The Robbins' Roost

A nesting place for the Robbins' family updates

One Great Quote

I heard this quote tonight while watching TV.  It is from the movie “We Bought a Zoo”, which I have not seen, but I loved the quote.  I thought I would share.

“All it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage and great things will happen.”

I think this will be my new mantra whenever I feel like things aren’t going the way I want them to.


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New Recipes

So, I love reading magazines about food.  I enjoy reading new recipes.  If a recipe sounds good or intrigues me, I pull it out of the magazine and put it into a binder that I have with my recipe books.  This binder has clear page protectors in it and I put the recipes in the page protectors by category.  So I have a protector for main dishes, side dishes, appetizers, etc.  About once a month, sometimes more, I go to that binder and pull out recipes to try.  I think of it as getting out of our “normal” rut and trying something different.  As we eat dinner, then I ask my husband and son to rate the recipe.  They get to help me decide if it is a keeper or not.  Even if I don’t think it is that great, if both of them like it, then I keep it.  This last week was my week of new recipe trials for January.  I tried 4 new recipes, 4 nights in a row.  One of the recipes was just for a different topping for baked potatoes.  Out of the 4 recipes, 3 were keepers.  I thought I would share one on my little blog today and will share another one in a couple days.  So here is the first new recipe:

Penne and Smoked Sausage


2 cups uncooked penne or medium tube pasta

1 pound smoked sausage or fully cooked kielbasa, cut into ¼ inch slices

1 ½ cups milk

1 can (10 ¾ oz) condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted

1 ½ cups cheddar French-fried onions, divided

1 cup (4 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

1 cup frozen peas


Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown sausage over medium heat for 5 minutes; drain.  In a large bowl, combine milk and soup.  Stir in ½ cup onion, ½ cup cheese, peas and sausage.  Drain pasta; stir into sausage mixture.

Transfer to a greased 9×13 baking dish.  Cover and bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.  Sprinkle with remaining onions and cheese.  Bake, uncovered, 3-5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

6 servings

This would be an easy dinner to make and put into 2 square casserole dishes.  Then you could either probably freeze one, or maybe give it to a friend or neighbor as a surprise dinner.

I served this dish with some glazed carrots and fruit.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.


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The Robbins Family

When we were together with Paul’s family we took some family pictures.  I thought I would share with the world to see what our 17 members of the Robbins family look like!  First we start with the “original” Robbins family.

Paul, Chad, Susan, PeeWee, Brad and Jenny

The Robbins Family Now – All 17 of us

Grandma and Grandpa with the Grandkids

Just the Grandkids

Paul (the oldest), Palmer and Me

Chad (one of the twins) with Saudi, Hayley and Ashlee

Brad (the other twin) with Dusty, Amanda and Seana

Jenny (the youngest) with Joe, Allison and Zachary

So, there is the Robbins Family!


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More Holiday Fun

So, on December 29th, we headed south to celebrate the holidays with Paul’s family.  We met the family in Kansas City, where Paul’s parents treated the whole family to a night at the Coco Key hotel with the indoor waterpark.  Both of Paul’s brothers and Paul’s sister were also there with their families.  The kids had a great time playing in the water and the adults enjoyed visiting.  Some of the adults got in the water too, but mostly we just enjoyed sitting and watching the kids.

My niece Allison

My nephew Zach

Palmer with his green goggles

Allison making a "big" splash

When everyone needed a break from the water, we headed over to the arcade.  Grandma and Grandpa Robbins had given each kiddo a card with credits for the arcade, so they were super excited to go play games.

My niece Hayley figuring out the game.

My brother-in-law Joe playing with Zach

Paul and Palmer figuring out what to play next.

Look how many tickets Allison won!!!!

Palmer figuring out the motorcycle game.

Palmer and Hayley "helping" my niece Ashlee with this game.

Allison playing air hockey.

It was a great time for everyone.  When the night was over and more swimming was done the next day, we headed back to Marshall, MO, where Paul’s parents still live.  We spent the weekend in Marshall and more pictures will follow later!


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My family left on Christmas Eve to head home and get out their cookies and milk for Santa.  We had a quiet afternoon with our annual traditions on Christmas Eve.  What are those traditions you ask?  After having supper, Palmer heads for the shower and gets into his pj’s, then we snuggle down with blankets and watch “The Polar Express” movie.  This has always been one of my favorite Christmas books and I was so excited when they made it into a movie.  The movie is so well made and has such a great message.  I love that it has become our Christmas Eve tradition.  After the movie is over, then it is time to get out cookies and milk for Santa.  This year Palmer basically did everything on his own, with Paul and I watching from the sidelines.  (Just makes me a little sad knowing how much he is growing up.)

The cookies and milk are ready for Santa.

We tell Palmer not to get out of bed on Christmas morning until 7am.  I guess you could call us “mean parents”, but that has just been the way we have done things.  So, at 7am, Palmer came in to make sure we were up and ready to head downstairs.  When we asked Palmer what time he “woke” up, he informed us he had woken up at 3:30a, went back to sleep, woke up at 4:30a, went back to sleep, woke up at 5:45a, went to the bathroom, went back to sleep, then woke up at 6:15a and laid in bed until 7a.  Love my kid!!!  So after Paul gave Palmer a hard time for about 10 minutes, we finally got out of bed and headed down to see if Santa had arrived.

The stocking was full!

A new Lego Wii remote

One of many Lego sets

New Hawkeye gear

Light up drum sticks - Palmer said, "Now I can practice in the dark!"

And even more Lego's

What could this last and biggest present be?

By the look on his face, it must be something good!

The one Lego set he really wanted and asked Santa for.

Palmer had a great Christmas and Santa even came through with that one Lego set Palmer really wanted!  Hope Christmas was good at your house too!


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The Holidays

Well, the holidays are technically over, but there was so much going on that I need to get this blog of mine updated.  So I will get started and hopefully get everything updated in the next week or so!  Here we go …

On December 22nd, my parents, brother, sister-in-law and nieces arrived at our house to celebrate Christmas.  It was a little hectic for a couple days, but we had a lot of fun!

The three amigos - Palmer, Vivian and Mia

Pulling apart the annual Christmas Crackers with Grandma!

So there were presents opened while in pj’s.  Then after everyone got dressed, the annual Christmas crackers were pulled apart, jokes told, crowns worn and everyone had a chance to just be silly!  Then, it was time for more presents …

New dogs for their American Girl Dolls

The Lego White House

New clothes

The Lego VW Camper Van - Palmer REALLY wanted this set!

My niece Vivian, who thinks she's a model, showing off her new hat!

Even though it was chilly outside, the kids went out and tried out Mia and Vivian’s new scooter type things called “Flying Turtles”.

Mia trying out her "Flying Turtle"



And the "Big Kid", my brother Tim!

It was a great time to be together.  We ate lots of great food and had lots of laughs!  Great memories were made and before we knew it everyone was on their way home to get their cookies out for Santa!

More later ….


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A Favorite Holiday Visit

We are very fortunate to live so close to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.  It is just 20 minutes away from our house.  Every year they have a display of Christmas trees that are decorated and each year the trees have a different theme.  We try to go over to the museum each year to see the trees.  This year the theme for the trees was fairy tales.  It was fun to look at each tree and try to guess which fairy tale the tree was decorated for before reading the sign next to it.  I thought I would share the trees with everyone!

The Aladdin Tree

The Hansel and Gretel Tree

The Jungle Book Tree

The Little Red Riding Hood Tree

The Paul Bunyan Tree

The Pinnochio Tree

The Rumplestiltskin Tree

The Snow White Tree

The Nutcracker Tree

The Three Little Pigs Tree

The Wizard of Oz Tree

We loved seeing all the trees, hope you did too!

Merry Christmas!



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Lots and Lots of Cans!

On our way home from Thanksgiving, we stopped in Moline, IL, so I could do a little shopping at the Isabel Bloom store.  Lucky for me, there is a John Deere Pavilion right across the street from Isabel Bloom that has a variety of different John Deere equipment displayed inside.  This year the marketing department for John Deere came up with an idea to build a S-Series Combine all out of cans of food.  So they did just that and it was on display at the pavilion.  The boys went over to check it out and when I was done shopping, I met them over there and checked it out myself.  It was really cool and I just thought I would share.

As you can see it was an impressive structure.  Here are some of the details John Deere provided about the sculpture:

– Volunteers built the sculpture completely of stacked containers of food.

– The combine is 16 feet tall, 80 feet long & 60 feet wide.

– More than 300,000 cans of food were used and it weighed 170 tons.

– It took 450 volunteers working around 64 hours to create the sculpture.

– When the sculpture is disassembled in December, the food will be donated to a local foodbank in the Quad Cities.

– There were regular sized cans, large cans, small cans and some bagged items.

I am so glad we decided to stop and glad we went in to check it out.



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Thankful – Final Entry

It is now officially December and I am not exactly sure how I feel about that.  I thought I would finish up my thankful entries from the last three days of November.

I am thankful for having a working oven – Considering I decided to start my holiday baking on Monday, and made 5 different kinds of bars along with a deep dish pizza for supper, I am glad my oven is working.  It didn’t get much of a break on Monday, and then I started it up again on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I am really, really thankful for an oven that is working.

Having knowledgeable sales people – At this time of year it seems like there are a lot of temporary sales people who don’t seem to know much about the store they are working in.  However, when I went to do some shopping on Tuesday and needed help with finding something or answering of questions, I must have hit all the sales people who have worked at the stores for more than just a week or so.  All the questions I asked were answered and items I needed to find were found.  There are times when frustration hits, especially at this time of the year, but when I am able to talk to knowledgeable sales people it makes shopping so much less frustrating!

Having the majority of my Christmas shopping done – I know there are a few things I still need to pick up, but the majority of the items I need to purchase are bought.  I even started wrapping the presents and it as I wrap that I will get the final idea of what I still need to pick up.  I really hate to shop in big crowds of people, so am glad I can pick up the last few things during the day in the stores when they are not so busy!

November has been a great month and I am thankful for everything that went on and happened during the month.  Now on to that month of December.  The month is always bittersweet because it seems to go “too fast” and I usually feel like I don’t have enough time to just enjoy the month.  I am going to try to take time each day this month and just enjoy – it may be something as small as sitting and looking at the decorated Christmas tree with Christmas music playing in the background, but I am going to try!

Have a great December!


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Thankful Week 4

Last week was Thanksgiving week, so here are the things I was thankful for:

The house being decorated for Christmas – We travel for Thanksgiving, so I try to put the Christmas decorations up the weekend before Thanksgiving.  It is so nice to have it done, especially when we get home from Thanksgiving and it is all done.  I don’t turn the lights on until we get home from Thanksgiving, but when we walk in the door after our travels I can turn the lights on and enjoy the decorations.

Having a great place for our dog to stay while we are gone – Cali stays at a place called Pearl’s Inn.  We are friends with the owner of the kennel, and she is also the one who grooms Cali.  Even if we weren’t friends with her and her partner Angie, I know that she would always take great care of Cali and it would be one thing we don’t have to worry about while we are gone.  Cali loves going to Kelly’s and she can’t wait to get out of the car when we get there.  It is so funny to watch her.

Having time for a pedicure – I got the luxury of being able to sit and get a pedicure from a wonderful lady named Chi.  She is at a nail place back home.  I wish she was here in the Iowa City area, because she does such a great job and she is so much fun to talk to.

A quiet Thanksgiving day that ended with a nice meal – Our Thanksgiving day was spent preparing food for the big meal we have on Friday.  Mom and I have the routine so down pat that we worked like a well oiled machine.  At the end of the day, we have a meal of steak and baked potatoes.  It is just my parents, Paul, Palmer and I, so it makes for a nice quiet meal.

Extended Family (all 20+ of them) – My mom’s family comes over to a Thanksgiving meal at my parent’s house on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  This year there were a total of 25 adults and children.  Sometimes extended family can get on a person’s nerves, but I just feel extremely fortunate to have that family.  It is really fun to just be able to sit and catch up with everyone.  There are usually lots of laughs.

Shopping with my mom and sister-in-law (even though it was raining) – Us three girls went out and did some small, local business shopping.  It was so nice to have the kids with the men.  We were able to take our time and really look around and things.  I love the small shops that have fun stuff.  Then the men took the kids to a movie, so when we got home, it was quiet.  What a nice way to spend the day.

An uneventful drive home from Illinois – The interstates were busy, but the drive home was uneventful.

A few more days this week of being thankful as the holidays start up.

Love –


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