Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas . . .

Christmastime is so much fun with a three year old! I can't believe how exciting these last two weeks have been with Annabelle as we have been making our Christmas preparations. We decided to get a real live Christmas tree and even though it is fairly dry these days I don't regret it. Annabelle had a great time decorating it and sits and looks at it every day. 
Last week we spent an entire day wrapping presents, not that it takes that long, BUT when Annabelle and I are doing it together we just take our time. I think her favorite part was designing individual gift tags for each present/person. It was a blast - one of the best days I have ever had as a mom. 
For the last couple of family home evening lessons we have been focusing on teaching Annabelle about Christ's birth. This week we pulled our nativity off the shelf and added each piece as we told the story. I think Annabelle is catching on to what Christmas is all about. She loves singing Christmas songs. Her favorite one this week is "Angels We Have Heard on High" because of the 'glo -o -o -o -o -o -o -o -o - o ria's. I think she listened to it 20 or 30 times on Sunday. Luckily we like that one a lot too. 
I am excited to celebrate Christ's birth and am grateful for this holiday to remind me of what a great gift His life is to me. I hope you all have a bright and wonderful Christmas enjoyed with family, friends and of course good treats!

Thankful for Thanksgiving

I can't believe I never posted about our wonderful Thanksgiving. We were lucky enough to be the get away spot for Mike's parents, his younger brother who is 19 and his older brother and his wife and son. It was wonderful to get to play, eat and relax together. The weather cooled off and that was great for getting out and seeing some of the desert that my nephew was stoked about. 

Oh and my pumpkin pies turned out (if you remember my previous post). 

Friday, December 5, 2008

Superficial Christmas Tag

Alright - my friend Sara created this tag and she is the one that said it was suerficial, not me - - but she tagged me and I tried to avoid it, but she is prodding. So here goes, these are her instructions: This is strictly superficial. I want you guys to tell me about your desire for an angora sweater or china plates. If you are tagged you have to list at least ten material wishes and tag ten people.
1. A stylish and comfy new couch with 3 cushions. We have a love seat and that works out best for our apartment and is good shape but then we can't really sit together very comfortably.
2. Oh that new couch is very appreciated but it takes up too much space in my living room, could I have a wider living room to accommodate the couch?
3. Perfect. Now to tie the room together I want a big luxurious area rug.
4. Have I mentioned that all of this needs to be easily washable? Stain resistant? Can not absorb odors? good. 
5. Let's paint an accent wall and then get out of this very livable living room.
6. A vacation that is relaxing yet adventurous. I want it to be laid back but I don't want to get bored. Could someone else make my bed? Let's go to a beach or snowboarding.
7. A haircut cut with a style that is flattering and low maintenance. Maybe that guy from "What Not to Wear" could cut my hair.
8. I want a walking partner for Christmas. The weather is perfect, my sweats are usually on - but I won't be out walking if I don't have someone to gab with.
9. Oh and while I'm at it I want my old scrap booking/craft group back. I liked meeting every week. Out of the house and with plenty of table space. 
10. Okay Sara I have stretched myself thin here - one more . . . oh - here we go,  not that I would actually enjoy them, but my primary kids might appreciate if I took voice lessons. 

I tag . . . Amy, Whitney (really just so I can change mine to all the cute stuff she finds on Etsy), Keri-Anne, all of the White Gables gals, Nicole & Nichole, is an Ogden reading this? if so I tag you, my sisters, and anyone else who wouldn't find this painful. Ha ha - that was 10 right?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Harvest Creamy Corn "Choup" with Parsley

I realize that a harvest soup recipe now is a little late in the season, BUT it is finally soup weather here, so I will share it anyway. I love this soup because it is delicious, I usually have at least half of the ingredients in my house before I decide that I want to make it AND because it freezes really really well. I usually make this full recipe, have leftovers the next day and freeze 2 sandwich bags for later (wether it be for us or a last minute dinner to someone else). Also - the popcorn on top . . . so fun and so good! Oh and go all out on fresh herbs if you want, but I just use the dry version. Here are the ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4-5 large ears corn, scraped from cob or 1 box frozen corn (I just use a can of corn)
  • 1 medium or 2 small zucchini, chopped - DON'T skip this, so so good
  • 1 pound small potatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley (a couple of generous handfuls), chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • A few dashes of hot sauce, to taste
  • Oyster crackers or white cheddar popcorn, to pass at the table

Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat with the EVOO. Add bacon to hot EVOO and cook until crisp at edges. Add onion, corn, zucchini, potatoes and bell pepper as you get them chopped, then add the bay leaf, thyme and paprika. Cook for 7-8 minutes to begin to soften.

Sprinkle flour around the pot, stir and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the stock and let it come up to a bubble and thicken up a bit, then stir in the milk, cream and parsley and simmer for 5 minutes.

Season the soup with salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste and serve with crackers or popcorn to float on top. 

Credit once again goes to Rachael Ray

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Winter in AZ

So, I am not much of a blogger (this is Mike) but I thought I would let everyone know how life is hear in AZ in the winter time.  The weather is amazing, it has been in the 70's for the last week, and we see nothing but sunshine.  It is vastly different from what we are used to.  I do miss the snow, but it is nice to be able to wear shorts in november, and to hike with only a water bottle and not have to worry about bad weather rolling in.  Sure there are the thoughts of rattle snakes and scorpions, but I have yet to see either.  

Below is a picture of one of the local parks, the cactus (Saguaros) are nearly 30 feet tall. 


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pumpkin Pie; An Illustrated Experience

I earned a whole new homemaking achievement badge this week as I COOKED a pumpkin to make pumpkin pies. Well, almost. The pie mix is frozen in a bag in the freezer to be used for Thanksgiving. So no pies yet, but pretty close. My mom has made pumpkin pies from fresh pumpkins for years now, so I thought it was worth a shot. We are lucky enough to have some of our favorite Sherwoods coming for Thanksgiving, and this was just about the only part of the feast that I thought I could prepare this far in advance. 
I waited until after Halloween, when the pumpkin prices dropped and I snatched up a cheap pumpkin for this experiment. My mom always cooks hers in a pressure cooker, which only takes about 15 minutes. I don't have a pressure cooker so after scooping out the goop I cut up the pumpkin small enough that the pieces would fit in a baking dish, I put a little water in the bottom, covered it with foil and set it to bake for about an hour at 400 degrees. 

Then the pumpkin was soft enough to peel the skin off and puree the 'meat'.  From this point on  it was as simple as making cookies. I just measured out the pumpkin pie ingredients and poured the pie mix into freezer bags. The pumpkin I used made enough puree for 5 pumpkin pies.
 I gave 3 pies away since I didn't have quite that much space in my freezer.  
(And Mike doesn't like pumpkin pie, so besides Thanksgiving, I won't be needing any pie mix)
I guess we'll see how they turn out in a couple of weeks, but the mix did smell delicious!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Making Halloween, Making Halloween . . . "

As I'm sure many of your houses are in a spin of Halloween preparation, we are also getting ready. I tried and tried to convince Annabelle to let me make her up in this chicken costume from the Martha Stewart website
But after about a month I still couldn't convince her, and Annabelle never wavered with her desire to be a cat. So I gave in. Cute, determined kid! So we've got the cat costume put together now.
The funny thing is that she loves dogs and is usually really scared of cats!

Last night we carved our pumpkin. Looks A LOT like last year's design, I guess Annabelle's picks for what shape the nose and eyes should be took root at an early age.
With the weather being so warm here we've decided to keep it on our kitchen table until later in the week. I wouldn't want to bake it!
My favorite part of it all is baking the pumpkin seeds, soo yummy. Last year I discovered a Worcestershire sauce recipe and stuck with that again this year. Perhaps it these will be our new traditions: Star eyes on our Jack o lantern and baking our seeds with Worcestershire sauce. Some traditions are designed on purpose. Others are born because the holiday is just better that way.
Have a safe and fun Halloween!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Get the Hint

So I need to update my blog apparently, since I've been tagged TWICE today :) No worries, this is a good push to get me back on here. So here goes the latest chain mail . . .

8 Favorite TV Shows:
Sesame Street (1986)
AFN {Armed Forces Network - the only channel we had for 3 years} (1991) 
Captain Planet (1994)
Touched by an Angel (1996)
Whatever taped shows my Grandpa sent us in Germany, mostly Star Trek {we had no TV} (1998)
The Rosie O'Donnell Show (2000)
ER (2002)
The Office (this week at least)

8 Things I Did Yesterday:
Checked Email, Facebook, Blogs
Went to Park to meet my Visiting Teach-ee
Drove a friend to an appointment
Hit up a case lot sale at a grocery store
Checked the Mail
Laid on the couch
Ate the yummy stir fry that Mike made
Helped Mike clean the kitchen

8 Things I Look Forward to:
Putting up Christmas lights at the Temple
Paul, Shauna, Jake, Sam, Kristin and Isaac coming for Thanksgiving
Warm weather this winter
Getting my cavities filled
Snowboarding in Colorado
Mike's commute going from 1 hour to 5 minutes
Nona (my Italian Grandma) coming to visit
Adam & Trudy having their little boy

8 Favorite Restaurants:
Chen's Noodle House (Orem)
Panera Bread (Colordo)
Cafe Rio 
Shangri La
Samurai Sam's
Pita Pit

8 Things on My Wish List:
To be caught up on my scrapbooking
To be fluent in Spanish
To go to Argentina
To learn/remember how to make my Nona' Gnocchi
To work in the Therapeutic Rec field later in life
To go on a mission
To have a dark room to develop photos
To have 12 more kids (Ha ha, maybe 5)

8 People to Tag:
If you know my real name
If you have had pizza in the last 5 days
If you can finish this lyric "It seems to me that 'maybe' it pretty much always means __"
If you have a G in your name
If you have lived in another country
If your favorite number is 17
If you are in Med School
If have ever taught/substituted Public school

The 4th picture from the 4th picture folder (or event as Mac users would say)
No, I was NOT thrilled when this was the photo in the 4th of 4th place. But never the less I posted it - SO no matter what photo is yours, you should know that you can post it too. So clearly, this is toward the end of my pregnancy with Annabelle. My mom reminded me to take some pictures. I'm so glad I did . . . sick!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Political Shenanigans

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


shenan i gans {shə-ˈna-ni-gənz}
plural noun informal
silly or high-spirited behavior; mischief

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Our First September in Arizona

One thing that we are really loving about September in Arizona is going outside! There are so many wonderful city parks with playgrounds and splash parks and we are beginning to take advantage of them. Our weather is on average 10 to 15 degrees cooler these days. Not hitting 100 EVERY single day of the week has been so nice. This has especially been appreciated since the pool at our apartment complex hasn't been open in over a month! 
We are starting to feel autumn in our own way here. This is the first autumn in over 20 years that neither Mike or I have been starting school and even though we decided not to start preschool yet, we got into the 'back to school' feel with Annabelle starting some little classes of her own. Sometimes I worry that she might be too distracted to listen to and follow directions but I just remind myself that she isn't quite 3 yet and her teachers are probably used to it!
Mike seems to really understanding a lot more at work now. I can tell because he talks in his sleep and most of the time he rambles off some work jargon that goes right over my head. He is busy a lot of the time that he is at work and if he has any down time at work he has his 'green belt' project to work on. This project is a requirement to be 'green belt' certified in a management strategy called Six Sigma. I'm so relieved that he likes what he is doing. I guess the last couple years I've had this little fear that he wouldn't like his field and we'd be back to the student life! But engineering really suits him. I married one smart cookie. 

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I've been wanting to chop it all off for several months - mostly because it was too heavy, too hot and I was bored with the ponytail. So yesterday Mike TOLD me to go into the salon while he did the grocery shopping to see if they had any appointments. I'm so glad he did. I got 8 inches off so that I could donate it and I love it. Hopefully I can replicate the style myself this week. We'll see I suppose.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Four Things

Four Random Things I like about my husband:
(0r guys in general)
1. Being outside makes him happy, pretty much no matter what else is going on.

2. He has an engineering mind (he designed and sewed his own backpack).
3. He hasn't owned a pair of jeans in over a decade, talk about being true to yourself. 
4. He loves 'his girls'. 

Four Jobs I've had:
1. Chinese place in the mall: organizer of plastic silverware
2. Samurai Sam's: the bossy girl
3. Teen's with disabilities summer day camp: counselor
4. City of Colorado Springs Therapeutic Recreation: intern

Four Movies I've watched more than once:
1. I am Sam
2. Letter Factory (more than once? try hundreds of times)
3. Dan in Real Life
4. Whale Rider

Four TV shows I watch:
1. Dirty Jobs
2. Wipe Out
3. Jon and Kate plus 8
4. most recently - Project Runway

Four Places I've been:
1.  buried in a pile of leaves laughing
2. climbing up the side of a cliff without shaking
3. on an operating table smiling
4. flying down a mountain in zero degree weather in complete bliss

Four people who email me regularly:
1. Mike
2. the Relief Society
(I admit it, I'm a bad pen pal, no one emails me b/c I am terrible at writing back)

Four of my favorite foods:
2. mashed potatoes with brown gravy
3. gummies
4. bean enchiladas

Four places I would like to visit:
1. Argentina
2. New Zealand
3. Tibet
4. Mexico

Four things I am looking forward to in the coming year:
1. House Hunting (with a little terror, but still looking forward to it)
2. making my first Thanksgiving dinner
3. playing outside ALL winter
4. watch Annabelle grow and learn even more

Four people I tag:
1. Holly because I know she is home bored wishing she had more to do to keep her busy
2. Nichole because she needs to post again
3.  Anyone who is related to me and wants to
4. Whoever has tried the cinnamon roll recipe

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cinnamon Buns

My friend from living in Provo, Shelsea has a lot of great tried and true recipes and craft ideas. One thing she is really famous for is her Cinnamon rolls. The basic dough recipe can be use for buns, scones, doughnuts, and other doughnut variations. I never have tried any other treat besides the cinnamon rolls, they are just too tempting!
Here is the recipe:
(this is the recipe cut in half, and it is STILL more than you could ever eat, so beware - you'll either want to half it again, plan on giving them away or freeze them after you roll them up and save them for later)
4 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp yeast
1/2 cup oil
enough flour to make soft dough (approx. 10 cups)
1 Tbsp salt
4 eggs beaten well

Beat eggs and set aside. Put warm water in a large mixer add sugar and sprinkle on the yeast. Let it sit for 10 min. Add oil and some flour. Mix well. Add beaten eggs with more flour alternating and mix well. Add more flour and sprinkle in the salt. Mix adding flour until the dough  comes away clean. Put dough into an oiled bowl and roll to coat. Cover with saran or an air tight lid and let raise to double it's size.

Roll risen dough into a rectangle of a desired size. (it may be too sticky to put directly onto the counter, if so consider spreading saran wrap or dough mat of some kind). Spread the dough with butter, spread with brown sugar and sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll dough up and cut into pinwheels (I like to use dental floss for this part) and place on parchment lined baking pan. Let raise until double in size. Bake at 350 about 15 min. Take out of oven just long enough to put *topping on and return to the oven and bake until the topping bubbles all over (time will vary depending on size of pan/rolls). 

*Topping: equal parts of whipping cream and brown sugar, stir until mixed completely. Apply to rolls with the back of a large spoon and spread a thin layer on top.

After baking is done apply icing. I prefer a cream cheese icing.
Blend together:  1 pkg cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
powdered sugar (add until consistency is no longer runny)
milk (don't add too much or else you'll have to had A LOT of powdered sugar)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

He is Home!

My little brother David returned from his mission to Peru this month and so  Annabelle and I went home for 10 days. Mike, Adam (my older brother) and his wife Trudy  {who is pregnant - hip hip hurray} were all able to join us for the weekend that David spoke in church. We had a great trip, spent lots of time with family and it was cool enough I even put on my sweatshirt a few times (rain in 60 degree weather). Here are some highlights:

David coming home of course was the main event of my time spent in Colorado. At first he seemed to be a little uncomfortable around us, I think because we are a lot louder and rowdier than the polite Peruvians he has been living with but he got used to us and caught up on sleep (due to layovers and canceled flights I think he traveled for about 30 hours). 

Annabelle warmed up to him after a few days and asked me a few times if he was going back to Peru or not. I was glad to inform her that he was not, his plans now are to return to BYU and work on a degree in Bio-informatics (sp?).

My grandma, Nona if you have met her, came up with the idea of taking Annabelle to the North PoleThe North Pole is a little amusement park up in the mountains west of Colorado Springs. It is perfect for younger kids with fun rides and no lines. And because it is in the mountains the temperatures are nice in the summer and not too crowded. 

Although Annabelle wasn't afraid of the crazy fast and twirling rides or even the ferris wheel (the world's highest, by the way) She wouldn't sit on Santa's lap! And they had a really good, white bearded, blue twinkling eyed Santa available. Oh well!

Over the weekend that the ENTIRE McKean family was in town we went on a hike to a spot we have hiked to since I was probably only a year old. And of course had to take the opportunity to get some professional family pictures taken.

Went to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo . . .

And of course we had some good down time to play with Grandparents. At the McKean house that meant eating ALL of the raspberries out of the garden each morning. And at the Sherwood's that meant either reading dozens of books or taking a quick little dip in the fountain with Papa Zeke.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


(Photo credit to Joyanna)

An update is long over due. I am happy to report this time that it is due to having such a great time that I never stopped to blog. Check back soon and I'll have my camera uploaded and my writing juices flowing. 

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Settled In

I would have to say that we are pretty much settled in and getting back into the rhythm of regular life again. Mike has been working for almost a month and is getting the hang of it. I thought it was funny that Mike's mentor referred to him as an intern for the first little bit. Mike is working in product quality, which means he just helps deal with something different everyday. Beyond that . . .  you'd have to ask him.
Annabelle and I are finding things to do. We like to swim a lot. Most often we enjoy an after dinner swim when we can avoid the sun and get that last bit of energy out before bed time. 
Last week I got a new hair straightener and Annabelle understood that I have straight hair and that hers is curly, so after some persuasion I straightened her hair - or what I could with the straightener on low heat (I was worried about damaging her light wispy hair). She thought it was pretty funny, it looks more wavy than anything else. Take a look:
Brushed out and Frizzy

We are starting to get our footings as far as local things to do. We have enjoyed the local library. I never knew that I felt like I needed to finish a book regardless of whether or not I have enjoyed it, but after a few uninteresting reads I found one I liked and finished it is 2 days. It is 'The Choice" by Nicholas Sparks (author of The Notebook, Message in a Bottle and A Walk to Remember). After that read I picked up "Dear John" but have put off starting to read it so that I make sure I am spending some time with Mike this weekend. I really get sucked in.
There is also a local toy store that has an open play time for 2 hours on 2 mornings a week. We have gone once and it was pretty crazy and after 2 hours their store was in major need of some organization but it was really fun for the kids and I even got to meet some other Moms.