Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Hint: See if it bounces



posted under humor | 6 Comments »

2 Easy Summer Desserts


Summer is the time of picnics and pot lucks which are occasions that prompt me to “bake”.  Or at least fake it with a yummy dessert to share.

First up, is my standard summer cake.  It isn’t my creation – I believe I saw it in a Good Housekeeping 15 or 20 years ago for the first time and continue to see it here and there.  But I’ll share in case there are a couple of you who haven’t tried it – or don’t realize just how easy it is.  It is especially nice to make for the 4th of July because of the red, white, and blue colors.  You can make the cake a flag cake by making the strawberries stripes and clustering the blueberries in the top quarter – but I like the berries more evenly distributed.

dsc09571Jello Cake

1 box lemon cake mix

1 tub Cool Whip

1 box strawberry jello

Fresh strawberries & blueberries (can also add raspberries and blackberries if you like)

Bake the lemon cake according to the directions on the box in a 9×13 pan.  Allow it to cool.

While it cools, prepare the jello according to box directions (I usually reduce the water from 2 cups to 1 1/2 but either way it will turn out fine). Let it cool a bit but not start to turn into jello.

Poke holes every inch or so all over the top of the cake with a chopstick or other similar item (spoon handle, etc).  Slowly pour the liquid jello over the cake, allowing it to seep into the holes.  Allow to sit for 2 hours.  Then top with container of cool whip and put berries on top.


My husband loves Oreo Cream Pie at Eat N Park.  Everytime we go home, even if it is 9am, he asks if they have it.  The answer is often “No”.  But when they do, he does a little happy dance.  My thoughts on it – meh.  I could take it or leave it.  It doesn’t curl my toes.  For Father’s Day, I decided I would try and make one for him.  I scoured the restaurant copy cat sites and didn’t turn up Eat N Park’s recipe.  I settled on this recipe.  It was a hit – not exactly up to Eat N Park standards but he asked how to make it so he could do it himself if I didn’t make it again soon enough.  I will use a smaller pie pan next time because it was a little too thin in this pan. And I might increase the butter a tad for the crust because it fell apart a bit.

dsc09744Oreo Cream Pie

39 Oreo cookies

1/4 Cup butter, melted

1 8oz package cream cheese, softened

1/3 Cup sugar

2 Cups cool whip, thawed

Put 26 oreos into good processor and pulse until crumbs (or put in large ziploc and use rolling pin to crush them).  Add melted butter and pulse until distributed.  Press mixture into 9″ pie pan and refrigerate.

Beat the cream cheese and sugar together on medium until smooth and fluffy. Chop 9 oreos.  Fold in crushed cookies and cool whip.  Pour into pie crust.  Refrigerate. I topped with a little extra whipped cream.

Remaining cookies are a reward for making your husband a pie for garnish.


posted under food | 7 Comments »

Christmas in June


I finally got around to finishing a craft I started in January.

Look at me being ahead of the game and painting the ornaments I’ve been wanting to do for the girls!  I finally found the big clear balls I wanted – even if it is June.

No such thing as a quick trip


dsc09776We were near Hobby Lobby yesterday and I asked Steve if he would mind if I ran in quickly.  The picture frames are 50% off again this week.  I never used to display family photos but since we had children and moved away from friends and family I find that I display quite a few and needed a few new frames.  He said he would stay in the car with the girls with the a/c on.

dsc09771I ran inside.  I picked up a couple of frames and then detoured to the clearance aisle.  I recently started using my napkin basket for napkins again (our child didn’t know the word napkin – she thought paper towels served that function) so I needed something to throw the random crap on top of the frig in.  I found this cute lady bug thing for 80% off so the detour through the clearance aisle seemed like time well spent.

I really wanted to wander some more but I knew the kids and Steve were waiting so I headed to the checkout.  There were 2 lines.  One was about 8 people long.  The other had 2 people in it.  Stupidly, I headed to the short line.  The woman who was being waited on had 2 carts full of breakables so each item had to be wrapped separately.  Then she asked to have it broken into 2 transactions.  Ten minutes later, she finally left.  The other line was populated with new folks and still long.

The college girl in front of me only had a few items so I figured I was home free.  She added Testamint gum (which she referred to as “Jesus Gum” which cracked me up) as a gift to her friend’s mom who was waiting in the parking lot and calling to complain at increasing intervals.  Then the girl’s debit card was declined for insufficient funds.  She took off an item and tried again.  Declined.  She took off an item and tried again.  Declined.  Lather. Rinse. Repeat 5 times.  She was down to $8.05 and still declined when her friend gave her $10 cash just so they could get out of the store.  It took almost 10 minutes from start to finish for college girl to exit the line.

The cashier apologized but I wasn’t upset.  Sure I would have preferred to get out of there more quickly but I found the whole thing kind of amusing.  She “accidentally” rang up my photo frames for much less than they were marked.  I asked her if she was sure that she got everything when I saw the total.  She assured me she had.  I started to correct her mistake when she gave me The Eye and said she was sorry for the inconvenience of my wait and that she had rung up all of my items.  The woman in line behind me gave me a slight wink and said “I guess it is your lucky day to find such a great sale.”  I finally realized that they were telling me to shut up and get out because she was doing something nice for me. Weird trip to Hobby Lobby.

posted under nashville | 6 Comments »

Potty Training sucks


dsc09666I really don’t have anything to say today other than whining that I am tired of potty training.  Is wearing diapers until kindergarten really a bad thing?  We’ve just made the switch from pull ups to panties.  It’s been 1 1/2 days and we’ve only had one accident which is fabulous.  But to get those results, I have to take Sabrina to the potty every hour.  Which results in much whining from her – she doesn’t want to stop what she is doing to go potty.  She worries that Tessa will take her toys while she goes potty. She doesn’t need to go potty.  She doesn’t want to go potty.  She has a boo-boo.  Look! A bug.  Seriously, the whining is wearing me down.


dsc09609On a completely unrelated note, I love that this little restaurant seems to have an identity crisis.  Every time we drive past it, we laugh.  If you can’t read the signs, it says “Wok -N- Grill and Sno Biz Treat Center”.  One awning says “Delicious Chinese Food, Good Prices” and the other says “Ice Cream, Shakes & Smoothies” while the ledge over the drive through says “Sno Biz Shave Ice”.  I’ve never been brave enough to eat there but it always makes me smile.

Fava Beans anyone?


Father’s Day was low key here.  I cooked Steve a couple of his favorite things that I don’t normally make because they aren’t things I particularly love: stuffed shells and oreo cream pie.  The girls got him a Pens Stanley Cup shirt and Sabrina colored him a card.  He loves Chianti so I got him a bottle of good chianti:


He said it was pretty good and proceeded to drink 2/3 of the bottle so the label didn’t lie.  I don’t usually buy wine for the cute/funny label but I couldn’t resist.


To completely change the subject, Tessa and Sabrina are at such fun ages.  Tessa will be 11 months old next week (how in the eff did that happen?) and she is starting to become a playmate for Sabrina.  Sabrina has a grand time getting down to crawl with her – they chase each other around the coffee table or the island in the kitchen screeching and laughing at each other the whole way.  The afternoons here are especially loud.  But I love hearing them laugh together.  Sabrina’s other favorite thing is the feed Tessa.  She gets a little bowl, her Dora hairbrush, and pretends to feed Tessa.  Sabrina will say the same things we do when we feed Tessa: “It is time to eat not play”, “Good job Tessa”, or “Last bite!”  It is hysterical because Tessa is starting to play along.  She will open her mouth for each “bite” and even sort of smack her lips like she is chewing. They both get a kick out of it.




posted under family | 9 Comments »

Party food


dsc09734-1Saturday night, some friends made the long drive to come and hang out here.  We watched a little trashy TV, ate and drank yummy things, and chatted.  I think it is the first time I’ve hosted more than 1 person at a time since we lived in Pittsburgh.  Between moving and pregnancy and having a newborn and not knowing many people and living farther than many folks want to drive to hang out – just one of those seasons in our lives when we’ve been pretty insulated.  It was fun to play hostess!

I was going to share the Vietnamese spring roll recipe today.  I made them for dinner on Saturday and made extras for the gathering that night.  I’m always looking for gluten free items I can make when my mother in law visits.  But they weren’t a big hit so I won’t share that.  I liked them a lot.  Steve said they were all mushy and compared them to Asian gummy bears – he is usually my biggest fan.  (I thought the carrot and lettuce and green onion provided plenty of crunch.)  So I will continue to eat them for lunch.

What I will share is the cocktail I made.  It was fruity, slushy, and not overly sweet – perfect on a hot night.  It is a Sandra Lee recipe.

Cactus Rose Cocktail

1/2 cup frozen raspberries

1/4 cup frozen limeade concentrate

6 oz tequila

3 oz orange liqueur (e.g. Triple Sec)

3 oz cranberry juice cocktail (I used light)

I also added a bit of diet sprite because it was a little strong.

Fill blender with ice and add all ingredients.  Pulse until it is all blended and slushy.  I really enjoyed it.

I’ll also share the other recipe that was a hit for the night.  Again, it isn’t my creation and there are many variations of it out there.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

2 cans (9.75 oz each) premium white chicken breast in water, drained

8 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup ranch salad dressing (can use blue cheese dressing if you prefer)

1/2 cup cayenne pepper sauce (e.g. Frank’s)

1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Mix it all togther.  Bake at 350* for 20 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips and celery sticks.

Go check out other (probably more original) recipes at Southern Fairytale by clicking the button below:


posted under food | 14 Comments »

Splish Splash


Steve was out last night at some geekfest Adobe event.  He usually does bed time with the girls but we made the best of it.  Tessa was ready to go to sleep at 5pm and I was trying to keep her up until at least 6.  I decided to do the first tandem bath.  The girls had a ball.

dsc09707We only had one moment that made my heart stop – Tessa’s little butt slipped and she almost fell over but her head landed on my foot.  (I sit with one leg in the tub so I can act quickly if someone slips.)  She normally bathes in her blow up tub so this was her first time in the big tub.




posted under family | 6 Comments »

Favorite post


Robin at Pensieve challenged everyone to choose just 1 post from their blog as their favorite. Anyone who has been visiting me for awhile knows I find it impossible to make choices like that.  With me it is always “if this then that except on the second Thursday of the month…”.  Surprisingly, only 2 posts sprang to mind.  And only those who have been reading me for a long time would remember either of them.

The first one was published on May 2, 2006.  It was titled “Ways to pass time while waiting for international adoption”.

The second was published on May 26, 2007.  It was titled “Training to Foster”.

Neither contain any great news – they just make me laugh.  Obviously the news of our referral, news of Sabrina’s adoption being complete, news we were coming home from Antigua, actually hitting US soil with Sabrina, news that my pregnancy might actually take, and news of Tessa’s birth were all much more memorable events…but they were events, not just posts.  For sheer joy of blogging I like those two.  And when forced to choose 1 – I would pick training to foster.  Unfortunately, the comments from them were lost when I moved my blog to wordpress (for the first one) and when we stopped hosting our own sites (for the latter).

If you blog, can you choose just 1 post that is your absolute favorite?

Then she announced “I got crabs!”


dsc09650Remember last month when I made the butterfly collage for Sabrina’s room? Well, exactly a month later, I finally made Tessa’s crab collage.  The 50% off sale on frames at Hobby Lobby yesterday finally allowed me to buy a frame without guilt.  I spent forever doing a grid for Sabrina’s butterflies so they would all be even and straight.  And I still wasn’t happy with the result.  So this time, I threw my OCD caution to the wind and just eyeballed it.  There are crabs that are a little off but really the butterflies aren’t any straighter.

I learned 2 things through these projects.

1.  This isn’t a good project for someone with a perfectionist streak because trying to get all of these things straight and level and even could drive someone bonkers.  And you might not realize until later that all of the crabs aren’t facing the same way which will cause a huge fight between your inner perfectionist and your inner lazy self.  Lazy won but perfectionist will take note of it every single time it is in my eyesight for the next 15 years.

2.  Unless you have a good sense of humor, don’t give your 2.5 year old left over crab cut outs to play with prior to going out in public.  Because she will go through Kroger gleefully telling strangers “I got crabs!”

posted under Misc. | 9 Comments »
« Older Entries