Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Yesterday Something Amazing Happened

I had decided that I was going to go and buy running shoes. (No that's not it) Paul had gotten me a gift card for Christmas so that I could go and pick some shoes out. I was dressed and ready to go around 10:00 a.m. This is so not normal for me. Usually I do a load of laundry after Andrew leaves, hang out in my robe and don't shower until around that time. (or later truth be told) But amazingly yesterday morning was different. Right before I left I was eating a bowl of granola that I could hardly choke down. I had had enough. I went to the sink to dump it. I got a glass of water to wash it down with and notice a large brown thing in my neighbor's tree. Everything is brown and dead and ugly right now. It's really hard to distinguish one brown thing from another. 

What the heck is that? I wondered. It looked almost like a giant wasp nest but surely I would have noticed that before. Then I see movement. Oh my gosh it's a bird! A really really large bird. All of a sudden I see a little bit of white. NO! It can't be. Right there in my kitchen I have a moment. I can't believe what I am seeing. I run to the piano and grab my camera off of it and head to the back porch. 
I zoom in and sure enough I am looking at a 


 and it is practically in my back yard. 

I'm not close enough to get a good picture of it. Luckily I am dressed (Seriously a miracle but honestly it wouldn't have stopped me. I would have been out there in my bright red robe, holes and all, if that's what it took) so I walk across the lawn and try to get closer. It still isn't good enough. I tear across my yard toward the front yard. I run to my neighbor door and knock because I want to share this excitement with someone so badly, but no one answers. I can't wait any longer. I head up the hill trying to be quiet but it isn't easy. There is so much gravel I feel like a bull in a china shop. I can tell it hears me. I get as close as I can. I get a few pictures and obviously it had had enough and off it flew. I stood there taking pictures, my heart racing and my mouth gaping open.

It was amazing!

This is a bird that I wasn't sure would even still be around when I was an adult. I heard so much about it being endangered as a kid. This is our national bird. A symbol of freedom. A truly magnificent creature. The wing span was huge. I've never seen anything like it. I feel so lucky to have seen it. I keep looking out the window hoping it comes back. I can't tell you how thrilling this was for me. 

These first two pictures are taken from my back yard. 

I've had to crop them to get closer and they aren't in perfect focus because I had my zoom out so far and I didn't have anything to help steady my camera. There wasn't time. Even with their imperfections I am thrilled to have them. 

I still, a day later, keep saying to myself. I saw a bald eagle, in the wild and that's my backyard! Wow. There aren't words. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Another Game~Another Win

Today was another game day. This time we played at 11:00 am. Yes! When the game started the other team only had four girls. I guess you don't have to forfeit unless you only have three players. I got a little cocky and thought, "we have this. They are going to be exhausted in no time." Boy was I wrong. They were good. One of the girls knew how to play! Another one couldn't miss a shot. They made the first shot, the second, the third. Eek. This isn't good. 

It was so exciting. With the help of some of our older girls we got back in the game. Then we would get behind again. It was back and forth. Finally #32 on the other team (the one who really knew how to play) fouled out right at the end. That was what we needed. We pulled ahead and barely won. It was so, much. fun! Emma actually got a little spunky this time. She needs a lot of practice but she tries. We were proud of her. 

It doesn't get much closer than this! 

Before and After

What do you do to avoid the blues in January? Go red! 

A while back Emma wanted to dye her hair. I didn't mind as long as it wasn't permanent. I bought a box called Raspberry Creme. I decided that it was too dark and too red for her complexion. I figured I would use it one of these day. In the meantime I got a coupon for another free box. I went and got one that is more for her coloring but is still suppose to add shine and some red. Thursday night we were bored so we decided to dye our hair. You really can't tell on hers too much. In the sun you can see a little more red. I think it added some depth to her color and some shine. She was disappointed that it wasn't more obvious. 

Mine is that burgundy red that doesn't occur naturally in nature. It's naturally so dark it doesn't really show up too much. That's okay. It's still fun to do something a little different for a change.

Thank Goodness for Gorgeous Sunsets

Seriously they've saved me this week.

Monday the 17th

For the holiday Paul and Emma went skiing up in Park City. Andrew went to the rec. center to shoot hoops with some friends. I stayed home.

FYI~Emma's snowpants are totally vintage. I bought them for my one and only ski trip to Mt. Lassen that Cindy took me on when we were in 8th grade! Thank you Cindy. I still remember that. (Emma isn't thrilled to be wearing them. I guess bibs are out. Too bad. Until she stops growing I refuse to spend money on fancy ski clothes.) 

My parents came down so we could celebrate my dad's birthday. I got to visit with them for a little while before everyone got home. Everyone got cleaned up and we all went to Texas Roadhouse for an early dinner. 

Happy Birthday daddy! 

Saturday January 15th

On Sunday (the 9th) Emma told us on our way home from church that she had signed up for the churches girl's basketball team. My first thought was...um, okay. My second was...we'll see how long this lasts.

That Thursday she went to her first practice. It lasted over two hours. I figured she would be done right then and there. Nope. She loved it! Her first game was Saturday the 15th at 8:00 am. Yuck. It's the only day we have to sleep in and we had to be somewhere at 8:00 am? How rude!

It was so fun! We loved watching these girls. It wasn't always pretty but they did well enough to win!

Here are some shots from the game.

The coach of our team is a professional racquetball player. I wasn't sure how competitive she would be as a coach. If she was out for to win everything I was afraid that Emma would never get to play since she has zero experience. Kristen was awesome though and let all the girls have equal playing time. She's been really wonderful with these girls. Emma is totally loving basketball.    

Cheddar Chicken

Was it my intention to try a third new recipe this month? No. Was it a necessity? Yes.

Because I wasn't feeling well last weekend we didn't do our normal weekend grocery shopping on Saturday. We hadn't really planned what we were going to do for food on Sunday then all of a sudden this recipe popped up in my reader. It seemed so easy and I had everything I needed. Woot!

(Can you even tell that that's chicken in there? Good grief that's a bad picture.)

16 Ritz crackers (about 3/4 cup) crushed
6 oz of sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 Tbsp melted butter
* Heat oven to 350. In a bowl combine the crackers, cheese garlic and salt and pepper to taste.
* Dip chicken in butter then cracker mixture then place on a foil lined baking sheet.
* Sprinkle remaining mixture onto chicken then bake until chicken is golden brown. (25-30 min)

I had some instant mashed potatoes and made up some biscuits. Poof, dinner was served. Not too shabby considering I just wanted to stay in bed. Here's the problem that we ran into. I only have one oven. The chicken cooked at 350, the biscuits baked at 425 I think. I opted to cook the chicken first since it cooked so much longer. Big mistake. I covered it with foil while the biscuits were in the over for only 8-10 minutes. In that short amount of time all the steam made my crispy chicken SOGGY. I loved the flavor but the texture was all wrong. Paul didn't mind but he eats stuffing so you can't trust him. The kids were horrified. They wouldn't even touch it. Their loss.

I will make this again. They will scream and run and probably hide but it was too easy, too fast and too good to not try again. We won't eat it with biscuits though. We will need some other carb-y side dish that cooks at 350.

January Blahs

I think I've bitched about January each and every year that I've blogged so this shouldn't come as any surprise to any of you. I hate January. Hate. I have been in a total funk. This picture was taken last Sunday. As you can see visibility was very limited. I hate that! Hate!! 

I truly believe I suffer from SAD. (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

What are the symptoms of SAD?

 Common symptoms of winter-onset SAD include the following:

  • A change in appetite, especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods (I read this WHILE I was eating two pieces of toast with a lot of jam. I had the toast after I finished a donut. I'm not kidding.)
  • Weight gain (Yep)
  • A drop in energy level (Oh yes)
  • Fatigue (You better believe it)
  • A tendency to oversleep (Would this include two hour naps each afternoon?) 
  • Difficulty concentrating (I've been reading the same quilt pattern for weeks. Finally I took it to someone else at church and said "read this!")
  • Irritability and anxiety (Ask my kids about this)
  • Increased sensitivity to social rejection (N/A)
  • Avoidance of social situations and a loss of interest in the activities you used to enjoy (Notice I haven't been blogging. I don't feel like doing anything. I don't even want to answer the phone right now.)

I think I need help! 

This past week hasn't been bad weather wise but we've been sick. I've felt like total poo. Doesn't it seem like I was just sick? Actually it was before Thanksgiving but I swear it feels like just yesterday. Anyway Paul had something too. We've been walking around sneezing and sniffling all week.

For me it started over a week ago. Thursday I had a pesky cough. Friday I turned down lunch out with friends. Not just any lunch but Sushi. 

I just didn't feel good. Each day a new symptom would pop up. The next day I'd have a sore throat, then the next I would have itchy lungs. I was also sporting a gorgeous cold sore too. It was so wonderful. Not. The minute I started feel a little better I started my period. I know, too much information but it was like a one two punch. I don't have normal periods. They render me practically useless for at least 48 hours. I stayed in bed doing only what I had to do all day Thursday and Friday. Today I feel almost normal. It's sooo nice! And the sun is out. Sort of. 

I can't wait for January to be over. 

Saturday January 8th-Ice Skating

After Christmas I bought myself a "purse camera" so I wouldn't have to drag the giant DSLR around everywhere I went. I took it snowshoeing and was very pleased with the results. When we went ice skating it was all I brought. I was confident that the pictures would be fine. I had battled the big camera in the past. It's a total pain to have on the ice. It can really throw off your balance! I was so excited to only have my little camera...until I looked at the pictures. I was not pleased. We look oddly plastic. Most were fuzzy. It was a failed experiment. These are the only pictures I have though so here we go. 

We went to Peaks Arena in Provo. Out of the two rinks we've tried in Utah it's our favorite place to ice skate. ; )

Emma and Andrew waiting for the Zamboni to finish. 

It's almost time to hit the ice!

This is the first time Andrew skated without a cone or walker thing. He did rather well but he spent a fair amount of time down on the ice. At least he's smiling this year! 

Emma is getting so tall! 

The happy family. (Usually when we skate we aren't all that happy) Overall this trip was a success. Andrew started getting hungry toward the end. When he is hungry he gets very emotional. He began to fall apart and literally cried the whole way to the car and in the car to the mall. We had some things to return to the Provo mall so we got him so food there and he was back to normal in no time. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Seriously? I'm Doing it Again?

That what I named my project 365 blog that I am doing this year. I'm actually still a little surprised that I'm doing it again.

One change, this time I don't care who has taken the picture. I want to be able to use family shots or pictures the kids have taken etc. I really hope I can stick to it. I did it once, I should be able to do it again.

Here is a link if anyone is interested. Click Here!

Two New Recipes (Both are good!)

Sorry the picture isn't better. I almost forgot to take one at all because I was starving to death. I just wanted to get busy eating.

This is Pasta Alforno. I got the recipe from here (click) It's from a blog called French Knots that I have in my google reader. She doesn't have a regular recipe for this which totally works for me! I'm a throw things in and go with it kind of girl. 

Here is the "recipe"

1 bottle Barilla marinara
One can stewed tomatoes 
Mozzarella cheese
Heavy Cream
Seasonings that you like such as Bay leaves, Italian Seasoning, Oregano, Dry onion, minced garlic
Penne pasta 
Parmesan cheese
Ground beef

She suggested using the Barilla Marinara so that's what I got. I had never bought that before. I liked it! I used one jar. I also used a store bought can of Italian flavored stewed tomatoes since that is all I (Well really Maggie, I had to borrow some) had. I dumped in at least a cup of mozzarella cheese. I don't know exact amounts, I just eyeballed it. I had some ground beef that I had browned with garlic and onions and seasoning. I threw that in the pot too. I added some bay leaves and oregano. She suggest Italian Seasoning but I don't think I used that. I them put in a whole cup of heavy cream. You are suppose to let it simmer for 20 minutes. I don't think I waited that long but it was close. 

I cooked a bag of penne pasta about half way (she said it would finish getting soft in the over) and then I drained it and put it in a baking dish. I poured the sauce over it, stirred it up and baked it. I added parmesan cheese to the top, covered it and baked it at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. 

I thought it was really yummy. I loved the cream and cheese in the sauce. They are two of my favorite things LOL! I served it with garlic bread and a nice salad and we were set. It made a lot for our family so next time I think I will try freezing half. I'm not sure it will work but it's worth a try right? Paul liked it. He's not a huge fan of ground beef or red sauces but he happily ate it. Emma liked it too. She didn't love it but liked it. For me that's enough. Andrew was at a birthday party so he didn't try it. I'm guessing he wouldn't like it since he hates most pasta dishes. 

This will probably become my go to meal for taking dinner in to someone when they are ill or have had a baby. It's mild flavor should be liked by most, unless you are Andrew, and it is a hearty comfort meal.  

The other recipe I tried is called Burning Feather's Italian Beef. I got the recipe from the message board that I spend too much time at. It is way, way, way, easy and a nice change from a regular crock pot roast. 


Mix in crock pot: 
1 (1.25 oz) envelope dry onion soup mix 
1 t. oregano 
1 t. red pepper flakes 
1 t. basil 
1 t. dried parsley 
1 large clove garlic, smashed 
3/4 cup water 

Place on mixture: 
3 lbs. Roast (I usually use a rolled beef roast or a chuck roast, whatever is on sale!) 

Cook on high all day, or until meat is tender. Turn it over every now and then if you can. If not, that's okay too! Shred the meat, let it simmer in its own juice for a while, and serve on buns or hard Italian rolls. 

This is what it looked like before it started cooking. 

This is what it looked like after it was cooked and shredded. 

My crock pot cooks extremely hot. You can actually turn things black in there so I have to be very careful. I bought the cheapest roast I could find and didn't put it in until noon so it wouldn't over cook. It wasn't as tender as it should have been by 5-6 pm but once I shredded it and got it mixed into the juices it started to tenderize more. I left it simmering while we ate and the stuff that got left behind was really good. Next time I will put it in earlier and just keep a close eye on it and add water as needed. Once it is tender I will shred it and set it to warm and let it sit. I think it will have more flavor. 

We served this on rolls with a baked potato and something else that I am totally forgetting. Hmmm. That's going to bug me. Wait! It was carrots. Roasted basil carrots. That's what it was. Anyway, Paul and I ate the leftovers for lunch the next day. I had bought some pasta salad from the deli and at it with chips. I liked it like that a lot. I think I would even eat it cold the next day if it wasn't butt freezing cold, but since it was we warmed it up. 

Andrew liked it enough to eat it but I don't think he loved it. Emma ate it too but it wasn't a favorite. Paul liked it and I liked it! Overall it's pretty amazing that we all ate it. I will make this again and again because it is so easy, you get so many meals out of it and I always have the ingredients on hand. Besides the meat (which wasn't much at all, under $10) it's a super cheap meal too considering all the servings we got out of it. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Answering a Couple of Questions

Megan B.

I tried to find out the name of the trail that I snow-shoed on with no luck. The best I can tell from Google maps is you turn on South Fork Road from Vivian Park and follow that for a long way until you get to Spring Hollow Road. (It can be easy to miss, we drove past it. If you hit a dead end turn around like we did!) It dead ends in a parking lot during the winter but there is a dirt road that may be open in the summer. Anyway we started our adventure up the hill near the dirt road. You will know it's there by the gate that can block it off.  You should be able to find the trail pretty easily since the snow is packed down. According to the picture on google maps it looks like there is a trail there in the summer too. I bet it would be gorgeous! I've also heard there is a beaver dam that you can see in the summer. It's a fun place. I hope you get to check it out.

The black line is where we went as far as I can tell.  I'm not sure how we got down off the ridge since there isn't a clear trail marked but we followed the packed snow and got back to the parking lot. Also the light spot in the meadow is what looks like a beaver dam but there is no water near it so I don't know for sure if that's it. My friend saw it years earlier but couldn't remember where. Maybe it is no longer in use? LOL!


For my pages I used Weeds and Wildflowers' Sweet and Simple kits. They have papers, elements, quick pages, etc. etc. for each and every month. I would pick them up as they came out but they are all on sale right now for 30% off. I literally just got an email saying the sale is ending soon. How's that for timing?


You are right, the mountains just come right up out of the ground, right by us. Where I live they are surrounding us. (Don't get me wrong, the valley is actually quite large) That is why our air gets so bad in the valleys. It's like we are living in a bowl and the mountains lock the bad air in. Here are a couple of images that I got from google to show the inversion. January is usually the worst month but we can get the crappy air year around.

The mountains do provide a lot of entertainment though, especially in the summer. If we ever get to move I will miss the canyons. There are downsides to it though too. There is a little road with a couple of houses behind us but then it is literally a giant mountain that is my backyard. We literally live on the side of a mountain and have the driveway to prove it! (Anyone who reads this that has seen my house knows what I am talking about!) We get extra snow and slightly colder temperatures up here and we share the area with a lot of animals. We see deer all the time. We hear coyotes all summer long. There have been mountain lion sightings as well as wild minks. Oh and tarantulas. Ewww!

Where I grew up in Northern California we had rolling hills in the distance. You could drive into the Sierra Nevada's but even those don't shoot straight up like they do here. I think the mountains are spectacular but suppose I prefer the landscapes of my youth. I also like knowing that there is an ocean near. I really don't ever think Utah will feel like home and honestly I don't think I want it to. One of these days I will get to follow my heart and move back east. I just want to try it out. I can't explain it. For now please keep posting your pictures. I will live vicariously through you.

Thanks all for reading my blog. It means a lot to me! Have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

When Will I Learn?

Once again I was caught off guard. Paul got a code for a free photo book. I only had a few days to throw one together. I feel like I have been working my fingers to the bone and I was even using quick pages! Thank you Weeds and Wildflowers for helping me along.

I finished tonight, order that puppy with a few minutes to spare and realized I had a major error. I didn't put any numbers on one of the pages. Ooops.

There was a cancel button under order history and I pressed it. I uploaded the fixed page and re-submitted the order. The code worked again. Truthfully I was shocked. Now I have to wait to see if I end up with two books or just one.

I'm so bug eyed right now from staring at this computer I wouldn't catch a typo if it jumped off the screen and smacked me in the face. If anyone sees any keep it to yourself. I truly don't want to know about it.

Now life can resume. I can do my laundry, cook dinner, read all the blogs that come up in my feed (I just deleted 192 entries because I hadn't been keeping up) and get to sleep on time. Maybe one of these years I will actually make these pages throughout the year. Nope, I don't see that happening.