Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Cookie Swap!

What: December Meal Swap
When: Wednesday, December 15th at 6:30 pm
Where: LHWC
Who: Nine fabulous women...you know who you are!

Please bring 6 cookies to swap per person (so...4 1/2 dozen if you are including yourself). They can be any cookie you enjoy baking for Christmas. Bring your cookies in a large container, and we will divide them up once we are all together.
Make sure you have a container to bring your cookies home in, and also, please bring one copy of your recipe. We'll put them on the table for everyone to check out. Be sure to bring paper and a pen if you want to copy someone's recipe. :)

If you have the time, and want to...feel free to bring a snack to share during the cookie swap. I will provide drinks, plates, cups, utensils. We'll visit, swap cookies, and celebrate the season!

Don't forget...comment on this post with the type of cookie you are baking so we don't have duplicates. Thanks everyone, and I am very much looking forward to next Wednesday!

A House to Warm...

The November Meal Swap brought us to Dana's beautiful new home!

Our group decided to throw a surprise housewarming party for Dana, and we chose the theme 'Warming the House'. Everyone brought creative gifts: warm food, warm scents, warm towels, warm decorations. It was a great party, and neat to see the useful, yet fun gifts. The women in the group, as always, made
delicious food to share, too.

Friends, snacks, celebrating, gifts, laughter, fun (and a freezer full of yummy meals)...a perfect way to "warm" a home. Thanks for hosting Dana!

"By home, we mean a place in which the mind can settle...a refuge to which we flee in the expectation of finding those calm pleasures, those soothing kindnesses, which are the sweetness of life." ~ James Bean

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Wedding Reception at the Meal Swap!

Want to know what inspired me to finish my wedding album? It wasn't the beautiful, half-filled, satin scrapbook sitting on my desk (for years), the disorganized shoebox of honeymoon/wedding photos, or the constant sticky note reminding me to "finish wedding album".

That very needed inspiration came from a group of wonderful friends! Our Meal Swap group decided to share photos and stories from the most important day a girl can have...her wedding day!

My husband, of nearly ten years, isn't the kind of guy who begs to browse through my scrapbooks, or comments on the glittery wedding bells decorating each page. Nope.
It's not that he doesn't think of our special day, or remember the details, it's just that my book of memories isn't something he requires. However, my mind works differently. I need to see the photos of my mom fixing that stubborn strand of hair escaping my veil, the rosy cheeked groomsmen sweating profusely in the three-digit heat, and the evening sun shining through stained glass windows. Those are details my mind won't let me see without the help of our photos.

Knowing the meal-swap night was approaching, I completed my wedding album and enjoyed reliving each moment of our wedding day as I pasted photos and wrote captions. I grew so ambitious, I actually completed our honeymoon album too! It was fun, and now I feel a little relieved. Almost like my mind can relax a little; I have photos and written stories now to help with forgotten details.
I can't tell you how happy it made me to see my husband smiling and laughing as he retold our wedding stories to our daughter as she browsed the pages of my completed album. Priceless.

The night of the mealswap brought that same wonderful feeling...seeing a roomful of friends laughing and smiling as we exchanged albums and told stories about our wedding day/honeymoon. I learned so much about the women sitting at the dining room table that night. Personally, it made me feel like I was a part of their wedding day; a behind-the-scenes guest at their special event. I now know stories about the groomsman's toast to the new couple, the special flower choices in the bride's bouquet, the small hometown church in which the ceremony took place, and the moment that started it all....the proposal.

Oh, and I can't end this post without mentioning the most delicious part of the evening...wedding reception food! An absolutely delicious wedding cake, complete with cake topper (thanks Susan!), a perfect wedding punch, nuts, and cream cheese mints in festive colors.
Reception treats are something we don't get a chance to enjoy very often, and definitely set the theme for our wedding-album meal swap!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cupcakes, Pajamas, and Nail Polish.

Our Meal Swap group has been experimenting with different themes for our meets. This month was a salute to our childhood days of pajama parties! Who doesn't love dressing comfortably, eating polka-dot cupcakes, and playing with fingernail polish? This girl does!
Sometimes life has a way of being too grown-up, serious, and busy. I can't remember the last time I actually painted my toenails!

As a result of this wonderful evening, I found it impossible to think about anything but friends, conversation, and laughter. The to-do list and stresses that normally occupy my brain-space were temporarily evicted!

I will speak for myself because I know many of my friends are already much better at this than me, but, I think this pajama party was more than a really fun evening. It was a reminder to the 'grown-up me' to appreciate the little things. It was a way to learn more about the women in my life and their own struggles and joys.

This pajama party experience makes me wonder what kinds of world issues could be solved with snacks, cute pajamas, and a few bottles of vividly colored nail polish. Ok, while that might be a stretch, you have to admit, it's fun to imagine our world leaders having a big pajama party at a UN meeting...

Monday, June 28, 2010

The People Living in Your Catalog

Ever wonder why the beautiful bed-set in the Pottery Barn catalog must be accompanied by an unraveling ball of twine, or why the new patio set is simply uninviting without a plate of fruit set underneath a nearby table?
Well, I never actually cared about such things until now. The author of this blog http://catalogliving.tumblr.com/page/2 writes hilarious captions to everyday pictures cut from catalogs. I guess I've never noticed exactly how staged, and ridiculous some catalogs make their merchandise in order to sell it. Downright impractical! She uses fictional characters, Elaine & Gary, to point out the odd items in the photos.
If you have time, and feel (or need!) a laugh...I would highly recommend this blog. I will never look at a catalog the same way again.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Meal Swap Gold Mine!

A friend recently baked up a bunch of meals for a family member who was welcoming a new baby home. In her search for meals that could be easily frozen and reheated, she came across this website http://www.freezehappy.com.
I am ashamed to admit how much time I have spent this morning browsing the recipes, tips, and looking at the enticing photos. I am already finding recipe ideas to cook for our family, and maybe include in our next meal swap. Enjoy the site!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Couponing to Disney!

Our friend Heather M. sent me a link to a great site:

Couponing to Disney is a blog written by a woman who is finding creative ways to save money in order to send her family on a Disney vacation. The link above will direct you to a recent post about a meal swap group she has joined. She has some good ideas, and maybe our group can talk about some of them at our next swap (six different meal categories).

She has also posted wonderful coupon resources, as well as a section I found particularly helpful...Under $1 at Target and Under a $1 at Walmart. This section of her blog lists hundreds of items which either free, or under $1 at the two stores!

Thanks for the link, Heather!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Recipes for Kids and a Budget!

My very dear mother-in-law has been buying our family a subscription to Taste of Home magazine for years now. No doubt it all began after Justin and I were married, and my idea of a balanced home-cooked meal was a box of hamburger helper, or a really tasty cheese sandwich!
I love opening the mailbox to find my copy of TOH, and especially enjoy browsing the magazine pages full of delicious recipes. I always gain new knowledge about cooking, and add great new recipes to my collection.
Enough about the magazine, and on to the juicy information:
On the TOH website there are many recipes for children (healthy alternatives, and easy to prepare), as well as a section for budget meals. I browsed the budget meal recipes, and some of them look really good. Here is the link if you are interested. Most of the recipes are free to access; only a few require an account log-in.


Happy Browsing!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Exchange of Yummy Things!

Well, our first meal swap has officially come and gone! What a delightful evening. Personal reflection: Not only was I able to share in conversation with a group of incredible women, but we also laughed so much my stomach is happily aching as I type this post.

I think Cervantes said it best, "It is a true saying that a man must eat a peck of salt with his friend before he knows him".
In this case it was women, and maybe a peck of sugar, but the sentiment remains the same. There is so much we can learn, and enjoy from each other simply by gathering informally. A cooler full of metal pans and plastic wrap (yes neighbors...that's what was in there! Ha!) invited such wonderful exchanges between friends. Thank you.

Oh, and if you are curious about the health benefits of laughter....check out this website:

Our next Madison M & M's gathering will be June 16th at 7:00 pm, and will include fondues.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Our household received the most recent edition of the Dakota Drug coupon booklet last week. Among the many tempting gadgets and goods in the booklet is a coupon for $1.19/roll aluminum foil. This seems like a pretty good buy, and something we Madison M & M's might find a good use for.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Of Hammers, and Grocery Carts...

This past weekend, I discovered a terrific way to spend time with the family, and achieve a marathon grocery shopping trip. Impossible? Maybe. But with help from the good folks at Lowes, we managed it!

Justin took Anna to a "Build and Grow" workshop at the Lowes in Brookings. All we had to do was pre-register her online, and show up for the fun! Because I am not the best planner, we actually registered for the workshop the night before. Here's the link to get started: https://www.lowesbuildandgrow.com/. Be aware though, they do fill up quickly, and I think we lucked out this time. Oh, and....IT'S FREE!!!!!

Anna and Justin built a little schoolhouse (perfect for Polly Pockets, we discovered), and I took Grace next door to Walmart for some mother-daughter grocery shopping. Believe it or not, Grace actually enjoys riding in the cart solo, squeezed between cartons of milk, and huge packages of toilet paper.

Since Justin despises grocery shopping almost as much as Anna does, it was a perfect opportunity for him to share something he enjoys with her, and gave me a much more relaxed grocery shopping experience with Grace. The workshop took about an hour, and that was just enough time for me to do some serious damage to our grocery budget.
We each spent some fun one-on-one time with the girls. The best part? Anna has a little school house she is super proud of, and she got to use nails, hammers, and be around other kids. Grace had fun seeing all the people, trinkets, and toys at Walmart. (Ok, now that I read this aloud, the thought of surrounding Anna with other children holding nails, and hammers is frightening! Thank goodness Daddy was there!)

Welcome to the Madison M&M's

We want to use this blog to share recipes, coupons, ideas, sales, local family activities: anything that might be interesting to us as women and Madison Moms. Please feel free to post to this blog any questions or suggestions.

We're excited to announce our first Meal Swap, May 12 at 7pm (tentative). So far, there are four of us, but we're looking forward to growing in the future.