When You Think Hidden Valley tastes like Paste

This is just a random post so that the people that I tell about my homemade ranch dressing can find the recipe that I use. See, in my house we LOVE ranch dressing. The rest of my family will eat store bought. Mommy though thinks that it is WAAAAY too thick. I LOVE restaurant ranch dressing, especially Chili's. So, I scoured the internet trying to find a copycat. I came across this recipe and while I wouldn't say it is the same as Chili's, it is super delicious. I would recommend using real buttermilk and I water it down to the consistency that I like. Hope you like this recipe.

Recipe from Top Secret Recipes - You can click on the link to visit their website for this recipe.

1 teaspoon Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning (Buttermilk Recipe)
1 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon course ground black pepper.
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon paprika 

1. Mix all together
2. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. (I like to wait overnight).

If you're like me and your family eats a crazy ton of this stuff. You can double, triple or quadruple the recipe. I quadrupled it the last time I made it and it worked out great.

That's all for now. God is good.

Zach is 18 Months!

Our handsome little hunk of love is 18 months!! I can't believe he's so grown up. He got his haircut and he looks like a handsome little boy. He still feels like my baby though. This week he has started putting two and three words together. Those words may have been "Go away" and "I said no!" to his sister, but those are just little details. He asks to go outside pretty much from the time he wakes up until the time he goes to bed. He may have stolen Mommy's heart. His sister is still Mommy's best girl though, don't worry about that.

Zach likes:

  • His Family
  • Messing with His Sister
  • Snuggles
  • Meat
  • Applesauce
  • Eating
  • Baths
  • Cheese
  • Sesame Street
  • Elmo
  • Dancing
  • Cheez-itz
  • Goldfish
  • Apples
  • Sleeping
  • Basketballs, Soccer balls, Nerf balls, Baseballs (I think you get the picture.)
  • Crayons
  • Anything that Zoe is playing with
  • Anything that Zoe is eating
  • Animals and Bugs
  • Climbing
  • Danger
  • Stairs
  • Slides
  • Potato Chips
  • Music

Zach doesn't like:

  • Having his hair washed
  • Shots
  • Getting in his car seat
  • Getting his nails clipped
  • Electric Hair Trimmers
  • Diaper Changes
  • Getting out of the bath

Zach is unsure about:

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Jello
Here are some sweet pics of our little man:

I love pictures of him sleeping so sweetly.

This boy and his little feet. Eeeeee!

Little Boy level 10


First Haircut

Little Swimmer

We took a trip to McAllen and saw Aunt Sherri. We love her.

His first Cardinals game.

Love Love Love

Wild Thing

Two Wild Things

Another sweet sleeper

Cardinals fan

He loves to relax!

We might be in love with him. He's such a silly guy and we're so blessed to have him.

That's all for now. God is good!

And Just Like That...I'm a Soccer Mom

Zoe started soccer about a month ago. First of all, how am I already here? She was born yesterday and now she's in soccer? Secondly, I can't believe my kid is playing soccer. She does not come from a family of runners. The fact that my child is going to spend an hour running around a field is a surprise. Plus, have you seen how big regular soccer fields are? I haven't voluntarily ran anywhere in years. Maybe if you had someone driving a car with a copious amount of nachos on it, I may run after it. If a bear is chasing me or my children I would run, but anything else? Probably not.

The worry with your kid starting a sport is that you become that insane soccer mom that yells at your kid, the coaches and the refs. If I start doing that, please, please someone throw a bag over my head and drag me to the car. Unless I am yelling at my child to stop posing for the camera and play the game. If that's the case, please help, maybe she will listen to you.

But seriously, how does this happen? When you're younger it seems so far away. You are waiting for the day when you fall in love with your spouse. You wait for the day when you have a family. Then suddenly, bam, driving to soccer practice. Nothing makes you feel more like an adult than driving a kid to soccer practice, okay maybe buying a washing machine comes close. I can't believe I'm here. I can't believe my sweet baby girl is starting sports and school and also wants to take piano lessons. I can't believe that I am so blessed. Don't get me wrong... Many are my days are so tiring and tough, I just want to start over. How, how did the toddler get the scissors from the middle of the kitchen table without climbing up there? How is it possible that my kid has another rash and it's one that looks completely different from the last six rashes? Running toward the street and seeing if mom can catch me is NOT a funny game. Would I change it? No. Will I lose my mind? Possibly. I love my family and I love my life, soccer games and all.

Soccer has been good. She's had some ups and downs. The first week she walked up to the other kids and said, "I'm the best kicker!" but then she didn't understand why they weren't taking turns to kick the ball so she cried for almost the entire time. It also doesn't help that soccer is at dinner time. Heat + Running + Hanger = meltdown, not only for me but for her as well. The next few times have been pretty good. She likes running around and making goals. She especially loves the trips to Dairy Queen for dinner after her games.

Ready to start!

Her buddy Lydia is playing too!

Throwing the ball in like a boss.

Go Zo!

Little bit of Sass...

Her biggest fan!

He's cute.

That's all for now. God is good.

Home Sweet Hoyleton: We Are Family

Last week I was taught something about this sweet little town that I now call my home. The town takes care of each other. This week there was a lot of hurt in our town. There is a sweet woman in our town who is dearly love who has been diagnosed with cancer. All week long all anyone can talk about is how they can't get her out of their head. Not just the people who are her age or spend time with her on a regular basis, no everyone has been asking about her. We have been praying, crying, talking fondly of her, worrying about her loved ones for her, and we have been discussing how we can help. Some people may see our talking of one another's issues as gossip, it is concern. It is compassion. It is love.

The people of our community are tight knit. There are many jokes that float around about how the family tree in Hoyleton doesn't have too many branches. I joke about how one day someone will find me in my basement with my hair standing on end and crazy eyes, staring at a wall full of pictures connected by strings trying to figure out how everyone is connected. Many people in our town are, yes, related by blood. However, there are many people who aren't. I am not connected by blood in any way to this small community, but that doesn't change the level of love and care they offer myself and my family. Let me tell you though, I have seen how these people can work and they love their own something fierce. We recently had a fundraiser for a youth of ours who is having some health difficulties. The fundraiser was not put together by her blood relatives but by friends of her parents and friends of hers, teenagers. They saw a need and they acted. The fundraiser was extremely successful. We had another woman in our congregation recently die of cancer. I have never seen people tend to someone on hospice like our people did. The chime choir, of which she was a member, had a schedule of when each person would make contact with her by calling her or visiting her on a daily basis. Friends were visiting her constantly and when she passed there was sadness but also relief knowing she was not in pain any longer. Her friends hurt so much watching her hurt. They would come back from the nursing home and tell me how she was doing with tears in their eyes. They cared so deeply. I have never seen a group of people love like that.

And then there is their caring for me. After Zach was born I hit a pretty rough patch. I had a baby and 3 weeks later had my gallbladder out. My doctor at one point told me that my entire body was inflamed. I developed post-partum anxiety. I would have anxiety attacks that made me think that I was having a stroke or a heart attack. It was unreal. I had never had these before. What did this community do? They made meals for my family 3 nights a week for an entire month. They sat with me during church because I was afraid to be alone and they let me cry when I was so full of anxiety and scared that I was a bad mom or losing my mind. They had known me less than a year and nothing stopped them from going all in on this seemingly crazy woman. Also, they take care of my kids like they are their own. I watch them hold my kids and get teary eyed all the time.

Now, I'm not saying that the people of Hoyleton are without their thoughts and squabbles.  In my 31 years of life, I've also noticed that few families get get along 100 percent of the time. They have disagreements and people who don't care for one another's company too. That's life. However, I have also not lived in a community with such forgiving and loving people as the people that surround me here.
So when you look on the map and see a little town of 550, don't underestimate it. You could be stumbling upon one of the greatest communities you'll ever know. Don't write it off because it's 35 minutes from Target. You never know the possibilities something might hold. Two years ago, my husband received a phone call with an offer to move to this wonderful little town and I am so glad we did. I was terrified. I have learned so much about myself, about others and about what love through Christ really looks like. I have had so much fun and I can't wait to make more memories with the people of this lovely little town.
All that being said, please pray for the family that is our little town, like I mentioned above, we have families that are hurting daily and like everyone, need prayers.
That's all for now. God is good.
P.S. Hoyleton, thanks for making us part of your family.

Home Sweet Hoyleton: The Hofbraufest

When you move to Hoyleton, IL, you almost immediately find out about the biggest Hoyleton event of the year, Hofbraufest. The festival was held back at the beginning of July. Hofbraufest is a our town festival and it is all you could hope for and more. The first night we were there, I was walking around and saw the families, carnival ride, food, events and thought, "All we need now is someone kissing in the rain and this is a Nicholas Sparks movie". Seriously, all Nicholas Sparks books turned to movies are in a small town and involve a town festival, they also involve people kissing in the rain. If you are skeptical about this, see the movies: The Notebook and Safe Haven to confirm my theory. These are both great movies and you should watch them even if you believe me. Anyway, Hofbraufest was filled with awesome. Friday night's biggest draw was the new addition of a sand volleyball tournament. I'll take you through the Hofbraufest with the help of some pictures. However, it is not as good as being there in person and you should really put it on your calendar and come next year.

Zach is ready for the Hofbraufest!

Zoe riding rides with JoJo and Teddy!

Nate and I shared a funnel cake after my mom took the kids home on Friday night. Isn't that what everyone does when they have a night without kids?

There is a 5K run/walk every year. This year we walked the 5K. Nate put in some effort. I was going for a morning stroll.

Look at Nate putting in effort. His wife is not as ambitious.

My morning stroll turned into Mary Beth and I coming in dead last. That's okay with us. We got some exercise and cheered on the runners that passed us on their way to the finish line.

Quilt Auction!

Because this was the 50th Anniversary of the Hofbraufest, there was a parade. This parade was awesome. Here are the chairs set up in front of our house!

Zach's ready for the parade!

Will, Liam and Wesly came to Hoyleton for the parade.

People sitting in front of the church waiting for the parade to start. 

The parsonage crowd is ready.

Fire Trucks start off the parade.

Craig handing out candy!

This year they had a Prince and Princess Contest. Zoe participated this year. She got to ride on a float in the parade! It was so cute!

The cuteness! All the cuteness!

Wesly and Zach picking up some candy.

Here comes the Trinity Float.

So, Trinity members know how to build a float. We don't play games.

As the float passed the church, they rang the church bell. That got me right in the feels. That's my church!

This right here is a treasure of Hoyleton. This is Rollan Schnitker's van. Rollan's van is one of my favorite things about Hoyleton. This van has more character than every Disney movie combined. When this van finally dies, I think it should be bronzed and made into a monument in the park. You can't see all the character in this picture, but the giant American flags do make up for that a little bit. So Rollan added the red part for the parade. I saw the van before he was finished and all it said was "The end of all things is near." I was worried that Rollan was becoming a doomsday preparer. turns out that when the van was done it said, "The end of all things is near. 1 Peter 4:7 This 1981 Deluxe Van and its 1935 model driver and the parade!" This is all you need to know about how awesome Rollan Schnitker is, well that and his wife Gerri is also fantastic. She is hilarious and makes the best roast beef and mashed potatoes I've had in my life. 

The Hofbraufest wouldn't be complete without some German attire. This is a picture of Hoyletonians Jan Kasten Boldt and her dad, Wilfred "Wiffy" Kasten. First of all, Jan is the coolest dressed lady I've seen. Much better dressed than myself. She also rocks the lederhosen. Second, Wiffy is quite possibly one of the best names I have ever heard. Too bad Wiffy Wollenberg doesn't really work for a potenial baby name.

This is Wiffy and his sister, Laura Haake. Wif is 95 and Laura is 102. They grow them healthy here in Southern Illinois.

Wif also has his own Hofbraufest golf cart. This right here is what dreams are made of. This is what I hope for in my future. 

This is Deb. She is fantastic. She also rocks the German attire but also did so much for the Hofbraufest with two bum knees. In this photo, she is leading a German Sing-A-Long. Yeah, you read that right.

On Saturday of the fest, I was walked home alone. That night I worked my shift in the Community Building, talked to a few people and then decided since I didn't have children with me to get some ice cream. As I walked home, I looked up in the sky, I admired the beautiful night sky full of stars. I listened to the loud music echoing throughout our little town. I was so happy and content as I walked. Then, I turned the corner and this was my view. This picture does not do justice for what I saw that night. I had been thinking about how wonderful it was to eat my ice cream and walk home on a beautiful night and then I see this. My church. Our church. This reminded me to be so thankful for my life here in Hoyleton. It was the perfect end to a long day. It couldn't have been more picturesque.

Mark your calendar right now, the second week of July is Hofbraufest weekend. Make this a priority. You need to be there. There is plenty of food (really good food), beer and fun. 

That's all for now. God is good.