Sunday, July 31, 2011

July

So much good food. I love eating.

The Really Good:
Whole Wheat Strawberry Mango Pancakes: I made these for Matthew’s birthday breakfast, and I dare say they were the best pancakes I’ve ever had. Even though they were whole wheat, they still were light and fluffy, and the strawberries and mangoes in them just made them perfect.
Homemade Oreos: Again, made these for Matthew’s birthday, then made another batch to send to my brother… and then another batch with my brothers. They tasted like a good version of an oreo (not a big fan of just plain oreos. Love oreo flavored stuff though).  Soft and delicious.
Orange Chicken: Very, very good. Loved this.
Strawberry Bruschetta: I thought that this was such a clever idea. We ended up not doing the exact thing that appears on the link. With Matthew, we just did olive oil toasted bread with cut strawberries+sugar. With my mom and family we put some Boursin cheese on it too. Loved it with Boursin, it sure disappeared fast and my mom said it was to die for.
Chicken and Spinach Lasagna: A slightly healthier version of lasagna. I’m not lasagna’s biggest fan ever, but this was a very fulfilling meal. Also, we just made enough for a bread pan of lasagna, so we didn’t have to keep eating lasagna for weeks on end—a very wise decision.
Panko Crusted Chicken Stuffed with Ricotta, Tomatoes, Basil and Spinach: We made this for my dad when he was in town the other weekend, and then again with my whole family in MN and boy did it disappear fast both times! Really, a scrumptious combination of flavors and textures that made a great meal.

The Good:
Smores Milkshake:  I really enjoy graham cracker crumbles, and this milkshake which incorporated graham cracker, mallow and chocolate chips hit the spot.       
Guacamole Salad: Tomatoes, avocado, beans, corn and a bunch of other stuff made a healthy yet delicious salad thingy that I enjoyed for lunch one day.
Strawberry Lemonade Bars: Like lemon bars but with pureed strawberries mixed in the filling. Note: We had to double the amount of pureed strawberries and increase the baking time quite a bit. A fun twist on a classic dessert.                                   
Toffee Crunch Cookies: These didn't exactly turn out like the description (the marshmallows and rice crispies were supposed to turn into a toffee-resembling flavor?) but they were still solid cookies. No complaints, just no rave reviews.,

The Probably Won’t Make Again:
Grilled chicken tostadas with Grilled Tomatillos and Queso Fresco: Ok so this wasn't really that great, but we didn't follow the recipe very closely and omitted several things. Also, we didn't grill anything and the tomatillos were just... squishy. 


I'm not sure which one was my favorite of the month. Maybe a 3-way tie between the Oreos, the bruschetta and the stuffed chicken? Something like that...

Baby Boating

This baby was born for the water.



I also went waterskiing and we threw the dog in the lake.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

funny faces and firsts

"Seriously, mom?"
 Hiking to the top of Y mountain. Woot.
 "Hey if I put her on my head she stops crying!"
 First pony ride! ...On a pony someone was taking on a walk up the street. Oh, Utah.
First baseball game (with grandpa!)

I'm just a proud sister

Guys, I am so proud of my little brother Aaron:
He just graduated from high school. What makes this even that much better is that he graduated from high school, completed all the requirements, and did very well... despite the fact that he has autism. He's basically amazing, and really an inspiration to me.

He has made SO MUCH progress since he was diagnosed at three years old. He's always had a milder case of autism, but he still has overcome so much and learned so much, it's really amazing to see what a great boy he has become. In talking to him or looking at him today you would never guess he has any sort of challenge. He still has his struggles--learning and comprehension are still difficulties for him but overall he's just doing awesomely.

These are some of the things that I think are great about him. (It's a list!)
  • He's hilarious. Really, he is incredibly funny.
  • He will chat with me when I call home or come to visit. How many boys, much less teenage boys in general, much less boys with autism, will chat with their sisters on the phone?
  • He's a stud. I mean seriously, look at that picture!
  • He has a job as a lifeguard at the YMCA
  • He is kind and really cares about other people. He's just a sweetheart.
  • He is an AMAZING singer. He has an absolutely beautiful voice and is very, very talented with music.
  • He has a strong testimony and bears it very powerfully.
  • He's a great teacher--he goes out teaching with the missionaries frequently.
  • He just finished being on the Work Crew at the Hill Cumorah Pageant--they treat it kind of like a mini-mission. The Work Crew sets up the stage for the Pageant, runs all the lights, sounds and special effects. They also proselyte before the show. 
  • He's working on submitting his papers to go on a mission. 
I really love my little brother!

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Public Service Notice 2

    Unlike my first Public Service Notice, which if followed would have supplied you with more than ample amounts of fat, sugar and calories, Public Service Notice Part II really is helpful. Hopefully. Well, it could be for some people at least.

    Today we're going to talk about Amazon Mom.
    No, not that amazon mom.

    Through amazon.com, you can sign up for Amazon Mom, and then use their "Subscribe and Save" option to save 30% on baby things like diapers and wipes. You also get free Amazon Prime use, which means that your orders will ship for FREE and arrive in two days.

    To illustrate, I ordered a box of 276 Pampers Baby Dry Size 1 diapers on AmazonMom for $31.49 after 30% off with Subscribe and Save. That comes out to 11.4 cents per diaper. Looking at Walmart's website, I can buy a box of 192 diapers of the same brand and size for $29.95, which comes out to about 15.6 cents per diaper. Not a bad deal eh?

    Additionally, you're not locked into anything. You can always change the brand of diapers, the size of diapers, and how often you're receiving shipments. I know there are many other ways to get less expensive diapers, but this has worked really well for us. One of my mom's friends passed on this tip to me, so maybe someone else will find this useful for their expensive diapering needs. You can click here for more information about this. Peace!

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Baby goes to Minnesota

    Just some fun pictures of Natalie from Minnesota:

    Sparky checking out the new little person.
     Natalie checking out the dog...
     "I don't think I like the dog!"
     Someone gave Natalie a little doll. When Natalie would get fussy, Nathan would say "I think she wants her doll" and get it and try to make Natalie happy. Cute eh?

    how much

    I was looking something up...
    Call me crazy, but I'm very entertained by the diverse variety of suggestions from Google.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Lists

    If you are all going to be my blog-stalkers, you have to know something about me.

    I love LOVE love making lists.


    Here is a list of a few reasons why I love lists so much:
    1. I love organizing and being organized. Making lists ensure that I don't forget anything. Side story: When I was younger, living at home I used to rearrange my room every couple of months. Pretty sure a big reason was because rearranging room basically = reorganizing everything!

    2. Related to being organized... I can sub-list my lists! Or in other words, I make a shopping list, I make another list categorizing my list by sections of the store. I make a packing list, I categorize by what room I can get stuff from. I make a to-do list, I categorize by priority. Why make just 1 list when you could make 2?!?

    3. Lists give my life meaning and direction. They make me feel accomplished. Or rather, crossing off stuff on my list makes me feel uber accomplished. (Never mind that the things crossed off on my list today were "go on walk with Natalie" "do dishes" "call doctor" and "pay bills" and it takes less than 2 hours to do them all. I crossed off 4 things therefore I am awesome.)

    4. I make lists when I'm excited for something that's going to happen.. For example, I make a list of things to pack or things to do at a vacation destination when I'm excited to travel. I make grocery lists when I'm excited to eat something. Etc... etc...etc...

    5. Lists increase the chances of me getting things done. Pretty sure that I am about 87% more likely to read my scriptures when its on my to-do list. (So I don't always read my scriptures every day. Don't judge. It's on my list of things to improve on :) )


    ...I might need help. But it's just so much fun!

    Saturday, July 9, 2011

    Why I probably wouldn't vote for Romney

    Not even considering policies and ideologies, if Mitt Romney won the Republican primaries, I would be very hesitant to vote for him. Specifically because he's LDS. I know, I sound like one of those crazy un-informed Mormon haters but here's my reason why.

    Let's consider Obama right now. I don't really know any specific numbers or percentages, but I think it's safe to say that there are a lot more people dissatisfied with him now as compared to when he took office. And I don't think that his inability to really improve the economy, fix healthcare, curb the deficit, blah blah blah is really all his fault. Of course he should have/could have done things differently. But these are big problems that are hard to just simply fix. In a lot of ways, I think he just has had a really stinky situation to work with that no one could have completely "fixed." And his inability to rectify these problems has drawn a lot of criticism of him.

    If Mitt Romney was the Republican candidate, and he beat Obama, I don't think that by the time he took office many of these problems will have gotten a whole lot better. I think he'll be dealing with a lot of the same types of hard problems that are very complex and difficult to fix. Even if he is successful, it seems people are always unhappy with the President. So I can see him drawing a lot of criticism. And I can see a lot of that criticism in the form of "Romney stinks, he's not doing a good job, therefore, all Mormons are also dumb." I would just be afraid that the church would get a lot of negative PR, even though it's ridiculous and we all know that the church in no way supports or endorses any political parties or candidates.

    Anyway, I only moderately follow politics and the news and stuff, so I'm no expert, but this is my opinion and the impression that I get from different things I've read. And although I would be hesitant to vote for Romney for the reasons mentioned above, I don't really feel awesome about voting for Obama. So waddaya do? I guess we'll just see what happens in the upcoming months.

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    Matchy Matchy

    Natalie and her cousin Eliza (and her other baby cousin Josie) have some matching outfits. Cute eh?
    And because I've had a few requests for more pictures of Natalie, here are a couple more random pictures. I don't know why I think this one is so funny... probably because her legs/feet are symmetrically shaped and pointed and cuz her arms are just splayed out. haha.
     Matchy matchy with great grandma. (Color coordinated outfits not intended this time).
    And because I know this is SOOOO interesting... a video of Natalie's happy coo-ing when she is well fed. Okay I actually think it's really cute. Don't judge me for posting this.
    video

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    June


    This month with food we are going to simplify and streamline my reporting process. Instead of having the link to the recipe at the bottom of the recipe recap, the link is embedded in the title of the recipe. And really, some of these you should definitely check out. 

    The Really Good:
    Honey Ginger Chicken: We loved the tangy sweet flavor of this chicken and the way that it carmelized into a sticky sauce all over the chicken. Note: we used teriyaki sauce instead of fish sauce (yuck!)
    S’mores Bars: It’s a graham cracker crust (one of my favorite things!) with layers of marshmallow cream, chocolate bars, and more crust. What’s not to love?
    Pizza: Just a straight up pizza with homemade crust and homemade sauce. But so good.
    Pineapple and Peppers with Chicken: This is a variation of something my dad made. Put diced pineapple, small-ish chicken chunks, and thin red pepper strips into a frying pan with a *little* brown sugar and/or honey, oil and some cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Cook until done… if you want you can pour off some of the juices that come out so that things get a little crispier if you know what I mean…Basically it was delish.
    Herbed yogurt chicken with mango couscous: We eat a lot of chicken, obviously (hello it’s cheap) and so variations on chicken are an important part of our sanity. This one was really fantastic.

    The Good…ish:
    Burger Buns: They were good, and we liked them, they worked, we’ll make/use them again (we froze half the batch) but they weren’t really that good, so that’s why they’re in the “Good-ish” category.
    Buttermilk Biscuits: We like biscuits, but something was a little lacking here, in our opinions.
    Cake Balls: I liked these, although they were insanely sweet. Matthew liked them in a bowl of ice cream, but otherwise weren’t his favorite.

    The Probably-Won’t-Make-Again:
    Chicken Parmesan Burgers: I had such high hopes for these. In theory they seemed really good, but they just turned out a little bit too…meh. I might just not have refined enough tastes for these though. I'm sure someone else would find them delicious.