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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

And I Leave You With This...

First of all, please notice that I added a search bar under the title of my blog. Now you can search for past posts, ideas, meals, etc. and hopefully it will help save you time.

It's not like I am totally addicted to blogging-I'm not, but I need a mental release every one in awhile so I write, and post, and release. The hubs finals are taking place over the next two weeks, and with a major fundraiser going on, spring volleyball competitions and our house in the stages of major renovation upheaval--I am taking a bit of a break--don't stress, just a week or two.

But I leave you with this....
Cook Once, Eat Twice
With the circus that has become my life lately I still want to cook at home, from healthy, whole ingredients. I am watching our pocketbook and waistlines, and don't love going out too often to eat. I saw this great clip the other day about preparing ingredients ahead of time for the week. I like flexibility and as much of a planner as I am sometimes I don't want "what's on the menu." So I leave you with my interpretation of other's make ahead, time saving, pre-prep meal ideas. Enjoy!

Tacos & Spaghetti Pie
Ground Beef or Turkey-make twice as much as you need for your normal taco recipe; once cooked take out half for Spaghetti Pie and season it. Put this meat in the fridge for later in the week. Finish seasoning the taco meat in the pan. Also slice/dice/chop all the ingredients you need for tacos, as well as those you can use in Spaghetti Pie.

Grilled Chicken & Asian Noodles
Grill (or Saute) twice as much chicken as you need, reserving half for Asian Noodles later. Pair your grilled chicken for tonight's meal with oven roasted or grilled veggies, brown rice or salad.

Spaghetti Pie- cook your noodles (twice as much as you need for Spaghetti Pie) and use your meat and chopped veggies from Monday's recipe. Follow this recipe, or your favorite version to finish this meal.

Using the chicken from Tuesday and the noodles from Wednesday use the below recipe and finish this Asian Noodle dish for tonight.

¼ cup              cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp             lime juice
¼ tsp               salt
½ tsp               pepper
½ tsp               garlic (or two minced cloves)
2 Tbsp             soy sauce
1 Tbsp             Hoisin sauce
dash                 red pepper flakes
dash                 Tabasco
 ¼ cup              peanuts (opt.)

Add cooked meat to sauce and warm through in skillet or wok. When meat is done add ¼ cup peanuts (optional).

Katie’s French Dip Sandwich

1 package Roast beef cold cuts

1 pkg. Deli Rolls

1 pkg. Au Jus

12 slices Swiss or Mozzarella cheese

sauteed onions and peppers


Mix the Au Jus and add beef. Let beef simmer in juice 10 minutes. Spread Mayo lightly on each bun, add beef and cheese. Grill in oven 10-12 minutes, until cheese melts. Add onions and peppers, if desired. Reserve Au jus for dipping sandwich.

Since I use a lot of the same meats and veggies in different recipes each week I am hoping this means less work doing a bit at a time. Other ideas for saving time: cutting up everything you need at the beginning of the week for the weekly menu; cooking twice as much as needed and freezing half--caution somethings don't freeze well (see this link for ideas), or marinading fresh beef and chicken then freezing it for easy meals on the grill or in the oven!

Until I blog again....

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Betty's Best 2012

The Best of Betty Crocker's 2012 Recipes is here! Lots of quick, easy and delicious ideas. It's free and you can download it HERE from me!

Happy Spring!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Take A Stand...If You Dare

So maybe you don't all agree about what the FCC wants to do. If the F-word and female frontal nudity don't bother you on prime time TV, please skip the rest of this post. This is my opinion and I was relatively shocked it was a bit more conservative than I normally play.

According to Yahoo and the Desert News “F-bombs” and some female frontal nudity could soon become allowed on prime time TV — but major media outlets have largely ignored that development during the 10 days that have transpired since the Federal Communications Commission announced it is considering relaxing the decency standards that govern nudity and profanity on broadcast television.”

To find more info from the Deseret News click HERE.You can get info from Yahoo News HERE!

I filled out the FCC comment form this morning because not only am I not OK with my kids seeing this--yes I realize I can turn the TV off, but I don't want to see it either. Again, yes I realize I can turn it off. I believe that if a program needs to rely on nudity and profanity to get viewers, then the story line isn't good enough to watch.

I realize this is a conservative point of view--no "bad" words allowed, no naked ladies, oh my! I also realize that people will watch TV for the shock factor, and many businesses make money because we watch. I think that we need to maintain a level of decency in society. Children and adults are exposed to this stuff everyday, but if we just sit by and say "They'll see it other places," or "we can't stop it," then we have given up fighting for decency. I realize that most kids have full access to the Internet, and see stuff at school that is probably along the same lines as what the FCC wants to do. I can't control that, but I can let my voice be heard and voice opposition to this behavior being in one more place that my kids and I have access. Some nights I just want to unwind and have a good laugh. I want a relatively boob free and F-bomb free place to do so.

If you agree go to  (Make sure the Filing Number is 13-86) and Fill in the Form and the comment you want to leave. Don't forget to confirm your comment to submit it to the FCC.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Snow Cone Fun

I know... there are thunderstorms across most of the country today, but I am harnessing my power to will SUMMER to come join us. I have this awesome friend named Shauna--she has a fundraiser every year called "The Underwear Fair." It's to raise funds to buy unmentionables for kids at a local hospital. So every year we head over to her house for some carnival games, cookies and Snow Cones. Each Mom brings a game and treats and the kids hang out and have a blast. Shauna makes Snow Cones. So I had to ask last year "how can you afford all that syrup?" She smiled and shared this little tidbit with me...and now I am passing it along. And I hope she doesn't get mad, but I had to share her smarts.

Snow Cone Syrup
2 c. white sugar
1 c. water
1 package (.13 oz) of Kool-Aid (or other flavored drink mix)
Mix sugar and water together and bring to a boil; boil for about 1 minute. Remove from heat, and stir in the drink mix. Allow to cool, and store in a container for pouring. Pour over shaved ice to flavor.
You can crush ice in your blender, with a hand mixer or just buy it pre-crushed if you don't have a fancy machine. You can also buy some inexpensive (under $30) hand crank machines at Wal-Mart, Target or Amazon.

This is such a fun idea! And hopefully if I can't have summer outside, we can enjoy a glimpse of it!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Don't be Sad, Be Silly

So much seriousness in the world this week after the atrocious attack in Boston I need something to lighten things up a bit. It's scary and sad to see the world unraveling. But like Mr. Rogers mom said, "Look for the helpers." There is hope, there is always hope. So today maybe we remember to hug our kids, friends, families a little tighter and have some fun.

Front CoverGet outside. Start a game of Ultimate Frisbee, volleyball or dodge ball. Endorphins will make you happy and you'll probably get a good laugh just playin' around. I have this book and love it! Lots of great game ideas can be found in it, and most don't need expensive equipment. 

Visit a new place. Trying new things expands our perspectives. I found an awesome new modern art gallery in The Gateway. It sells local artist's items and has some cool stuff. It's on the bottom level by The Body Shop. Every community has at least one or two things you haven't had the opportunity to discover yet, so this weekend, give it a shot.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, when you are in your own head, holding a pity party for one, leave the party and do some service. Call a local shelter, senior center or city hall and get involved in making your community a better place. There are people right under our noses that can use a little bit of help. I hate to toot my own horn, but recently I've been involved in two fundraisers to help young families who have lost a parent. These families have young kids; the parents who have passed on are my age--way too young to die. From personal experience I know what it feels like to be a child in this situation. The impact service can have lasts a lifetime for everyone. It has been amazing to see and feel the love these families have received from perfect strangers who just want to help. And, let's be honest, when we serve the emotional boost we receive from helping is better than winning the million dollar lottery. Your service can be something simple and silly like taking a bunch of flowers or cards to cheer someone's day. Listen to your intuition and see what good you can do today.
Just a few ideas to get you started: The Road Homelocal hospitalsMake A Wish;The Dodd Family (who recently lost their 36 y.o. Dad) and Kim Milligan family.
Turn dinnertime into playtime. When I was a teen there was this huge trend to do silly things for date nights that involved a school dance. We would serve spaghetti dinners and give our dates chopsticks or tongs to eat with; we'd play games that involved popping large amounts of clue filled balloons to find out the details to the night's events; we would do treasure hunts that ended with a picnic in the park. Lots of laughing and silliness was involved, but we always had fun. You can do this same idea with your family or a bunch of friends--really a great way to step outside the stress and just be silly.

Take five minutes each day to blow bubbles, jump rope, write a note, or listen to your favorite song. Be silly --if just for a moment--and remember what is important to YOU. We all are riding a "crazy train" of some kind~enjoy the journey.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Relax...and Breathe

I took the twins to get an orthodontic evaluation on Friday. (Insert colorful expletives here). I could have a really great kitchen AND nice vacation for the quote we were given--needless to say, we'll be shopping around. Friendly advice--if you want your kid to have a good future, send him/her to dental school. After the initial shock--you would have been impressed by my poker face--we made our way home and had another teaching moment as mother and daughters. You know the one--value of a dollar (or $10,000 of them), and the virtue of hard work and responsibility? I have proof it sunk in this time because I heard them talking about our moment later that night while they were cleaning up the kitchen--score one for me. In any case looks like I'll have to donate some eggs or something to pay for this upcoming little venture with my lovely children--I'm fine with that--they obviously work well and I don't need them anymore.

After the world came crashing down on me, and I hyperventilated about how much we need to do, want to do and have to do, I got a very supportive husband's shoulder to whine on, and then we made a plan. He assured me we'd be "fine" (F-rustrated, I-nsecure, N-eurotic and E-motional) and figure it all out. Wow! He really is the smarter one...and I am putting my faith in him to help us be "fine."

I've now had a few days to think about things, and I came up with a whole new scenario about learning to let it go. We (you, me, anyone) do not have control over any one's (the universe, God, family, friends, neighbors, etc.) actions. We only have control over our reactions. Many times people say or do things to get a reaction, but if we don't give it, they are sent an unexpected reaction. So this plan can be set into action on many levels--serious and not so serious. I was taught to ignore people's annoying actions or habits, but that doesn't always work. Making a joke, simply laughing the awkwardness off and changing the subject can be equally effective ways of dealing with trying situations. You can't control any one or anything, so take my advice, and have a plan to avert a situation where things get seriously out of control.

"You can't control others' actions; 
you can only control your reaction."

Seems pretty simple right? Don't flinch, don't give up, don't give in. It's ok to take a minute and think about your response and options. Sometimes all you need to do is smile and nod and walk away.Speaking of smiling, in 22 months my children will have perfectly straight and lovely smiles....and it's going to be a "fine" experience.

Relax...and Breathe.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Life Lessons

Winter causes many of us a case of the blaaaahhhs. Yes, blaaaaahhhs are a scientifically proven fact. We have been inside for a few rainy days--and with five or more little people running around, and vaulted ceilings, our house has become somewhat of a crazy circus. As frustrating and overwhelming as parenthood (and life regardless of having children or not) can be I really try to focus on what I am doing and why I am doing it.

Here's my advice for the day..or week...or until I post again.

1- When all else fails EAT DESSERT. Obviously I take my own advice pretty seriously. I cleaned out the freezer and found pound upon pound of frozen zucchini. Don't be disturbed, it was actually from last season. We've made zucchini cupcakes, corn bread and brownies--after four days this lone piece of brownie is all that is left. I am hoping that means it was good and no kid realized he/she was eating something with veggies in it--or if they did notice, the didn't care. How to turn this idea into Family or Friend Fun? Have your own Cupcake (or Dessert) Wars! Everyone gets their recipe & ingredients, if you are up for a challenge add a secret ingredient (like zucchini) and see what happens! Even if your cupcake turns out kind of gross--it's cake! Throw on some frosting and eat it!

2-Plant something just to see what happens. Below we have a bit of a contest going on. We planted these Sunflowers on the same day, and one of my little gardeners got all crazy with the water. This caused a very wet environment for our seeds. And the other gardener listened to directions and has been very good at keeping her seeds in the sun--so one is growing beautifully, and the other is just now forcing it's way to the surface. See there are lots of "life lesson" parallels we can draw from growing a Sunflower. Like: Listen to your Mother; or Follow Directions; or D.'s lesson- "Everything that is alive dies. So learn what you can from it while it's alive, then eat it's seeds." Hopefully you get the sarcasm and childlike humor from that lesson. She was so mad when she learned that yes, we can eat the sunflower seeds, but eventually that will mean that the flower dies. Ahhh life lessons.....

 3- Have an art contest. My children have recently fallen in love with the mini pots of paint from the Dollar Store. This has inspired hours of fun, creativity and discovery, along with hours of scrubbing hands, feet, elbows and tabletops. Sometimes learning is messy, and sometimes messy is fun. Cleaning up is never fun, but its necessary. See...another life lesson. Draw your own parallels, but letting our own inner kid out to doodle is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon.

I remembered the other day a life lesson I learned in college. A friend of mine was always running about helping people move or fix something or helping with homework. I asked him one day how he got anything done for himself. His answer was simple, "I have priorities. If I help others first, I know I will have time for me." It's left an impression all these years later. The last few weeks I have begun to refocus my life. It will never be perfect. It will never be a glossy cover of a magazine. If I worry about all it's not, I will never see all that it is. I laid in bed with my two littlest this morning, just hanging out watching Disney shows. It was the best morning I've had in a long time. The dishes sat, the laundry sat, my fundraiser "to do list" sat. It didn't  matter to me. I remembered with clarity that I was doing, am doing, what I need to do right now. It's not glamorous--but it's mine, and for now that's perfect!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Summer Reads

I am such a word nerd. I love writing a perfect sentence almost as much as I love reading one from one of my favorite authors. Here's a list of my favorite books that I have actually read and recommend to you. Take one to the beach, the mountains or on a long car ride this summer. Such a good way to escape on a rainy afternoon too...

Katie's Top Ten

"Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe" by Fannie Flagg. (I love all of Fannie's books. She is a straight shooter and the books will make you laugh and cry.)

"Misfortune Cookies" by Kevin Alan Milne- not your typical fairy tale love story--more like a reality love story.

"The Language of Flowers" by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

"Winters Garden" by Kristin Hannah (another great author).

"The Shape of Mercy" by Susan Meissner- Salem Witch trials from a new perspective.

"The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane" by Katherine Howe (another favorite author; probably my favorite book I've read in the last year)-another Salem/Early American novel.

"The House of Velvet and Glass" by Katherine Howe- the Titanic from a new perspective.

"The Chaperone" by Laura Moriarty- 1920's story of starlet Louise Brooks and the woman who chaperones the start of Brooks' acting in New York City. Two story lines at once that beautifully intertwine.

"The Icon Thief" by Alec Nevala-Lee- great story, characters and suspense thriller.

"NYPD Red" by James Patterson-all his books are good--there is a bit of colorful language.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

The sun is shining! It's not raining! It's wait a day and that will change, but today it's shining!

We had a fun, relaxing Easter. I spent the day with the girls shopping at Gateway (downtown SLC) and we rode TRAX to get there. A fun new experience. I am spoiled by the METRO, but TRAX worked out nicely. I hope it becomes a fun new Mother-Daughter-Birthday tradition.

D. and I made these awesome Spring Trifles for dessert! She is such a good baker-sweet treat maker!

Spring Trifle Recipe

2 small packages of Vanilla Pudding (or whatever flavor you like, or have on hand)
3 cups of milk
1 c. sliced berries (we used strawberries)
1 c. sliced bananas
2 c. Honey Bunches of Oats (or other favorite cereal)
1/2 c. shredded coconut (optional)

We used food coloring to color our Vanilla pudding orange, after we'd mixed the pudding powder with the milk. We used 1 less cup than the package directions, making our pudding nice and thick.

In pudding dishes (or plastic cups) layer the pudding, fruit, cereal and coconut. Top with a Peep--really optional, but my kids LOVED them!

Hopefully that will be the fun they remember from this year, and not the 3 hours in the backyard dragging lumber and building garden boxes. We did that too, but that is a whole other post for a whole other day! Maybe they'll be happy about the boxes when there is less weeding to do!