Wednesday, November 23, 2011

One Spoiled Puppy...

Our little puppy Miles is almost 2.  I can't believe it!  However, the great thing about this particular kind of dog is that they look like puppies forever.  And she still does.  But this little puppy is spoiled to the point where I think she thinks she is a human.  She has no regard for personal space and will sleep just about anywhere... and someone is always tucking her in or holding her like a baby... Take a look...







Wouldn't you spoil her too looking at THAT face???

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lion House Roll Yumminess...

I had never attempted to make bread from scratch before I moved to Utah.  To be honest, making bread seemed a little scary to me and way time consuming and my thought was "why on earth would I make bread or rolls when I can just run over to the store and bring some home from there?!?!"  Well after going to several homes for dinner where the rolls were MADE instead of BOUGHT, I began to see why someone would put extra effort in to making them.  There is probably nothing better than a homemade roll fresh out of the oven with butter and jam. 

So I decided, what the heck... I will give it a try.  I quickly found that not only did the final product make it worth it, but the actual making of the rolls was extremely therapeutic for me!  There is something about being in the kitchen rolling and cutting and inhaling the heavenly sent of the dough or the rolls in the oven that just makes me happy.  Now I have tried a few recipes now, but my favorite ones to make are the Lion House Rolls... I think it may have something to do with the way you cut and flip them.  Take a look at this fantastic video of the Lion House Head Baker showing you how to do it just like they do...




Before watching this video, cutting and shaping was the most frustrating part of the process to me... but I LOVE how you can just roll one big rectangle and then cut it up in to little rectangles and not have any waste or have to re-roll or anything.  And the whole flipping thing??? Well it's just plain fun!!!  I even got Miss Dee to do it with me the other day and we had a grand time.
These rolls are seriously famous here in Utah. You can buy them at some Deseret Book stores and The Lion House Pantry itself, but Lion House has also generously shared this recipe so anyone can make them at home!  Here it is:

Ingredients:
2 cups warm water
2/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk
2 Tb. dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup shortening, butter or margarine  (I put mine in the microwave for 15-20 secs to soften it)
1 egg
5-5 1/2 cups all purpose flour

(Note:  I use my Kitchen Aid mixer for this recipe and it works perfectly.) 

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the water and the milk powder and stir so the milk dissolves. Add the yeast to this mixture then the sugar, salt, shortening, egg and 2 cups of the flour. Mix on low speed of mixer until ingredients are wet, (I use my paddle/flat beater for this part), then turn to medium speed and mix for 2 minutes.

Stop the mixer, (I switch to my dough hook attachment at this point), and add 2 more cups of flour then mix on low speed until the ingredients are wet, then turn mixer on medium speed and mix for 2 minutes. The dough will be getting stiff and you may need to remove the bowl from the mixer and mix in the remaining flour by hand. Add approximately 1/2 cup of flour and mix again. (This can be done by hand or mixer). The dough should be soft, not overly sticky, and not stiff. (It is not necessary to use the entire amount of flour). (I use closer to 5 cups.)

Scrape the dough off the sides of the bowl and pour approximately one tablespoon of vegetable oil all around the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough over in the bowl so it is covered with the oil. (This helps prevent the dough from drying out.) Cover with plastic and allow to rise in a warm place until double in size.  (About 1 hour.)

Sprinkle a cutting board or counter with flour and put the dough on the flour. It is now ready to roll out and cut into desired shape and size of rolls.

(In the video they rolled in to the big rectangle and then brushed the whole rectangle with butter before cutting and flipping.  She said to make sure the butter was on the inside, so this is how I did it.)

Place on greased (or parchment lined) baking pans. Let rise in a warm place until the rolls are double in size (approx. 1-1 1/2 hours).

Bake in a 375-degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until they are browned to your satisfaction. Brush with melted butter while hot. Yields 2 to 2 1/2 dozen rolls.  (I actually got 42, but I had a much bigger rectangle so I must have rolled them out thinner than they do... but they were the PERFECT size for us for dinner and we had plenty to share.)



Yes, those are MY rolls... me, who has never been a bread maker, so if I can do it, YOU can do it! 

Helpful Roll Tips from the Lion House Pantry:

Always add the flour gradually and keep the dough as soft as you can handle.

Don't feel you have to use the entire amount of flour listed in the recipe -- add only enough flour to make a manageable dough.

A soft dough will produce a lighter roll.

Brush the top of the rolls with butter when they are first taken from the oven.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Oh My, Chocolate Chip Pie...

The only way I can describe this recipe is "A little slice of Heaven".  Think almost a pecan pie texture, but with chocolate chips and walnuts.  It is so deliciously rich, but sooooooooooo easy to make.  I ran across this recipe on Pinterest, (my new favorite hobby), from A Little Bit Crunchy A Little Bit Rock n' Roll, who adapted it from Nestle, and when I saw the picture I KNEW it was something I had to make IMMEDIATELY! 

Ingredients:

1 unbaked pie shell (I used a Pillsbury pie crust from the refrigerated section of the grocery store and just gently pressed it in to my pie pan.)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
3/4 cup (1 & 1/2 sticks) softened butter
1 cup of chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts, but pecans would be yummy too!)

Preheat your oven to 325° F.

Beat the 2 eggs in your mixer on high speed until foamy. Beat in your flour.  Beat in the sugar and brown sugar. Beat in your softened butter. Once it is all combined well, stir in the chocolate chips and the chopped up nuts, then spoon the mixture in to your pie shell!  Um, yes... that is it!!!!

Throw it in your preheated oven and bake it for 50 to 60 minutes.  (I took mine out at 50.)  The top will be crispy, but the inside of the pie will oozing with ooey gooey deliciousness.  Try to cool on a wire rack.  (I think mine got about 10 minutes before the fam dived in to it.) 




I topped my piece with cool whip... but I imagine any cream, ice-cream, or whipped topping would be good with this.  It helps cut the richness a little in my opinion.  This pie is definitely as good as you think it's going to be...

(BTW, If the only ingredient you are missing is a pie crust, go on over here and try out Jennifer's "No Roll Pie Crust".)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Quest For The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie...

I have found it!  Well, actually it was brought to me... but as soon as I sunk my teeth in to these cookies I knew this would be the recipe I would use forever more.  I have been looking for a chocolate chip cookie recipe that "works" since I arrived in Utah.  (Darn altitude.)  I will be looking no further.  This recipe uses shortening instead of butter... that means the cookies don't go flat and overly crispy around the edges.  They are soft and moist but with a perfect crunch on the outside.  My dear, sweet, new Relief Society President brought some over to me and was sweet enough to share the recipe.  (Thank you Shelly!)  I am calling them simply:

"The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie"

1 cup shortening (I used butter flavored.)
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp hot water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
*1 pkg chocolate chips (I used 12 oz)


Cream the shortening and sugars.  Add eggs, hot water and vanilla and beat well.  Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together and mix in to cookie dough.  Add the chocolate chips.  Drop by teaspoonfuls on your cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.  Bake at 350 for 11 mins.


*The possibilities are pretty much endless with these... We threw in mini Reese's Pieces in one batch, peanut butter chips in another.  You could do white chocolate macadamia nut, chocolate pecan, all you would need to do is change the add in!

Some helpful tips:
  • Invest in a cookie scoop.  They are about $3 and look like mini ice cream scoops.  They make sure all your cookies are the same size so they cook evenly.
  • Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. This ensures no cookies stick to the pan and the bottoms of the cookies don't get too brown!  (Parchment paper can be re-used a few times... I just flip it over each time I use it and discard it at the end of my baking session.)
  • Let your cookies sit a minute or so before removing them from the baking sheets.  This lets them firm up just a little so they don't break.  (On the other hand, don't leave them on too long because they keep cooking.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Mike & Mike..

A couple of weeks ago hot hubby turned 40.  His cell phone was lit up for days with "old" jokes from friends and family.  It was very entertaining... well at least for me. ;)  For an old fart he sure does take good care of himself.  Personally, I find him more handsome today than I did the day I married him.  He has already completed P90X and Insanity so for his birthday he asked for Insanity Asylum.  (Who does that?)  But hey... whatever makes him happy.  I just hope he doesn't expect me to do it with him.  One of the things I love best about Mike Sr is the way he interacts with people.  He is so good at talking to people and he takes special care and concern, especially with the elderly, which is probably why he is so good at his job.  He genuinely loves and cares for people.  It's an endearing quality.  Happy Birthday Sweetie. :)


Last week Jr turned 15.  The little snot waited till the night before to study for his learners permit so I was sure we were safe... there was no way he was going to pass.  Sr told me it took him all of 7 minutes to complete the test and he passed with flying colors.  My stomach is still in my throat from the first time I drove with him.  He only ate the curb once and that was because a car was coming towards him and he tried to get as far right as possible.  Luckily he can't drive alone for a year.  That will give him lots of practice. :)  This boy is already 6 feet tall.  The doctor who saw his growth plates said he still has a lot of growing to do... I think he is already the tallest person in our entire family as no-one that I know of has ever grown over 6 feet on either of our sides.  The thing I love best about Mike though is his sense of humor.  This boy will make you laugh with his comments and impressions.  Below is a little clip of his Bear Grylls impression that he sent to me from school one day when I needed cheering up... maybe it's just because he is my son, but this totally makes me snort.  Happy Birthday Mikey :)


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Homecoming...

Dee had homecoming last week.  Here are a couple of pics...  Is this girl gorgeous or what????

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Scone Success!!!

I found it!  A delicious recipe for scones that Dee LOVES.  (And that is no exaggeration.)  I have to admit... I was a little sneaky, because I played to her weakness by choosing blueberries.  I also picked this particular recipe because it uses sour cream which I knew would make them moist and not dry like some scones.  After they had come out of the oven, I had the perfect scone picked out for the picture... it was bursting with blueberries and looked absolutely perfect.  But of course, by the time I had run upstairs to get my camera Dee had already found and eaten half of it... so this one will have to do!



Here is the recipe I used that I found in the Worldwide Ward Cookbook Secret Recipes Cookbook (compiled by Deanna Buxton)


Giant Blueberry Sour Cream Scones

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (It says you can just increase the vanilla to 1 teaspoon if you don't have this on hand, but the almond added lovely flavor!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (I had to add about 1/4-1/2 cup extra flour to the dough because it was way too sticky to make a round... Just add by teaspoons till you can get it to come together... you don't want it to be dry.)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup very cold butter cut into small cubes (I cut mine at the beginning and put the bowl in the freezer to keep them cold till I needed them... )
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Vanilla glaze (The recipe says it's optional, but in my opinion, this is definitely not optional!)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¼ cup heavy cream (I had none, so I just used milk and it worked great, but I'm sure the cream would make this even more divine.)
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla or almond extract (We LOVED the almond)
Directions

  • Set oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease.
  • In a small bowl blend the sour cream with the egg, vanilla and baking soda; set aside while making the rest of the recipe.
  • In a large bowl mix together the flour with sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt and cinnamon.
  • Using a pastry blender cut in cold butter cubes. 
  • Add in the sour cream mixture; mix JUST until moistened.
  • Gently mix in the fresh blueberries.
  • Roll or pat the dough into about a 1 to 1-1/2-inch thick round. (Next time I will divide the dough into two circles and make smaller ones... these really were GIANT!)
  • Cut dough into 12 even wedges.  (Next time I will do 24)
  • Place the wedges onto the prepared baking sheet about 2-inches apart.
  • Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the the bottoms are browned.
  • Soak Drizzle the top of each warm scone with glaze
These scones were soft, moist and melt in your mouth delicious.  Plus they were pretty darn easy!  (If I can make them, anyone can.)  The only thing that would have made these better is if I had had clotted cream and jam to put on them... seriously... they are really good! 

Dee ate TWO of them one right after the other... actually made herself sick.  Her friend Kyle said "This is seriously the best thing I have ever eaten."  That is pretty high marks folks!  Give them a try and see what you think. :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dee...

It's been a very long time, but she sang for a 50th anniversary party this weekend...


Friday, June 24, 2011

The Scone Experience...

I have learned only only in the last year or two that there are two different kinds of scones.  In England, a scone is more of a cakey or American biscuit texture... it could be plain, it could have fruit mixed in to the batter, it's not overly sweet but it's melt in your mouth delicious and in my opinion, it is absolutely best when served with clotted cream and jam.  It might look something like this...


or now-a-days they can be cut into triangle shapes like this...


But here in Utah, they also have "scones" that look like this...


I'm not sure if this is a Utah thing or if they call them this around the country, but I've only heard of these being referred to as scones since living here... I have always known this more as "fry bread" and they are served with butter and honey or sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Now don't get me wrong... both are extremely yummy.  You just crave different things at different times you know?  And a couple of nights ago, I was seriously craving the more traditional English scones and I did NOT want to try and make any.  So I was telling Dee what I wanted, and she got to wanting something fruity too, so she popped over to Walmart to get something to try and satisfy our cravings, (like a turnover, maybe).  However, while she was there in the bakery department, she called me to tell me that she found a little box of mini cranberry & orange scones.  Yay!  I was so excited! 

So she brought them home and I bit in and it was pretty good... not home-baked yummy of course, or made-in-England yummy, but it was good enough to satisfy my craving and I was happy.

Dee says she wants to try one.  She has never had a scone before.  (I know, what a horrible English mother I am to have never made them for my kids.)  So she grabs one and bites in to it but then hands it back to me immediately with a horrid look on her face.

"Ew... that tastes like paint!" she says.

Um... PAINT???  What the heck?  Who even knows what paint tastes like???  And if you did, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't taste like SCONES!

So now I'm totally bothered that this was her first scone experience and she thinks they are gross and taste like paint.  Consequently, I'm on a mission.  This weekend I am going to try and make something like THESE from scratch... 

And she IS going to try them... and I will continue to make them until we find one that she likes... don't worry, I'll keep you posted! :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

My New Favorite...

I am in loooooooooove... with my new piece of furniture!  Cari from Homemaker Is Not A Dirty Word did a giveaway, and what an incredible giveaway it was!  If you won you got to pick from three beautiful pieces of furniture and she finished it for you how you wanted it.  I know right????  I didn't really think I had a chance, but I had to enter and try and I was soooooooooooo ecstatic to hear that I won! 

I wasn't sure how I wanted my piece finished... all I knew was that I wanted it black or antique white so that it would match anywhere I put it, so I left it up to Cari and her creative genius.  Well Cari brought it over Saturday night and can I tell you... it is the most amazing piece of furniture in my house.  I am absolutely 100% in love with this hutch.  It feels like Cari looked in to my head and created this perfect little piece of heaven for my home. 

I am not the only person in my house that loves it either.  I didn't even have to think about where to put this piece because my 14 year old son loved it so much that he threw my entryway table up the stairs and replaced it with the hutch himself. 

I'll be changing the stuff he put in and on it, but just so you can see how stinkin' cute it is... here is a pic. 


If you want to see more, better pics... you can go over and check out the ones Cari took on her blog. And be sure to follow her.  She has the coolest ideas and is VERY talented.  THANK YOU CARI!!!!!!! :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

We Like-a The Greek...

I have been to Greece twice in my life and it is my absolute favorite country that I have ever visited (other than England of course).  I have clear memories of visiting the Acropolis in Athens where we walked around the ruins of the Parthenon and down the many steps of the Theatre of Dionysus.  I remember my little sister Jenna and I racing on the track where the first Olympics were held in Olympia and getting on boats and buses to visit other amazing parts of the Greek islands with my Mum and Dad.

It may not surprise you to hear though, that my most vivid memories are of the food!  I remember seeing spits of lamb being roasted vertically and eating meat that was freshly carved off of it... and eating Greek Salad with lettuce, tomatoes, olives and feta cheese at the Greek Tavern with grapes hanging down all around from the garden arches. Oh, the flavors... dolmathes, spanakopita, moussaka, gyros, souvlaki, baklava... my mouth waters just thinking about it all... was it any wonder that one of the first things I made for my hubby when we got married was authentic Greek moussaka?  I thought he would just HAVE to love it. It took me two hours to make that dinner... and he wouldn't even try it!!!!

Ah well, he has broadened his culinary horizons since then quite a lot and he likes Greek food too thanks to our two favorite Greek restaurants from back east... Chef Theo's and Greek Village.  These restaurants were owned and run by Greeks so they served served authentic Greek cuisine.  No Americanized chain restaurant food served here!  One of our favorites has always been the gyro's or souvlaki served on Mediterranean flat bread. 

So this week we decided to try and re-create the Greek flavors I crave and attempt our own Souvlaki here at home.  I looked at many different recipes for a Greek marinade and tzatziki but ultimately I decided to try the ones from Our Best Bites, because I always love their recipes AND I absolutely adore the photographs... the food always looks so perfectly good.  So I whipped up a batch of their Greek Dressing/Marinade.  I knew this was going to be a good choice because it had freshly squeezed lemon juice, oil, parmesan cheese, cracked black pepper and minced garlic... all the key flavors for me.  Once the marinade was together, I cubed up boneless pork loin, poured half the marinade over it, (reserve the other half for drizzling later), and let it sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour.


While that was marinating, I threw together the tzatziki.  You can't have souvlaki without tzatziki.  I'm pretty sure it is illegal. ;)  I prefer the English cucumbers over the regular ones for this recipe, because they aren't covered in wax, so you don't have to peel them if you don't want to, and there are a LOT less seeds... so you don't have to seed them if you don't want to... but that's my preference...


Once the meat is good and marinated, throw it on the skewers and grill it about 3-4 minutes on each side... till it looks kind of like this...


Now make sure you picked up some gooooooooooood flat bread... Regular pita pockets just don't cut it.  I personally like these...


...but any flat bread will do. Brush the bread lightly with olive oil and grill them for just 30 seconds or so on each side... till they are warm and just starting to crisp.  Now place a flat bread on a plate and drizzle it with a little of the left over dressing/marinade.  Top it with the pork off of one of the skewers then add shredded romaine lettuce, chopped onion, halved grape tomatoes, kalamata or black olives and tzatziki.  Then drizzle a little more dressing and sprinkle feta cheese over the top. 


I'm not gonna lie... this is pretty heavenly... It's gonna make you want to smash your plate on the floor and shout "OPA!!!!" when you are done. :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Black Thumb Of Death...

I am a TERRIBLE gardener.  I have never been able to get anything to grow nicely.  Anyone who knows me will tell you that I can't even keep plants in my house alive.  I have the black thumb of death. :(  Last year I thought I might succeed when I bought just three simple bushes and some marigolds to plant outside the front of the house, however, around the same time one of our neighbors dug up their yard and we got voles.  Those little nasties ate every stinkin' bush and plant right down to the roots leaving only the tags that I had left on the bushes!

Well, we got rid of the vole problem and this year I decided to try one more time... I decided that I would plant rose bushes and daisies... because I love them both and they looked to be pretty low maintenance and should continue to bloom year after year.

I wasn't expecting to see any actual roses on the bushes this year, so when I counted 8 buds between the three bushes the other day, I was pretty dang excited.  Then this morning I found this...


And in between the rose bushes, we have these...




Now I just have to hope and pray that the kids in the neighborhood who did this to my tulips a month ago...




...will leave my Roses and Daisies alone! :(

Friday, June 3, 2011

Oooo La La Mac & Cheese...

Actually, I don't know if you can technically call this "MAC & Cheese".  I have always preferred penne or rigatoni noodles to macaroni noodles because they are bigger... so the cheese melts all around and inside of them... and when you bite in to it, the cheese squirts out in your mouth and for that moment you think you have died and gone to heaven...  So NO little macaroni noodles in this house!

Warning, this recipe is not really Weight Watchers friendly, (this big pan I put at 12 servings and each serving is 13 points), but I have to indulge my fam every now and then and this is my kids absolute favorite meal that I have been making since they were little.  I'm not a fabulous cook in any measure of the word, but when I make this for dinner you would think that I had served them a gourmet four course meal.  Hearing them "oooooh" and "mmmmm" for the 15 minutes we are eating makes me one happy mama.  :)

So here is the catch... I have been making this for SOOOOOOOOOOO long and I don't use a recipe and I don't measure anything.  So here are the ingredients and my best guesstimation for the amounts... (And by the way, this makes a TON!)

24 oz rigatoni or penne pasta (or one 12oz box of each)
1/2 stick butter or marg (4 Tbsp)
2-3 Tbsp cornstarch
4 cups milk
16oz SHARP cheddar cheese (I just use the bags of pre-shredded)
1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard (IMHO, this is the key to any good mac & cheese, so don't leave it out)
Dash of salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
8-12oz shredded three cheese blend

Cook your pasta in lightly salted boiling water for aprox 8-10 minutes... you don't want it all the way cooked because it is going to continue to cook in the oven. 

While your pasta is cooking you start by making a basic white bechamel sauce... (If you have never heard of this, it is a french white sauce that can be used as is or as the base for many sauces depending on what you add to it... I use it as the base for cheese sauce, alfredo sauce, sausage gravy... you name it!)

Make a roux, (pronounced "roo"), by melting the butter in a large saucepan till frothy and then stirring in the corn starch.  (It will look like a thick yellow paste.)  Let it cook for a couple of minutes then whisk in the milk, (four cups or enough to fill the saucepan 1/3 to 1/2 the way full), salt and pepper.  Keep whisking until the sauce starts to thicken.  (For basic bechamel you would just add a pinch of nutmeg here, but for this cheese sauce I leave that out.)

When you feel the sauce start to thicken, add the 16oz of shredded sharp cheddar and the mustard and whisk until it's all melted and smooth.  By now your pasta should be cooked.  Drain it and return it to the big pot and pour the heavenly melted cheesiness all over it.  Try not to just eat the noodles out of the pan at this point because it smells soooooooooooo good and you will practically be drooling.

I like to use one of the disposable lasagna pans for this dish, because it is slightly bigger than a 13x9 and this fits in there perfectly.  (Plus they are 2/$1 at the dollar store and you can just toss it when you are done.)  Spray it with pam and pour HALF the pasta mixture into the pan.  Now here is the secret... sprinkle that half of the pasta mixture with half of the three cheese blend, then pour the remaining pasta mixture over the top and repeat with the other half of the three cheese blend.

VoilĂ !  Now how easy was that???  Your dinner will look like this before you bake it...



My kids are usually begging to steal noodles out of it by this point, but tell them no!  Now throw it in a 425 degree oven for 20-25 mins.  You want it bubbly and golden on the top and just starting to crisp on the edges... like this...

 

Hmmm... I couldn't decide which pic I liked better... they both make my mouth drool... so you get another one... 



Now dish it up and be the hero.  You deserve it! :)


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Spontaneity...

We spent Sunday night out and about visiting family and friends so by the time we got home at 10:45pm we were absolutely starving!  You should have seen the initial looks I got when I suggested that we grill some burgers, but since we didn't have school or work on Monday the fam quickly agreed that it might be fun.  By the time we got to bed it was way past midnight but we had a blast sneaking outside and trying to be quiet as mice so we wouldn't wake our neighbors.  We then pulled out anything out of the fridge that might be considered a burger topping and munched down while watching Everybody Loves Raymond.  It really is the little things that beautiful memories are made of. :)


Friday, May 20, 2011

The Crafty Side Of Me...

Ha ha, I don't have a crafty side!  But I have been spending some time doing scrapbooking layouts and cards over the past month...  Thank heavens for Brandie and her Close To My Heart nights once a month, because otherwise I would have never had the ability or the patience to make beautiful homemade cards like these...




If you live close, you should come join us!  It's way fun. :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happy Mothers Day...

Ya, ya... I know I'm late... But I love my Mum very much and we had a brilliant Mothers Day at her house... even got a couple of pictures this time since they have a killer view from their deck...






I can't even remember the last time we got a pic of all of us together... and yes, my son is taller than me.  (And that is saying something since I am 5'10").  Hope you had a lovely Mothers Day too! :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Wingers Chicken Recipe...



Last week we went to a work picnic so that Mike Sr could put some faces to names of some of the people he talks to in his part time Home Health job.  While there I got to talking to one of the office ladies about recipes, and she told me this simple way to make imitation Wingers sauce.  I absolutely adore Wingers, but have been trying to eat healthier and so I thought grilling boneless skinless chicken breast and then using some of the sauce over it might be a better option for me than actually going to the restaurant.

To make the sauce you just simply put 1/3 cup franks hot sauce, 2 Tbsp water and 1 & 1/2 cups of brown sugar in a saucepan, and bring to a boil for a couple of mins till the sugar is completely dissolved.  (The sauce will thicken slightly as it sits after you remove it from the heat).

To grill our chicken, I put about half the sauce aside in a separate bowl to keep it uncontaminated from raw chicken and poured the rest over the chicken to marinate for about 30 minutes.  Hubby threw the chicken on the grill and cooked it to perfection, then we served the chicken with the reserved sauce from the separate bowl on the side for dipping/drenching.  Can I tell you that my family could just not get enough of this???  It will be a family regular for sure this summer!

I used the franks buffalo sauce this first time and it was on the spicy side, (which we LOVE).  I think the plain hot sauce is not quite as spicy, so give them both a try and see which one you prefer. :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

*Sigh*...

Ugh. Sometimes life is just hard!  Now I really am not complaining here because trust me, I know there are others who have it so much tougher, but today was positively one of the crappiest days I have had in forever!  It was one of those days that I kept thinking... "It can't possibly get any worse", but then... "Really?  Are you FREAKIN' KIDDING ME????".  It did.  Over and over and over again.  I literally wanted to crawl in to bed and just go to sleep. I even asked someone to please shoot me in the @$$, because really that is only a flesh wound but it would at least get me home for the day!
I won't bore you with the details, but I will tell you that I felt tried and tested and am still feeling pretty bitter about some things.  However, there is a story I try to remember when I am situations such as these...

One day, a man went to the Lord and said, “Help me, Lord….I can’t take this suffering anymore. Please give me a different cross to bare.” So, our gentle Lord said, “Come with me.” All of a sudden, the man and the Lord were standing in a huge room with every kind of cross imaginable. Some were small, some large, others beautiful, some ugly, etc…..The Lord said to the man, “Now you look around and pick out whichever cross you’d like to carry.” Happily, the man searched and searched and finally found the smallest, lightest, most beautiful one. He said to the Lord, “Lord, Lord, I will take this one.”  The Lord just smiled and said, “My dear child, that is the same cross you came in with.”


God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Slow And Steady Wins...

I had my first follow up appointment with my Dr and can I tell you I literally wanted to jump for joy!

First, my beginning numbers from February:

Triglycerides: 1399.  Yes, that is NOT an typo.  They are supposed to be under 200, but mine were 1399.
Total Cholesterol: 231 (It should be under 199)

I had my blood work re-done after 6 weeks of being off that horrible medication and doing Weight Watchers.  Bear in mind I barely did any exercise during this time at all.  (Mike Jr had surgery and my life has been a bit crazy.)  Additionally, I completely forgot about my blood work needing drawn till 8pm the night before when the fasting alert went off on my phone, so I did not get to be extra careful for the couple of days before. Ha ha. 

My new results: (Drum roll please...)

Triglycerides: 330 (that is a difference of 1069 people... still gotta get them lower, but hey, it's working!)
Total Cholesterol: 172 (59 points down)
Weight Loss:  17 pounds. (And actually, as of today I am now down 21 pounds.)

My doctor said she never would have believed it if she had not seen it for herself.  That medication has officially been put on my list of things I am allergic to and they have put me on a different medication, though I am staying at the lowest dose possible. 

So I now have three months to get my tri's below 200 so I don't have to go on any cholesterol medication.  I think I can do it.  It says that it can take up to 6 months for this particular medication to get completely out of your system, so that is continuing to purge.  Plus I am now adding exercise in to my routine to help speed up the weight loss and firm up.

I can't tell you how good I feel.  Also, I absolutely adore Weight Watchers and can see me being on this for the rest of my life.  My good friend Brooke put it best when she said that honestly, it is just living the Word Of Wisdom to its fullest!  It's all about moderation and making good choices and limiting treats and I don't feel deprived at ALL.  If anyone is struggling, I really recommend it.

Today I started "Insanity".  (Hubby bought it since he completed P90X and wanted a change up.)  I figured what the heck.  I'll give it a go.  I did the fit test today which is where you have to do a series of exercises for a minute each and write down how many you were able to do.  I can tell you this... I am not fit.  I seriously thought I was going to die.  But I got through it.  Now you re-take this test every two weeks to see how you improve.  Honestly, I don't care how many suicide jumps or push up jacks I can do... I just need to do some cardio and get my heart pumping, but it will be good to have something to measure I guess.

A quick update on Dee... she looks amazing.  She has made so many changes in her life and has lost a LOT of weight too.  I am so glad to have her supporting me by doing this WW thing with me.  She is genuinely a good person and I love her.

Thanks everyone for the ongoing support, the recipes and the trips to yogurtland, which I would die without. :)  Till next time!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Earning The Man Card...

On Sunday Mike Jr was running on wet grass and his knee went out from under him... he thought he had "popped it out" which happens quite frequently to him, but this time was different.  He couldn't pop it back in and he could not put any weight on it or stretch it all the way out.  Hubby called the knee specialist that we went to during football season first thing Monday morning and they got him an appointment on Tuesday morning.  (Dee's bday.)  I was thinking they would throw him on crutches for a few days like last time and he would be fine. WRONG!

Mike called me from the doctors office to tell me they were going to be taking him in for surgery the next morning.  He had a torn meniscus and possibly a torn ACL.  They would know better when they scoped it before the surgery.  My heart literally went in to the pit of my stomach.  Surgery?  My little boy?  Under anesthesia?  I have to admit I was more than a little panicked.

The rest of the day was a bit of a blur.  I was on the phone a lot with hospital staff and insurance etc getting him pre-registered and getting instructions.  All the paperwork and phone interviews which included stuff on living wills and DNR's and such was not helping to calm my nerves at all.  I felt sick to my stomach.  Thank heavens for priesthood blessings.  Once Hubby and my Dad had given Mike Jr a blessing, I started to feel a little bit better.

I felt awful that this was all happening on Dee's bday, and hope that we can give her a bit of a do-over on some aspects of the day.  (When I told her that, she asked me if that included a do-over on the check we gave her... no Dee, it does not!)  We did get out to eat dinner and Dee got to spend some money at the mall.  But the celebration will definitely have to be continued this weekend a bit.

Wednesday morning we had to be at the Eccles Outpatient Center at Murray Hospital at 10:15am.  It was a long night and none of us got much sleep, however, Mike was very, very calm and in good spirits.  If any of you know him, you know he and his best friend Tristan frequently make what we call "Herbert" sounds.  Well, he kept doing this around all the staff and the nurses and I was so embarrassed and just hoped they weren't paying him much mind.  They all absolutely loved him though and he had everyone cracking up.






It was a long wait in pre-op, (thus the camera phone pics by dad), but we had a private room to wait in with Mike so that was nice.  We met the anesthesiologist and he was a pretty funny/quirky guy.  (Mike told us after the surgery that the guy gave him the anesthesia while singing "I feel good" to him while he fell asleep.)  The doctor came in and went over everything with us again and calmed our nerves.  They finally took him back to the operating room about 12:15. 

Meanwhile, we were put in another private waiting room with a T.V., phone, desk area and comfy chairs.  They also had all kinds of drinks and sodas and crackers for us during our wait.  I was so impressed with how we were treated at this facility.  While Mike was in surgery they even called in to our room from the operating room to let us know his ACL was fine and they would just be repairing the meniscus.  Really, we could not have asked for better staff and I was so thankful.

They came and got us just before he woke up and put us in a post-op area so we were waiting for him when he came out.  I cannot adequately put in to words my relief when I saw them wheel him in.  I will just say that I am a big baby.  (Sniff, sniff.)  He looked totally out of it, but he was awake and he was sipping on water and eating crackers which shocked me because they said he would not have an appetite at all and had even given us a prescription for anti-nausea medication.  However, apparently the first thing he said when he woke up was "I am STARVING!  Can I get something to eat?"  Several of the nurses told me how adorable and cute he was.  I dread to think what he was saying and doing back there.  I'll just say that he is not shy... that is for sure!



(It's tradition that they have to have a "bean-dip" pic EVERYWHERE!)

I was surprised to see him in a full leg brace from thigh to ankle and his knee looked HUGE under all the bandages.  Everyone who had talked to me about the surgery had told me that it was not a big deal and that he would be up and around within a week or two and it was a pretty quick recovery.  However, they told me that Michael will be in the full leg brace and on crutches (non-weight bearing), for a month and then he will have physical therapy after that. 

The doctor explained to me that the most common meniscus tear is fixed by trimming the meniscus at the tear and those kinds of tears tend to heal quicker and you can weight bear very quickly after the surgery.  However, Mike's meniscus had torn and flipped which is why he had no range of motion at all.  They did a complete repair on it and stitched it up so while this means the recovery is longer and possibly harder, in the long run, he still has his entire meniscus and this will be a very good thing for him. 

The past two days have been very rough for the guy, but he is doing so much better today.  (He has totally earned his man card with the way he has dealt with the pain.)  We had a follow up visit this morning and of course Mike Jr had to take lots of pics when they took the dressing off... boys are so gross that way.  So for those of you who did not receive this pic via text... here ya go... didn't want you to feel left out. :)


I just wanted to thank everyone who has come by and visited or dropped off treats.  And thanks to the lovely lady, (who knows who she is), who brought by a fabulous dinner even though we told her not too... I really appreciated it. ♥

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Dee!!!

March 22, 1994 seems like an eternity ago. I was only 21 years old at the time and I was on the way to Shady Grove Hospital in Gaithersburg to give birth to my first baby. I was two weeks late, (what is it about my kids and being late?), and so I had been brought in to be induced.

Would it be a boy or a girl? We didn't know. The baby had been way modest through both sonograms keeping it's legs crossed, so it was going to be a surprise. We had a list of six girls names and six boys names but as soon as she came out we both knew she was our "DeAnna".

There are so many things I love/make me laugh about DeAnna. Here are a few of them:

  • She is in EVERY way a drama queen. I love to watch her perform on stage. She has no fear whatsoever... but she "performs" quite frequently at home too. Give it up girl... I know every trick in the book. ;)
  • She always says "I love you" at least three times on the phone before she hangs up with you.
  • She is a total girly girl. I don't know how she can be my daughter. She has purses, shoes and nail polish for every outfit.
  • Even though she is a girly girl, she LOVES sports. Especially football. In fact, I would say she is the biggest football fan in the house... and anyone who knows her Dad knows that is saying something!
  • She works hard to act like nothing bothers her... no matter how hard we to try to get under her skin.
  • She cooks dinner for me quite frequently... and lots of treats too. What mother wouldn't love that?
  • She is a hard worker and gets amazing grades... even if she hands in ten assignments just before the end of the quarter to bring her grade up.
  • If you kiss her on one cheek or touch one arm she insists you do it the other side too. How quirky... it makes me laugh.
  • She hates lotion... to the point where I have to go in late at night and rub it on her hands while she is sleeping to help heal her dry skin.
  • She has it down to a fine science how to work her brother up and she excels at it on a daily basis!
  • She has amazing musical talent... she plays the piano and sings every day. (She also plays the flute although to my chagrin she never practices anymore.)
  • She is for the most part pretty responsible and she has never done anything to break my trust... that I know of!!!
I cannot believe my little baby girl is 17 years old. It seems just like yesterday that she...


...was born



...got sunburned at the pool



...started posing


...began walking



...puddle jumped with Nana in the rain



...hated Santa




...started kindergarten




...had her first piano recital



...made her first loaf of bread



...got baptized




...got her ears pierced



...was bridesmaid for her Auntie Jenna



...sang in her first professional choir



...I just thought this was funny



...went to girls camp... finally!




...started making dinner for us




...still posing!



... went to the Cowboys training camp



...grew up way too fast. :(


 
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEANNA!

You have turned into a beautiful
young woman and we love you :)