Meeting of the Clan

It was a “meeting of the clan” this weekend for my husband’s family. We met up with his siblings and their families at his parents house for a weekend of  fun and sweet fellowship.

cousinsAll the cousins were there – except for my Matt – which made for 7 teenage boys, 4 almost teenage boys and 2 pint-sized fellas who ate like teenage boys!  You should have seen the food they inhaled!

And we can’t forget the 6 girl cousins (including my three special nieces with the extra chromosome!) While definitely outnumbered – they added a much needed feminine touch!

It rained all weekend which ruined many of our outside plans and left us with 2 soggy tents and a basement full of boys that smelled strongly of locker room. But that didn’t stop us!

Family Fun Run

The rain slowed down enough on Saturday morning to hold our first ever Shervheim Family 5K and Fun Run.

It was wet – but boy did we make some memories! Especially when some of the 5K runners got lost on the course. Thankfully they were found before they made it to the next town.  They got a bit of teasing all week-end and Poppa and Nana awarded them all ribbons for running the half marathon!

rock climbing

Then – to get them good and tired – Poppa and Nana took the whole crew to do some indoor rock climbing. Since I tend to hyperventilate when I see my kids strapped on ropes and hanging on the sides of really high walls while holding on to little plastic supports – I volunteered to stay home with my three special nieces who needed a bath and some Aunt Melinda cuddles.

So while my husband calmly watched our babies hang in mid-air, I got to bubble 3 girls and play hair dresser. Well – actually – the girls did the hair styling and I was the “stylee”. When they were finally done,  my hair was teased out to almost horizontal with two “clicks clicks” (barrettes) in odd angles and at least one comb stuck somewhere in the back. Oh it was fun!

fish pond

Poppa and Nana had a fish pond for the littles, letting them take turns fishing for gifts.  The teens were on the other side of the curtain hooking their gifts to the poles and sometimes adding a special surprise – like a stuffed skunk or a smelly shoe!

We had a birthday party for sweet Annie-kins, a Mancala tournament (I actually made it through two rounds – but lost to Buddy in the quarter finals), lots of carpet ball, swimming and a real old-fashioned slide show!

The kids even got in one game of Ultimate Frisbee in the rain. (And to answer the question as to when kids are old enough to know not to put wet clothes in their duffle bags – it would be sometime older then ours!)

But the best part of the weekend – and of any weekend when we get together – is the time spent just hanging out.


Just being together. Laughing. Talking. Wrestling. Burping loudly. (Well – all right – not all of us did the wrestling and the burping!)

But we all enjoyed the weekend!

Sweet times.

It’s “Pi” Day

Happy National “Pi” day everyone!Pies

It’s March 14 – the third month and the fourteenth day – otherwise written as 3.14. Get it?

Remember the pi you used in math years ago? It’s that funny symbol that made all your answers end with decimal points. That pi stands for 3.14.

And since today’s date is 3.14 – today is “pi” day!

Does this make any sense at all?

It doesn’t matter – because as soon as I heard the word “pi” I didn’t think about mathematical symbols.

Nope. My mind immediately went to those yummy round shaped desserts with a crust and delectable fillings.

So Buddy and I went to work this afternoon and created not one – but 2 pies to celebrate!

You might be thinking that’s a mighty thin reason to make a pie.

Yep. I agree. Just as thin as the crust of that chocolate pie! But it’s enough for me!

I think you should find something to celebrate in every day!

That’s why we have shamrock shakes on St. Patrick’s Day.

Cherry pie on Washington’s birthday.

Snow cake to celebrate the first snow of winter.

And egg nest cookies on the day we spot the first robin of spring.

Life is a blessing – find something to celebrate today!

Fresh Salsa Memories

SalsaMy family has it’s share of traditions – some crazy, some fun, and some tasty.

Fresh salsa is one of our most addicting tasty ones.

Every year we gather at my parent’s house Labor Day weekend for an early Christmas.

And since my folks, sisters and I all have gardens, every year we bring whatever happens  to be producing at that time.

Tomatoes and peppers dominate.

So the fresh salsa tradition began. Every morning as the breakfast dishes are cleared, someone starts chopping for that day’s batch.

The recipe is simple – chopped tomatoes, chopped green peppers, chopped onions, chopped garlic. A little vinegar, or lime juice or lemon juice, some cilantro, salt and pepper and you’re done.

The proportions depend on the chef and the produce available. Once the ingredients are mixed, we all grab a chip and sample. A little more cilantro. Too many peppers, add a few more tomatoes.  Maybe a touch more salt.  Several samples later – we declare it perfect!

This tradition – however –  is not without it’s controversies.

Personally – I don’t need any extra sugar in my diet or my salsa- but my sister Sandy does. Whenever I made the salsa – she would always try to slip some sugar in it when I wasn’t looking.  I finally decided that if having sugar in her salsa was that important – she could make it the way she wanted.

She’s been doing a lot chopping ever since! 😉

Then, we discovered this trip that there were <gasp> certain members in the family who didn’t care for the taste of cilantro in their salsa.

I know it’s shocking – but true.

So Sandy made two bowls – one with for those of us with refined and discerning taste buds who appreciate the robust and wonderful taste of cilantro and one for the poor souls who don’t understand what they are  missing.

But the most shocking controversy is that of the missing salsa. One morning a few years back, we had made our daily bowl of salsa, Sandy had slipped her extra sugar in, and we left it on the counter while we “aunts” all headed out to the thrift store with Nana.

When we returned the bowl was empty, save for a stray onion bit floating in a little juice in the bottom!

Horrors! Our daily bowl of salsa was gone! All of  our efforts – the chopping, mixing and tasting were for naught.

The “aunts” were not happy.

All fingers pointed to little Lydia, my three-year-old niece who was sitting at the counter on her daddy’s lap with an empty bowl of salsa in front of them.

Lydia ate that entire large bowl of salsa? How could she – she’s only three years old?!

She had to have had help. There was someone sitting in that room with a bad case of salsa breath and a guilty conscience.

We all have our suspicions on who her accomplice was – but the culprit was never punished for his crime.

While we continue to wait for a full confession – we have learned to never leave our salsa unattended. 🙂

Fresh salsa is just one of those traditions that we take seriously. Very seriously. 😉

White Elephant Bingo

Can I share just one more tradition from our Remix celebration? (Boy can we cram a lot of them in one short weekend!)

We had a hoot playing White Elephant Bingo!

Bingo Fun

The rules are simple.

Everybody brings a wrapped white elephant gift. One person is the designated “caller” – everyone else can play with as many Bingo cards as they wish.

Whenever you get a Bingo – you choose a gift from the vast assortment on the table – or you can take a gift from someone else. Then that person needs to pick another one from the table – or take one from someone else which means that person now needs to pick another one from the table or from someone else which means… well… you get the picture!


It gets pretty wild toward the end as multiple people are getting Bingos at once! We play until someone gets a black-out. Then we take turns opening our “gifts”.

It’s interesting that when you don’t know what’s inside a present – you pick according to the wrapping.

For awhile a nicely wrapped gift with a toy chicken on top was a hot commodity.  Lovey (age 5) was thrilled when she ended up with it – at least until she opened it. The tire gauge and fancy bath soaps just didn’t thrill her!

PosterPedro was pretty excited about his gift – a poster showing airline barf bags from around the world.  Yes – I’m serious – barf bags.  No – it is NOT going in his room.

It was amazing how often the perfect gift went to the perfect person. My musical niece got a set of old Broadway Songs on cassette. (I hope she knows what a cassette player is!) 🙂

Remember Butter Buns? She got a vintage movie camera – one that actually uses film. I bet she already has it taken apart or has figured out to use it!

Then there’s my nephew TJ. This guy really needs a wife.


I’m sure the romantic super-sized heart candle and the Joe Cool sunglasses will help immensely – don’t you think?!

Buddy was very excited when he ended up with the pirate gift bag – and was even more happy to find it full of Burger King and McDonald’s Happy Meal toys.

Some gifts just keep on giving.

Poor Jan got a brand new how-to golf video (circa 1987) that we had brought the year before!

GiftsIt’s amazing the fun you can have with a garage sale Bingo game and everybody’s junk!

But then in my crazy family – it doesn’t take much to make memory!

So How Do We Iron Chef – 2011

What a week-end!

We gathered at my parents with all my siblings, their spouses and children for our traditional spring gathering that  we’ve dubbed The Remix.

Part of the crazy fun included our annual Iron Chef Competition! This year’s secret ingredient was a Mix. We could bring anything made from a mix – or a mix of things (ie: Chex Mix or Trail Mix.)

I did not have an entry this year – I just didn’t have time.  (But it’s okay – that date day with my husband was worth it!)

The  kids did though – Angel Girl made a yummy brownie -filled cookie that we found at The Picky Palate that used a brownie mix. Buddy made our favorite Hot Chocolate Cookies using hot chocolate mix and Dagmar made a new -absolutely wonderful – diet busting treat – Caramel Chex Mix. (Yes – I will share the recipe!)

Pedro went a little outside the box and put together a mix of music on his Itouch as “food for the soul”!

He wasn’t the only one that thought outside the box!

Some of my nieces and nephews blew me away with their entries!

There was the winner in the Best Represents the Family category – Sweet Prairie Memories.


This delightful jello concoction (jello is a mix!) recreated out of candy many of the things that the grand-kids love about Papa and Nana’s house.

You can see candy grandkids inter-tubing down the river, Nana playing bear in the trees, the prairie playhouse and Papa Jim on the lawn mower pulling wagons full of grand kids.

Then there was Butter Bun’s entry. (You may remember Butter Buns as my very creative 7 year old niece.) This time she “mixed” food with technology and made the amazing “cake froster”.


The mustard bottle in the middle holds frosting. You can then rotate it around the cake and squirt as much or as little frosting as you desire on your piece. 🙂

Watch for in a stores everywhere!

The grand prize in the Best Use of the Secret Ingredient Category went to my nieces Lexie and Molly for the triple layer cake and pie concoction.

Minecraft cakeThink “Turducken” meets the pastry world. Each layer is a pie baked with a cake surrounding it.

I’m serious people.  Each layer has a pie baked right inside a cake.

There were three layers.

With frosting.

And a mural on the outside in frosting complete with green creepers and a pink pig made out of caramels.

That thing was huge! They had to custom design a carrying case for it out of springform pans, a mixing bowl and duct tape just to get it there!

Talk about creativity!

Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t have time to make an entry – I’m not sure I can compete on this level! 🙂

Those nieces and nephews of mine have just raised the bar for future Iron Chef Competitions.



That’s Some Pig!

You will never guess what I found at our local thrift store.

I turned around and there he was – just looking up at me and smiling.

Thats Some PigIsn’t he cute!

As soon as I saw him I instantly knew what his destiny would be. It was such an amazing idea that even my kids knew my plans for this little porker as soon as they laid eyes on him.

This guy was becoming a practical joke.

You may remember that my crazy and amazing family loves a good joke and we have a few floating around the family.

You may also remember that my family gets together over Labor Day to celebrate Christmas as a family. (This works well for our busy schedules and nobody has to drive in bad weather.)

One of our traditions is to hold a Christmas gift exchange.

My brother-in-law loves to kid around and he can really dish it out – so when we drew his name for our Christmas gift exchange – I knew I wanted to do something crazy.

Are you following me here?

Yep. That 18 inch wooden swine became his Christmas gift! We wrapped it all up really nice and presented it to him at our gift exchange.

You should have seen his face when he opened it! Priceless!

He was a good sport and named the piglet and even carried him around for a while just like a part of the family!

But don’t worry – it wasn’t the only gift we gave him.

Gift cardIt turns out that this wooden piggy makes an awesome and rather unique gift card holder!

And knowing my brother-in-law as I do – this may become a gift that keeps on giving.

I have a feeling we will see this pig again!

This Little Piggy…

“This little piggy went to market,

This little piggy stayed home,

This little piggy had roast beef,

This little piggy had none.

And this little piggy made the family laugh

‘he he he’ all the way home!

Meet our family practical joke!

Okay – maybe I better explain.

You see, I have a rather eccentric aunt who has a habit of watching the shopping networks late at night. She tends to buy things – interesting things.

One of her most memorable purchases was an 18 inch plastic Bubble Bunny that moved in circles while playing “It’s a Small World” and blowing bubbles.  It terrified small children.

So a few years ago when she moved from her apartment and gave my mom several boxes of stuff, we really had no idea what to expect. My Mom went through all the boxes and then shared some things with my sisters and I. There were some nice things in those boxes that we split between us  – and then there were the pigs.

We were speechless as we gazed in amazement at the ceramic momma sow with several nursing piglets. Then we burst into laughter.

Hmm…which one of us wants to put a lactating pig on our mantel piece?! I’m country – but not that country!

The more we looked at it – the more we laughed!

I’m not sure at that point how the legend got started – but the piggies disappeared soon after  that only to reappear, all wrapped up and under the Christmas tree.

We had a good laugh at my sister’s shocked face when she opened them.

A practical joke was born.

That sister hid them away for awhile until everyone forgot about them, then rewrapped them and gave them to another sister at a birthday party.

That sister in turn, re-wrapped them and gave them to a brother-in-law, who re-wrapped them and gave them to another family member… and on and on the joke continued.

These little piggies have made an appearance at birthdays, Christmas gatherings, graduation parties, and, for the first time last weekend, at a Bridal Shower.

Since I was the last recipient of the piglets, it was my honor to choose the next home for the little piggies. I thought it was the perfect to way to welcome a new family member – to include them in a family tradition. So I wrapped them up and gave them to my niece at her bridal shower.

I know – I’m such a good aunt! 🙂 (And yes – I did give her a real gift as well!)

I think my niece was honored. I’m not so sure about her fiance!

I doubt that momma pig will ever grace the mantel at their new home – but from the glint in my niece’s eye – I’m sure our family joke will live on.

Hmm…I wonder who’s next?

Bridal Satin Memories

There’s “wedding” in the air!

With my parent’s 50th Anniversary Celebration coming up this week-end and my niece’s recent engagement – it seems like every family conversation involves weddings.

It’s making me a bit nostalgic. 🙂

But then spring always brings back memories – I starting dating Jan in the spring and he asked me to marry him a little over a year later.

When I heard about the super-romantical proposal my niece received – it made me wonder – how did Dad propose to Mom?

I remembered back to the afternoon when Jan proposed to me.

It was sweet.

It was simple.

It was Jan.

It was (and is) priceless.

But the proposal is just the beginning – then the wedding planning starts!

Fifty years ago my mom made her own wedding dress on her treadle sewing machine. She went on to make wedding dresses for all four of her daughters – me included.

Last week-end she cut into bridal satin once again as she started on my niece’s wedding dress.

I remember how exciting it was to see all that beautiful satin laying there – and knowing it was going to turn into the wedding dress I would wear down the aisle to marry the man of my dreams!

I’m sure my niece was as starry eyed as I – as she watched Mom lay out the material and pattern.

I know she was excited when she heard about the white Bible tradition!

When Mom got married she carried a small white Bible she received from her grandma. All of my sisters and I carried it with our bridal bouquets as well.  As soon as my niece heard the story – she was anxious to “carry” on the tradition.

I’m glad that in the midst of all this planning and excitement we have a weekend together to remember what all the fuss and preparations are about.

It’s about a man and a woman promising before God to love and honor each other till death do they part.

It’s not just about bridal satin and white Bibles – they are only the beginning – the celebration!

It’s really about the marriage.

The commitment.

My folks have kept it for 50 years.

Now that’s a tradition to pass on!

So How Do We Iron Chef?

One of our favorite family traditions is our Annual Iron Chef Competition at the Remix.

Since we are a family of foodies (people who love to read about, talk about, think about, make, and eat food) our very own Iron Chef Competition just makes sense.

Our rules are simple. The official judges (Nana and the grandkids) chose a secret ingredient and announce it a few weeks in advance. Any one – of any age – can enter as many entries as they wish.

The day of the event all of the entries are placed on a table, labeled and given a small plastic cup to hold the votes. Whenever we are all assembled and quiet (now that’s a major undertaking!), each chef shows their dish and describes the ingredients.

Our Iron Chef Dishes

Then we all go around the table taking samples of everything. We each have a small cup of M & M’s that we use for voting by putting them in the cups of our favorite dishes.

This year’s secret ingredient was apples.

We had everything from apple muffins to apple salads. We had apple brownies, apple snacks, and apple desserts. We even had apple butter pancakes!

Some of the amazing entries were:

Thick Skinned Apple

The simple: “Thick Skinned Apple” – an apple that was peeled, then peanut butter was used to re-apply the peel.

Chocolate Bars

The Chocolate: Caramel Apple Bars

Apple Salsa

The Unique: Apple Salsa

William Tell's Son Cake

The Artistic: A Rice Krispie sculpture of William Tell’s Son complete with apple and arrow!

It was a fun and delicious family activity!

Swedish Potato Sausage

Potato Sausage

Having married a man of Scandinavian descent with roots deep in Minnesota (the land of a thousand lakes and lutfisk), I have learned to appreciate and even enjoy certain traditional dishes.

Potato sausage is one of them!

This spicy combination of beef, pork and shredded potatoes is a filling and very economical dish.

Traditionally it is stuffed in sausage casings and boiled in hot water to serve. But if you, like me, don’t have sausage casings sitting around, just make them into patties and fry them.

We like to make a batch before Christmas and freeze the patties to enjoy all winter. Our favorite way to serve them is with waffles and hot applesauce on a cold, snowy winter night.

Swedish Potato Sausage

15 pounds potatoes, peeled
3 pounds onion, peeled
3 pounds boneless pork roast
3 pounds ground beef
1/3 cup flour
5-7 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons pepper
3 teaspoons allspice
1 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 – 3/4 cup milk

In a food grinder using the course disk, alternately grind the potatoes, onions and pork.

Combine with the ground beef, mixing well.

Combine all of the dry ingredients and sprinkle over the the meat and potato mixture. Add milk and mix well.

Stuff the sausages into casings or make into patties and freeze individually. (I like to lay them out on parchment lined cookie sheets in the freezer until they are frozen solid. Then I put them in zip lock bags to store in the freezer.)

This recipe makes about 20 pounds of sausage.  It can halved or cut into thirds, or even doubled or tripled if you have that much patience and potatoes!

Ja, Ja, is goot food.  Mange tak for stopping by.

Ha en god dag. (Have a good day – in Norwegian of course!)