My Other More Exciting Self

Farm Raised, Shoe Enthusiast, Turkey Talker, Wine Lover, Mom

Happy Halloween! It’s been the oddest week for me. Joe got sick on Tuesday and basically missed the rest of the week of school due to some nasty upper respiratory crud. He NEVER gets sick. In fact, this was the first time ever that I had to pick him up in the nurse’s office at school – and he’s in 5th grade. Bummer for him, especially headed into Halloween night. Fingers crossed that he will feel good enough to do a little trick-or-treating in the neighborhood tonight, although – sssssh, don’t tell him! –  the mom in me wants to keep him home on what’s supposed to be a really cold night.

On a rather funny note – and this is not meant as a rip at all on my coworkers – but I got a lot of work done while I’ve been home with Joe. I suppose it was my ability to really concentrate on projects and not get interrupted by phone calls or the constant ping of my email. In other words, I don’t feel too terrible about being home with a sick child – other than the fact that Joe hasn’t been feeling his usual self. I don’t like that, obviously, but I don’t feel like I’ve lost ground on my to-do list at the office. And heading into November, I can tell you my to-do list is pretty major this time of year.

Enough talk about work. Let’s get on with enjoying Friday!

High Five for Friday | via MyOtherMoreExcitingSelf.wordpress.comYou know I can’t help but post a photo of #MyGirlMorgan if I have one. I mean, look at how stinking cute she is? Did I mention I get to babysit her next week? I’m not looking forward to that or anything. Nope, not at all. ;)

High Five for Friday! | via

My poor Joe. He makes me smile, even when he’s sick. He wanted to see what he looked like wearing the mask, so we took a picture and emailed it to his Dad at school with the caption, “Paging, Dr Durben!” Sometimes it’s the little things in life … plus, look at those freckles. Love!

High Five for Friday! | via

Speaking of little things … I happen to love brownies with extra chocolate chips, and I may or may not have made a pan while I was home this week with Joe. Okay, of course I did. I can’t have the Food Network on TV during the day and not get a craving to bake something. Recipe? That’s easy – this was a Ghiradelli box mix – double chocolate, although I added more chocolate chips so I guess that would make these triple chocolate, yes? And totally, completely worth it. Especially with a cup of vanilla bean creme brulee coffee. Just saying.

High Five for Friday! | via

You’d think Earl had a really rough day, based on his complete lack of awakeness (I just made that word up) last night. He loves it when we’re home with him during the day, but that also means he doesn’t get his 10 hours of naptime in – hence the whole collapsing-in-the-porch-in-a-dead-sleep mode after supper.

High Five for Friday! | via

And just for fun (please pardon the language) … my friend Lynn tagged me on a Facebook post of this meme and I couldn’t stop laughing. This is totally me. Bread, wine – and an occasional brownie and martini – and I think I’m good. ;) It was a fun chuckle to usher in the weekend.

I’m linking up with The Diary of a Real Housewife and The Lauren Elizabeth again this week.

Cheers to Friday and the weekend, friends – hope it’s a good one for you!





Okay, people. Let’s all make a pact right now that each of us will try a new turkey recipe in the next week or two.

One rule: it can’t be either of these turkey options (even though, yes, they are delish):

  • Deli-sliced turkey breast sandwich (been there, done that; this is everyone’s lunch time staple)
  • Whole roast turkey (you’re going to have this at Thanksgiving anyway)

Ready, set … go!

Here. I’ll even give you the easiest option ever in the history of, well, ever: turkey sloppy joes.

Kid friendly. You can amp up (or tone down) the spices to your taste. And a super fast option for a weeknight meal.

This particular concoction is the brain child of my friend, Karen, who may have gotten the recipe from someone else or it may be her own. I don’t really know and, honestly, I don’t really care. It’s just so simple and yummy and makes me one happy #TurkeyNerd that Karen introduced it to me years ago at one of our Fantasy Football draft parties. (Yes, by the way, I play fantasy football. Did you know that? And for the record, I am unhappy with my current team. But that’s a story for another blog post …) I should also mention that Karen’s original recipe called for ground beef, but I switched it up to my beloved ground turkey. Either works, but remember our pact – we’re using turkey this time. ;)

Let’s just all gather around the turkey sloppy joes and rejoice that a meal can be this good and this easy.

Case in point: even my son – PICKIEST EATER IN THE UNIVERSE – says these are “pretty good.” High praise, folks, high praise.

Turkey Sloppy Joes | via

Turkey Sloppy Joes

  • 2 pounds ground turkey*
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 can chicken gumbo soup
  • Seasonings to taste – like Lawry’s or other seasoned salt or whatever your little heart desires

Brown the ground turkey with a bunch of dried onion flakes (or if you’re feeling adventurous, finely chop 1/2 an onion to use instead), salt, and pepper until thoroughly cooked and no longer pink. (I add a little olive oil to the pan prior to adding the ground turkey.)

Add the tomato soup and chicken gumbo soups to the ground turkey, mix thoroughly, and continue to slowly simmer for about 10-15 minutes on the stove.

Add seasonings to taste. I typically throw in some Lawry’s seasoned salt.

Serve on wheat or white buns.

Teacher Man likes to douse his sloppy joes with some hot sauce and top with pickles. I’m more old school and like them as is. That’s the awesome thing about ground turkey – it’s flexible and handles pretty much whatever spice you like. So throw a party on your turkey if you want to – it’s all good!

* I use Jennie-O Turkey Store lean ground turkey (not the extra lean ground turkey breast, which is a little leaner – obvi). This comes in 1.25 pound packages so you can either estimate about 2 pounds, or you can do what I do when I am being kind of lazy and throw all 2.5 pounds in the mix. (I usually don’t add any additional soup and it still comes out just fine.)


For the love of Special K Bars | via

I’m fairly sure the Internet doesn’t really need another post with the world-famous Special K bar recipe. I mean, seriously. We could all search a thousand recipe posts on Pinterest for these sinful delights. But I’m defying the blogging gods and posting this anyway because these bars are just too powerful. :)

I made this classic recipe last Friday night and, as it always does, it brought back memories of my mother-in-law, Mary, who passed away in 2013. I can’t quite remember when it started, but at some point, years ago, Mary made Special K bars when Teacher Man and I visited her and my father-in-law. I raved because, of course, I looooove these bars and could easily eat half the pan if left to my own devices.

Since that first initial pan, my mother-in-law would make these bars for me every time we came to visit. I know. I was so lucky! (The only potential downside being I had to fight with my father-in-law and Teacher Man over who got to eat the most rows. Have you ever seen those boys cut into a pan of these bars? Experts, I tell you!)

When I posted this memory last weekend along with a photo of my Special K bars on Facebook, I received quite a few comments from people who had their own Special K bar stories.

  • One friend said his mom used to make them at the family’s lake home and he doesn’t remember a pan lasting more than hour. (Yep, sounds about right.)
  • Another wrote that Special K bars are her Relay for Life team’s claim to fame and they’ve sold thousands of bars over the years for a good cause. (Now that’s awesome!)
  • Still another likes to make the case that Special K bars qualify as a breakfast food – it is cereal, after all, with a good dose of protein from the peanut butter. (Agreed!)
  • And several friends told me Special K bars were their mother-in-law’s favorite, too. (See – the power of the Special K bar!)

I kind of got a little veklempt at all these delightful stories about our connections to Special K bars and the family members we love. I will always have wonderful memories of my mother-in-law – her kind heart, her love of good stories and her completely infectious laugh.

And we’ll always share our love of Special K bars.

For the love of Special K Bars | via

My favorite picture of my in-laws – at our house with Joe to celebrate his 9th birthday in January of 2013.

Special K Bars

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 6 cups Kellogg’s Special K cereal
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips
  • 6 oz. butterscotch chips

Combine the sugar and corn syrup in a pan over medium heat, stirring often. Bring to a boil and immediately take off the heat.

Stir in the peanut butter. Add this mixture to the Special K cereal and mix thoroughly.

Pour mixture into a 9 x 13 pan and press down on the mixture.

Combine the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for about 30 seconds, stir, and microwave for another 25-30 seconds and stir until mixture is completely melted. Do not over-microwave; chocolate mixture can burn. (You can also do this step in a pan over low heat on the stove.)

Pour chocolate mixture over the Special K bars in the pan and smooth with knife.

Note: If you are like Teacher Man, you probably like your Special K bars refrigerated; he feels they are best when cold. If you’re like me, you like them at room temperature. There is no right or wrong answer. In our house, I cut a few bars to store in the fridge for Teacher Man and leave the rest on the counter.

Oh, and I should mention … if you like more chocolate, use 1 (12 ounces) bag EACH of chocolate chips and butterscotch chips. It’s what I would suggest – wink, wink.

When I left work on Friday, I told my coworkers we really didn’t have much scheduled for the weekend, besides Joe’s Halloween piano recital, but by the time the evening rolled around, we had turned one small piano recital into a Halloween occasion that included Grandma Marilyn, Auntie Jodi and cousin Morgan. In other words, good times!

Before I move on to all the fun photos, I must tell you Joe did awesome at his recital — he’s got a great musical touch and completely nailed his song, even though he had just gotten the song less than two weeks ago and decided to switch it to a minor key to make it sound spookier. #LoveThatBoy

Okay, on to the photos:

Phantom, Piano & Pumpkins, Oh My! | via

Grandma and cousin Morgan joined Joe in the Halloween spirit of the day.

Phantom, Piano & Pumpkins, Oh My! | via

A #HalloweenSelfie with the nameless phantom and his mysterious Grandma – this cracks me up!

Phantom, Piano & Pumpkins, Oh My! | via

While waiting for the piano recital to start, Morgan waved – a new skill she just learned! – to her mom and Grandma, who were sitting behind us.

Phantom, Piano & Pumpkins, Oh My! | via

Relief! The piano recital was over, which meant Joe could relax and get back to his goofball self. He was also completely ready for a scheduled sleepover to begin with one of his best buddies, Kody.

Phantom, Piano & Pumpkins, Oh My! | via

Here’s a full look at Miss Morgan’s Halloween outfit – along with what appears to be my clown feet, which look super long in this photo. :)

Phantom, Piano & Pumpkins, Oh My! | via

One more photo of Miss Morgan, who is crawling all over the place now (she’s just over 10 months old) and is getting quite adept at pulling herself up and standing. I’m sure it won’t be too long before she just takes off walking.

Phantom, Piano & Pumpkins, Oh My! | via

A sleepover calls for pancakes for breakfast! I think Joe’s friend Kody – who has a self-described bottom-less pit of a stomach – ate at least five that were bigger than these. And Miss Morgan is a big pancake fan, too.

Phantom, Piano & Pumpkins, Oh My! | via

Do you see those photos with families who carve pumpkins together? That’s not exactly how it happens at my house. Basically, Joe likes to draw a design for a spooky, evil-looking jack-o-lantern and then he watches me do all the carving. (He thinks pulling out the insides of the pumpkin is gross.) He did say, however, that I am “really good at carving pumpkins.” Truth is, I am not really a crafty-type mom in the traditional sense but I can carve pumpkins. This year, I found a pug pumpkin stencil and created the pumpkin at right. It looks like Earl the pug!

Phantom, Piano & Pumpkins, Oh My! | via

And thanks to an idea from my sister before she left this morning, I took out Teacher Man’s drill and got to work on this polka dot pumpkin. I think it turned out pretty cute – and it was super easy!

Phantom, Piano & Pumpkins, Oh My! | via

Okay, I lied. I have to post one more Miss Morgan photo, courtesy of Grandma Marilyn.

Not bad for an unscheduled weekend! Now Joe and I are laying around on the couch, he watching a video on his iPad and I’m getting ready for Madam Secretary on TV (love this new show, by the way!). Earl is snoring at our feet. In other words – a perfect Sunday night.

Did you do anything Halloween-related this weekend?

This has been such a productive week for me at work – I love when that happens! And in reality, I needed it, too, after being gone a couple of days last week attending a conference. Today, I’ve got a meeting that will take up most of the day and then it’s on to the weekend, which includes Joe’s Halloween piano recital. I’m so proud of how hard he’s worked on his song – and perhaps more amazingly, he decided on his own that the song wasn’t “spooky enough” for Halloween so he’s playing it in a minor key, even though it’s written in F major. (For those of you who don’t read music, this means that instead of playing what’s written, he is transposing music notes in his head. This tells me he is definitely learning!)

Here are few small but mighty highlights of my week:

Perennial Garden Mum | via

I spent some time last Sunday in my gardens, prepping them for winter. Typically this means cutting back perennials and shrubs, as needed, and getting rid of annuals that most definitely didn’t make it past our most recent frost. I thought my mums were basically done for the season until I spotted this purple beauty, so I was able to capture one last photo to enjoy. I love purple.

Turkey Truths from the Food Network | via

As I was flipping through the November issue of The Food Network magazine (with one of my favorites, Ina Garten, on the cover!), I came across this helpful little section that debunks some turkey myths. This #poultrynerd couldn’t have been happier! Of course I clipped this out and plan to use it somehow in November via Minnesota Turkey‘s social media platforms. In an unrelated note, I still love actual, real magazines. The iPad versions are nice, especially when I’m traveling, but there’s something about having the glossy pages of the magazine at my fingertips.

Crazy running tights | via

I went for a walk this week during Joe’s piano lessons and had to stop and admire my new pair of leggings – I know, how silly, right? But sometimes a girl just has to get something new – and these leggings have a great pattern and an even better price: $6.94 from Walmart. (Similar here.)

Fall colors in Minnesota | via

Hands-down, the absolute best part of my Thursday was coming home, putting on my running tights and getting outside to enjoy the sunny blue skies and amazing 70 degree weather. Normally when I get home, the boys are hungry and want to eat immediately, but I decided they could both wait – the weather was just too nice not to take advantage of it. When I got back from my run, I took this picture below the gorgeous silver maple in front of our house. The colors of fall in Minnesota have been beyond amazing this year!

Wingtips and Wine | via

And finally … this is a picture of my Thursday night. I was working on a weekly email newsletter for my job that I wanted to get done prior to Friday, enjoying some wine and listening distantly to the NFL football game (Denver vs. San Diego) in the background. Little known fact: I enjoy playing fantasy football so even if I’m not watching games closely, often football is on so I can keep track of what’s happening.

That’s it! I’m linking up with The Diary of a Real Housewife and The Lauren Elizabeth again this week – if you head over to their blogs, you’ll see what they’ve been up and can also check out links to many other blogs.

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!


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