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The Kitchen Products That Help Me Fake It

Dear Diary,
I have a confession to make.

Everything - my schedule, my life, my hair - it's all a mess.

I don't have it all together. In fact, most days make me feel like I'm rushing from one task to another.

I'm still trying to pinpoint a routine that works for us, one that streamlines our to-do list and works to calm the chaos. They say balance is a beautiful illusion, and it couldn't be more true.

Thanks to gift cards I've received for Christmas, I made a number of Amazon purchases to inspire my lofty goal of, at the very least, appearing like I'm on top of things. (Spoiler alert: I'm not.)

Note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I'll make a small commission that I'll use to buy more products to help me fake it 'till I make it.


First, I purchased a pair of inexpensive bins that house a week's worth of the kids' school lunches. I pre-prepare their sandwiches, add them to the bins and then each morning, the kids pack them. At 10 and almost-7, they're fully capable of completing that task for themselves.


This soda can dispenser is a necessary space saver in our fridge.


I received a set of these OXO storage containers for Christmas too. I purchased the chalkboard stickers and pen and additional OXO cookie jars with the gift card I mentioned earlier, and include carb counts for easy snacking.


I do believe these cereal containers keep the kids' favorites fresh for longer.


Finally, and probably one of the best purchases I've made, were two of these expandable drawer organizers. The wood tone almost matches that of my cabinetry so it looks like it's meant to be in there. I utilize one for our cutlery, and the other for our miscellaneous cooking utensils.

Now, I know none of this is going to revolutionize the known concepts of organizing, but it did help automate our routine. Everything is in its place, it's easy to find, and it allows our children take ownership of their lunches. Our food stays fresher longer, and all of our precious shelf space is used to its full capability.

What kitchen organization tricks do you employ?

Super Bowl 52 Fun - Minneapolis, MN

Dear Diary,
It's not everyday the Super Bowl comes to town.


And though I was so hoping for this to be considered a "home game," I cast aside my lingering disappointment over the Vikings' loss to the Eagles to enjoy what is sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

In the days leading up to the game, the Twin Cities was festooned in related themes, interactive exhibits, live music and delicious regional food favorites.

One Sunday, we boarded the Light Rail and found ourselves at the Super Bowl Live! event at Nicollet Mall.

And thanks to the Mobile Fan Pass app I had previously downloaded, the kids were able to collect "badges" with each completed experience. We discovered Madelyn has a pretty good aim, having successfully thrown footballs through a wall of tires.





(Score!)

They made leaping catches into foam pits.





(The "official" photos paired with my blurred action shots - they both made the catch!)

We took part in a VR quarterback competition, which of course, Landen won.

We also donned ice skates and circled a rink in the middle of the Mall.





And thankfully, the weather cooperated until the sun went down and the wind picked up. We were able to cram in quite a few of the activities set up to celebrate.







Radio and TV stations from across the country and around the world took up residence at the Mall of America. Called "Radio Row," there were many a news segment and interview recorded, and sightings of celebrities were abundant. We saw Doug Flutie, who unfortunately I recognize more from his Dr. Pepper commercials than his football career. He is very frail and petite.


On Friday, February 2, the family met me at my office at the end of the day to check out the event co-sponsored by my employer. There were interactive, illuminated art displays, live performances, bonfires and of course, food and drinks.

The day before the Super Bowl, we found ourselves at the Minneapolis Convention Center for the Fan Experience. I had to purchase tickets (which were very reasonable), and scored passes to get the kids access to the autograph bays. Landen made it his mission to collect as many signatures and meet as many of his heroes as possible.





We waited for autographs. A very kind group of people gave the kids and I wristbands that allowed us to skip ahead in line to be first to meet and collect signatures from famous athletes.



Apparently David Johnson, who plays for the Arizona Cardinals, grew up just across the Mississippi River from Nick's home town.

(Brett Hundley) 



The kids met Vikings great, Kyle Rudolph.



Landen caught a pass thrown by a New Orleans Saints player ...


... and Madelyn learned to tackle.


One thing's for certain - the greatest takeaway from our experiences are the memories we will be talking about for years to come.

Our Inaugural Fire

Dear Diary,
I am glad my life didn't go as I had planned.
I am glad I didn't move to New York City (which is a shocking revelation because I do love it).

I'm glad instead, I followed my heart to Iowa.

This year, I checked off a revised aspiration of sorts from my life's To Do List.

I've long envisioned owning land to call my own, honing in on the moment a pair of red-cheeked children return inside from an afternoon on our property, and I'd be ready with plates of snacks to help them refuel.

Then my husband would follow, and we'd retreat to the family room to enjoy each other's company beside a warm fire.

We purchased that patch of land in June, and I'm pleased to report, I just recently lived my dream.


I like the fact that the fireplace is 2-sided and grand, so we can enjoy it in both sitting rooms.


I look forward to many more fireside moments.

The Dome Top Trunk Discovery

“Mom! Mom! Mom!”

Landen burst through the door covered in snow, his cheeks red from the cold.

“We found a treasure chest!”

I was doubtful initially, thinking they had stumbled upon castaway furniture of some sort. Though I encourage their imaginations to wander as they explore the property, and the fallen leaves made the wooded areas much more open and accessible, I questioned him.

“Are you sure?” I asked. “Describe it.”

“It’s wood, and it had a round top but I broke it when I tried to move it.”

“… Can we move it?”

“No, leave it where it is.”

My gut-punch response was due to the fear and possibility of tetanus should they scrape themselves. But I admit, I was intrigued. 


(These two pictures show the area on our property where the dome top trunk was found. 
Landen now has an ideal location to metal detect once the snow melts.)

A few hours later I emerged from the house to clear our driveway of snow, and I suggested the kids bring their discovery into the garage.

The general shape had rotted away, and I immediately realized its construction was both wood and a tin-like metal material. The construction was of wood, tin and leather, with seemingly wrought-iron reinforcements, and it looked … old.

This was NOT a dresser.

You know that chest the kids told you they found?” I texted Nick, who was out flying a trip. “I think they’re on to something.”

I still tried to not jump to any conclusions, as I felt the materials needed to dry out before I could better inspect it. (Update: we speculate the trunk is from the 1930s.) But I could certainly see why my children were so excited. I immediately thought of our hypothesis that this land was once a trading post, considering the fact that Captain Dodd came through our suburb for military service. 

COULD this be a treasure chest?!

I found some old maps of our city online, and quickly identified our property’s location thanks to how easy it was to spot Dodd Blvd. Until 1871, there was a dispute between the boundary lines of Dakota and Scott Counties. Our location is in very close proximity. Present-day New Market Township in Scott County is our neighbor to the south. 

I also learned that this land was settled by immigrants from Scandinavia, who became farmers. Government treaties regarding this area with the local Native American tribes were taken advantage of, and though many were displaced to a reservation in northern Minnesota, they'd return to their hunting grounds in the summer. Then, following the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862, thousands of Native American women, children and elderly men were marched for miles to Fort Snelling to be interned. It's referred to as the Minnesota Trail of Tears, and according to maps I've found online, it's also likely to have passed through our land.

If this is the documented information I could find, I wondered what was left undocumented.

Beyond these generalities, specific details of this area are difficult to pinpoint.

So, I cannot confirm the possibility that the kids found a treasure chest but I cannot deny it either. And Landen is eager to metal-detect here too.