This afternoon…

This afternoon I’ll be onto bigger and better things (also known as spring break). This year my kind and loving family invited me on a cruise with them! That means nine days in the company of my parents and brother Andrew. Nine whole days of nothing but together time… However, in reality, I can’t wait to spend time with them! I learned to fully appreciate family vacations once I stopped living with my family. I miss them leading up to the trip, so I look forward to together time, and at the end of the trip when I’m tired of being together I go back to my house and they back to theirs. It’s perfect!

I imagine it now, the first day at sea. I’ll sleep in, and when I finally wake, I’ll step onto the balcony squinting at the sun and basking in the warmth. I’ll put my swim suit on right away, enjoy a buffet breakfast, and head straight to the pool with sunglasses and a good book. And there I will stay, replenished by the sun and any beverage that happens to come my way. Ahhhhh. Paradise.

That’s just day one!

But really, when you live in the freezing cold midwest, an annual warm weather vacation is necessary. I can’t wait!


Goodbye Nice Teenager, Dog, and House

As the week of teenager, dog, and house sitting came to a close I found myself disappointed at the thought of returning to my own home. I truly enjoyed hosting two parties, taking long walks around the neighborhood with the dog, and even jumping onto the carpool list. I knew I was all in when I began texting other moms more than my own friends. I know I’ll miss it. To put things in perspective, consider the list I complied comparing my home to the home I stayed in last week.

Brunch with friends in the "breakfast nook"

Brunch with friends in the “breakfast nook”

Two person kitchen table next to the stove vs eight person “breakfast nook” surrounded by windows

Heat that doesn’t reach the bedroom vs three fireplaces

Flamethrower vs double convection oven

Hand washing vs band new dishwasher

2,000 square feet vs 5,500 square feet

Dog vs five roommates

Any guesses which house is which? Well, I’ll let you think on that one. In any case, I am happy to be home surrounded by my lovely roommates, and I better not start comparing them to the dog. In case any roommates are reading, I love you all more than any dog!

Dog or No Dog?

This week I temporarily adopted a dog. By that I mean I’m dog-sitting, and by that I mean I get all the benefits of having a dog for one week, and then when the responsibilities start to add up I am relieved of my dog care duties. This is what’s happened so far: Ginger (the dog) alternated between jumping on my bed and scratching at the door to go outside at 3:00am until I finally let her outside. The next day Ginger and I tried to go for a walk. I say tried because we walked to the next door neighbor’s and Ginger turned around. Then there are the times when I’m sitting on the couch working and Ginger drops a toy at my feet, lays her head on my leg, and looks longingly at me until I play with her (which doesn’t take long because puppy eyes are irresistible).

Evidence of a failed walk

Evidence of a failed walk

Then I remember why I enjoy being home with Ginger. For example, she sits by me whenever I sit down on the couch, and I can always be sure to find her ready for a snuggle. She is intent on keeping me safe from visiting friends and geese alike. It never gets old that simply my entrance into the house makes Ginger’s tail wag. I have yet to find any person whose giddiness at seeing me emanates throughout his/her body. And I don’t expect to, for the record!

Though the temporary nature of dog-sitting sounds ideal, I already feel sad about leaving Ginger. My parents declared they will absolutely not gift me a dog for graduation, so this note is for everyone else… If you buy me a dog I will love you and be forever thankful for you! Just saying.

How to Survive the Cold

It is so freaking cold. More accurately, we’ve been spoiled with a mild winter this year, so a slight temperature drop feels severe. Still, I say yesterday was cold.

Valentine’s Day is possibly the worst holiday to bring negative temperatures. Think about it, all those flowers that just can’t make it in the cold. I bet a fair share of well-intentioned men set out to buy flowers for loved ones only to find the gifts frozen and in decline upon arrival at home. It’s the thought that counts? I hope so anyway!

I happen to be with my family this weekend, and we share an understanding of a favored cold weather coping mechanism. When it’s too cold to go out, we might as well stay in and mix drinks. Up this weekend: the Moscow mule. The classic vodka, ginger beer, and lime concoction dates to the 1930s. The drink began humbly when a vodka sales rep and a ginger beer manufacturer met in a bar, where they wallowed in their struggling businesses. Suddenly an idea hit the businessmen, and they decided to create a cocktail. And there you have it, the Moscow mule. Whatever the story, the drink lives on in this Minnesota home.

I wish I could say more, but my only advice to survive in this terrible climate is to find a way to take your mind off it. It always (well usually) does the trick.

The Cheesecake Challenge

Yesterday took me on a new baking adventure: cheesecake. I volunteered to bring dessert for Bible study, and I vowed to try something new. Here enters cheesecake. I needed a treat high school students were sure to eat, so I started brainstorming cheesecake flavors. I ruled out plain early on, considered chocolate, and ended on Reese’s. I am embarrassed to admit, but this is a Pinterest dessert if I’ve ever seen one.

The cheesecake preparation process was simpler than I expected. I’m not sure what I expected exactly, but apparently not that. I followed Taste and Tell’s recipe for the cheesecake and everything worked well. I made the cheesecake the night before and chilled it still in the springform pan with the sides on. Then, about two hours before serving I removed the sides and added chocolate topping from Oh My God Chocolate Desserts. I then put the cheesecake back in the fridge until serving it. I recommend doing this method because everything held together well.

Upon serving, the cheesecake was gone in under five minutes, so I guess it was hit! Many friends also saw the baking process and have requested I make it for them soon. All good signs. It did look pretty delicious. Let’s start with the Oreo crust, move to the chunks of Reese’s in the cheesecake and on top, and end with the dark chocolately topping. So… yum. Now I have cheesecake under my belt, and it’s on to the next challenge.

It’s Over

Post Super Bowl sadness enter… Now! Super Bowl Sunday is a day filled with football, commercials, friends, and food. Lots and lots of food when I’m around. Because really, what is a football game without friends and snacks? Way less fun is the answer.

Though a snackadium (Google it) surfaced a few times as a viable idea, I talked the kids and friends out of it in favor of other favorites. To clarify, yes, I did host this party with the kids, but I also invited my friends.

After much debate we decided on guacamole (duh!), bruschetta, bacon-wrapped dates, spinach and artichoke dip, and nachos with cupcakes and snickerdoodle cookies for dessert. And what’s a party without a signature drink? My best friend Sue made “fizzy punch” for the kids.



Now the fun is over, and I’m already thinking about the next party. You can never have too many parties

Weekend with Four

This weekend I play mom to four children. I’m on Friday at 12:30 through the Super Bowl on Sunday.

First, these kids are perfect, and I’ll be pleased if my kids behave half as well. Last night I told the boys they could play video games for ten minutes before they would set the table for dinner. The oldest said to me, “You’re like our mom.” Unsure how to interpret his response, I asked “Is that a good thing?” To which he offered an enthusiastic “Yes!” I’ll take that as a success.

After that episode we made pizza. Everyone chose their own toppings and made individual pizzas. You know what that means… No fights! Not that these kids fight. Ever. And don’t worry Mom, the kitchen is spotless post pizza!

On another note, both boys survived basketball games injury free! The family and I joked about the boys breaking bones under my watch. It was a funny joke until I considered what would actually happen if either broke his arm. True, a broken arm is manageable and it heals, but even more manageable would be NO BROKEN BONES! Alas, we’re clear there. I remember the last advice I received from the dad, “Everything is insured except the kids.” So far so good!

Becoming a Social Media Mom

I am a 21-year old homemaker. There, I said it. Baking brings me joy, you’re always welcome in my home, and I start each day with children. Photos of children I babysit fill my camera roll because they do something so cute or so silly I just cannot miss it!

Today I hit a milestone, acting in a way I never have before. I Instagrammed a photo of one of my kindergartners. A typically bouncing off the walls kind of kid, he paused to sit on the couch gazing out the window at the falling snow, and I was struck by his stillness. It’s crazy how a boy of five years reminds me of life’s greatest lessons.

I would like to say the social media expression was a one time occurrence, but I have this feeling the post marked the start of a new Instagram era. There are worse things.

What if I Don’t Want to Grow Up?

Last Saturday I attended the wedding of two  college friends, Mike and Melissa, and I realized something. I am a real life grown up. I tell myself I can’t really be an adult while still in college, but I believe I finally crossed the barrier into adulthood.

I often face this realization, but the wedding had me sure of my growing independence. Though the thought of marriage for myself makes me squirm, I beamed upon seeing Mike and Melissa newly married and joyously in love. Little compares to the happiness I saw in my friends that day, and I hope to remember their high spirits for many years.

I have this last semester of college to complete, so I suppose grown up life will seem even more real after its completion. Still, many moments cause me to realize my (dare I say?) maturity. Even if I don’t want to grow up, I am. Stay tuned for more adult life musings from Taylor!

Fajita Spice Mix

I cook Mexican food in phases. I’ll make salsa and guac a few nights in a row, then Salsa Chicken the next night, and eventually I get around to mojitos (which I learned to make with fake sugar simple syrup and they are AWESOME–way better than they sound). Then I remember how much I enjoy cooking Mexican! It’s easy, healthy, and people generally like it.

I think the spice is best rubbed on chicken right before cooking. Making the spice blend ahead sets you up for a quick and easy dinner.

Fajita Spice

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp salt

Mix together all ingredients.