Uncle Jeremy to be a part of there lives even though he’s not here with us.  I know Pepper hates having to celebrate Christmas with his brother like this, but at the same time I know he appreciates the tradition as well.


This post linked to Amy’s Finer Things Friday and Your Life Your Blog.

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The sisterchicks do christmas

December 18, 2009 at 6:26 am (Christmas, Finer Things Friday, random)

This past Saturday, we had our 10th Annual Sisterchick Christmas Party.  10 Years we’ve been getting together for Christmas!!  These are my very best girlfriends – some of them date back to diapers!!  Seriously.  I wore diapers when I first met ohAmanda and her family.  And now we’re changing diapers on our babies … crazy!!

Since we’ve been having an “official” Sisterchick Christmas Party for 10 years now, we’re pretty good at planning them.  In fact, I think next year’s is already half-way planned!!

Anyways.  Back to this year.

We always have the party at someone’s house.   My husband asked very sarcastically “why don’t y’all go out or something?”  Um (I said very sarcastically) because where would we go that we could spend one hour eating and five hours opening presents and taking pictures?!?!

Christmas 1999

Sometimes getting the date is the hardest part. It’s tough to do and there’s only six of us.  But the key is to plan a date early in the year & know that everyone can make it.  If someone says they can’t come, then we’ve been known to drive 2.5 hours to meet them in a different state!!!  We can’t have a Sisterchick Christmas Party without one of the Sisterchicks!

We can’t just have a get-together for Christmas.  Everything must be planned.  And everything is always theme-based.

Food theme – This is the fun part!!  We’ve had mexican, fondue, chili, soups & salads, pizza, casseroles, and more.  This year we had breakfast for dinner … YUM!

Gift theme – We each bring one big gift.  Sometimes we play steal the gift.  The last several years we’ve drawn names.  Our themes are always silly.  In honor of our 10th Anniversary, our gift theme was numbers.  Our gift somehow had to represent a number(s).  All six of us had a different spin on it.  It’s so fun to see how we each interpret the theme every year.  Explanation of this will require an entirely big & long post … maybe over the holidays!

This year we even threw in an Attire theme –  We’ve never done this before.  But this year, it just seemed appropriate to all agree to PJs since we were having breakfast.  Plus we usually hang out til after mid-night so it made for a comfortable evening & easy to hop right in bed!

Christmas 2009

It’s important to always take lots of pictures:

Pictures of pictures

Add a game or two:

"The" Prize

And have lots of deserts

served on the floor:)

These aren’t just my girlfriends … these are my Sisterchicks!

For more Finer Things Friday or to link up your own, visit Amy at The Finer Things.com.

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Finer things friday … local non-profits

December 11, 2009 at 11:01 am (Finer Things Friday, Square Peg) (, )

This time of year you hear about so many non-profit organizations in need.  I think it’s safe to say that you can’t make it through the check-out line at the grocery store without being asked if “you’d like to donate a dollar to (fill in the blank)”.  There are so many awesome organizations out there & they are filling so many important & valuable needs.

But have you ever stopped to think about some of the smaller non-profits going on right in your very neighborhood??  I’ve been honored to sit on the Board & be a part of a local Non-Profit for the last three years, Square Peg Ministries.  It operates in “my stomping grounds”.  It benefits kids in my local schools.  Therefore hopefully benefiting my immediate & local area. 

This Holiday Season – or any season for that matter – if you’re lead to give to an organization  – whether it’s your time or your money – I encourage you to consider finding a local non-profit in your area.   And while every organization doing good is worthy, it’s just fun to be part of something making a small difference right in your backyard. 

This year, our small local non-profit has teamed up with a very big coffee chain for a very cool fundraising event.    Starbucks, yes THE Starbucks, has a whole bean fundraising program that allows non-profits to have a custom blended coffee.  How cool is that?!  Someone for the organization sits down with someone at the local Starbucks.  You taste test, create a blend, pass off your logo & go back about a week later to pick up your order.  This isn’t available in all markets, but if you’re looking for a unique fundraising opportunity & one that people will actually enjoy you should see if the Starbucks Whole Bean Fundraising is available in your area.

In the mean time; however, you have an opportunity to try our custom blend – it’s a combination of Pike’s Place and Christmas Blend.  I’ll be giving away one bag of our 1lb whole bean coffee. 


  To enter:

  • Leave a comment here, telling me if there’s a local or national non-profit that’s close to your heart.

For additional entries (come back & leave a comment for each):

This contest will end Wednesday, December 16th at 9pm and the winner will be notified via email.  So enter now!!

Local Non-Profits & Starbucks … it’s one of the Finer Things in Life.

For more Finer Things Friday or to link up to your own, visit Amy @ the Finer Things in Life

Disclosure:  I am on the Board for Square Peg Ministries.  However, Square Peg Ministries did not ask & actually does not even know I’m writing this post.  I am not being compensated by Square Peg or Starbucks in any way.  In fact, I personally paid the entire $13 to Square Peg for this coffee and am giving it away to a reader just because!!  Starbucks was also paid in full and did not provide anything for this giveaway. 

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Aunt marguerite’s spinach dip

May 29, 2009 at 4:35 pm (Family Recipe Fridays, Finer Things Friday)

The summer of 2007, I spent alot of time compiling family recipes for my Mom’s side of the family – my grandfather.  My grandfather is one of 7 children – 4 ladies & 3 men.  All of the ladies knew how to cook!!  And when there’s seven children there’s bound to be alot of grandchildren & alot of cousins.  Basically at family get togethers there’s always too many cooks in the kitchen – but it’s alot of fun!   And more than likely I end up meeting some long lost relative that I’ve never met before!

My grandfather & his brothers & sisters are of course getting a little age to them, so before the recipes were all gone we decided to preserve them in a family cookbook.  It was alot of work, but it turned out really well.  We ended up with over 130 pages of recipes!

Here’s my “Aunt Marguerite’s Spinach Dip” (this is one of my grandfather’s sisters):

Here’s what you need:

10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained

1 can water chestnuts, chopped

1 pkg Knorr’s dry vegetable soup mix

2 c. sour cream

1 c. mayo

1/4 c. onion

Here’s what you do:

Mix all the ingredients together.  If possible prepare 24 hours before use.

Here’s the funny part to me – on her recipe card she wrote “to be fancy when serving, place dip in a round carved out loaf of pumpernickel bread.  Serve as a dip with broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, or squash”  … we sure know how to do “fancy” don’t we!!

For more of the Finer Things Friday or to link up to one of your own, visit Amy’s Finer Things.  For more Family Recipes or to link up to one of your, visit the Vanderbilt Wife.

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The finer things – friday’s family recipe

May 21, 2009 at 11:45 pm (Family Recipe Fridays, Finer Things Friday) ()

Summer time definitely brings the Finer Things in Life – does it not??  For me, one of those things is an old family recipe – my GranDaddy Boyd’s Homemade Vanilla Ice-Cream … yummy!! 

Here’s what you need:

4 eggs, well beaten

2 1/2 of cups sugar

2 tsp. of vanilla

1 carton of whipping cream – slightly whipped

1 small can of evaporated milk

whole milk – enough to fill the churn less about 1 inch

Here’s what you do:

Put it all in & turn on your maker!!  Freeze & Call me when it’s ready, because I’ll want some!!!

For more of the Finer Things Friday or to link up to one of your own, visit here.   For more Family Recipes or to link up to one of your own, visit the Vanderbilt Wife.

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