Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm Not Pointing Any Fingers . . .

. . . but sometimes I identify with the lazy chef mentality. Food can be delicious and satisfying but I don't always feel like making dinner, let alone making it from scratch. I'm not pointing any fingers but maybe someone else reading this can relate. That is why I was thrilled to find that my friend Rachel and her awesome sisters had started a recipe blog entitled 'Forced to Cook'. Each sister has been blessed with and developed many talents, but enjoying the cooking process is not one of them. But now they are married and supporting their little families and hard working husbands requires a little culinary effort.
So far my favorite recipe has been Chicken Tamale Casserole. We have made it 3-4 times already. So so good. I recently passed along a few of my favorite recipes that I would consider minimal effort, maximum results. I got them from my sisters-in-law, so you know they're good.
Anyway, next time you are making up a dinner menu before you go to the grocery store or just at ends of what to make for dinner, check it out. It has become one of my most visited recipe blogs.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The 28 Days of February

1. I made cupcakes for the first time ever. Or at least the first time I can remember. They were Gingerbread Cupcakes with Caramelized Mango Buttercream. Recipe here. Warning: Intermediate rating on this website might be code for intense.
2. I've been crafting a little more, scrap booking and Valentine making.
3. Asa stopped rolling and squirming to get around. He started off this month by walking his hands out in front of him and then hopping and wiggling to get his knees up under his chest. Hilarious to watch.
4. Mike was called as the Young Men's president. He is pretty excited to go hiking and get to know the guys in our ward.
5. Annabelle started paying attention to commercials. She doesn't realize the intention of advertising and repeats lines from commercials when she thinks the particular product might improve our lives. For example Mike and I were discussing finances and she piped up "You should call them, they can lower you payments, maybe even cut them in half". My parents bought a new mattress and she asked if it was a sleep number bed "because if you have a bad bed you should get a sleep number bed, it is the best one". And of course when I got a migraine she suggested buying Nyquill.
6. Oh yeah, I got a migraine this month. Random.
7. During a storm this month a tree in our backyard blew over. I thought I'd have to go back there and cut it up and throw it out but super Mike went back there, pushed it back upright and tied it to the fence. How manly.
8. Asa cut two more teeth. He now has four teeth on top and two on the bottom.
9. Annabelle was really excited (as we all were) for Mike's parents and brother to come visit. Every night for a few weeks before their arrival she prayed that their plane wouldn't crash.
10. Asa became keenly interested in some dangerous/gross things around the house, namely, the electrical sockets, the chemical cupboard, the trash cans in the bathrooms, the power strip over by the computer and my mop bucket.
11. Mike's parents and brother Jake came to visit! They came for a long weekend and we enjoyed having them. They spoiled us and we loved seeing them. It was awesome to have them stay with us, see the new house and play.
12. Jake, Mike's brother just came home from his mission in Montana and Wyoming. He served in a lot of small towns and had some great experiences. We loved getting to see him, hear stories about his mission and he got to meet Asa.
13. We went on a hike while our family was in town. We drove out to Gold Canyon. Annabelle did a great job on the 3 miler and Asa enjoyed his first hike - being carried in the backpack of course.
14. We also went to a train park with the Sherwoods. Once again, great weather, great fun, a picnic lunch, a train ride and a carousel ride or two.
15. Annabelle really enjoyed her first Valentines party. Her preschool did a Valentines exchange. She brought nerds candy for her classmates and wrote her name on every single one.
16. I made Mike a Valentine this year (yes that is mentionable all by itself). We typically don't celebrate Valentines Day very much. But when I saw this I just had to try it. I enjoyed using a hammer, wire cutters, nails and a little elbow grease while crafting. I think Mike was impressed as well as surprised.
It reads"light of my life", which I didn't come up with, even though it is true.
17. Asa started crawling while Mike's parents were here. He figured out he whole alternating knee thing. Now he is pretty fast.
18. Asa had his first Oreo. Yum.
19. We had our friends the Woods and Stevens over for a cheese themed dinner. It is great to see friends from our old neighborhood. They were sweet enough to drive out here and hang out for a while. I'm sure there is an appropriate saying about old and new friends but I can't remember it.
20. We found another fun place for pictures: A free train museum in Chandler. So don't worry, we didn't set the kids on active train tracks for these pictures.
21. I'm a little crazy about Design Sponge. If I knew how to pull up statistics on my computer it would probably tell you that I checked it 200 times this month. Probably. There are all kinds of featured ideas and designers. Take a look at this Emily Hensen design. I love it. I just made my first bird house. Maybe one day I'll paint a tree on the wall in the play room.
22. I had friends over to be crafty a couple of times. It is so much more fun to create something when you've got a friend to chat with and the kids can entertain each other.
23. Asa has become a little bit of a pest since he learned to crawl. One day in particular he pulled our lamp over a handful of times, slowed dinner and lunch production by constantly opening the cupboards and can crawl at top speeds. We spent then next Saturday installing a gate at the top of the stairs, latches on the cupboards and anti-fray stuff on the edge of the carpet so that he would stop pulling out the threads and eating them. Have I mentioned Asa keeps my busy??!? But I can't get enough of that kid.
24. My nephew Jeremiah turned one. First birthdays are awesome to celebrate. We were sad to not live closer to them. I started the tradition of making my nieces and nephews an Alphabet book personalized with all the members of their extended family representing each letter. J my name is Jeremiah was fun to make and I hope it holds up to years of reading. Happy Birthday Jeremiah!
25. I found a new blog to follow, started by one of my good friend Rachel, and her two sisters. It is called Forced to Cook, and is a recipe blog for the lazy chef. I've submitted my favorite quick and delicious recipes. Who knows, maybe I'll be lucky enough to be featured.
26. It is highly likely that in the 28 days of February, that this is the only picture taken of our family photographer:
Sorry Mike! I'll be sure to take the camera out of your hands more often this month.
27. I'm sorry, these are getting a little desperate towards the end of the list. It rained. Fast fact: Arizona has had more rain this year than it had in all of last year. Fascinating, I know.
28. I have texting on my phone plan. Or at least I think I do.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Rest of January

After returning from our trip it felt like we had been gone just about as long as we had lived in our new house. I felt like I had to get reacquainted and settle back into it. Even though we were all unpacked when we left, we hadn't really started any home improvement projects. I'm sure if I mapped it out we could do projects every weekend for a year, but we are taking it in stride and starting off slow. So we painted an accent wall in the living room, hung pictures, re caulked the bathrooms and pruned the bushes in the backyard.

I was pretty excited to do some painting, but Asa needed to be distracted and fed while the painting was going on, so I got bumped off the project and Mike and Annabelle did most of it. In case you didn't know my favorite color is green. So far I'm not sick of it. I'll have to remember to post some finished project pictures soon.
Another huge happening in the house in January was teething. Asa cut his top two teeth in January. Nothing like two little teeth to change the way a baby looks! He seems to be a pretty good teether. I think he only cried at night once. Mostly he is just a little moody and has a really runny nose. Asa enjoyed getting around the house more this month by rolling and shifting around. I couldn't always figure out how he was getting there but he did.
I moved Annabelle to a new preschool this month as well. I was getting tired of driving her all the way back and forth to her old one. We really like her new one. The program is much different. I feel like she is learning more and I am glad that she is making friends with some kids that live around here and some are even in our ward. Of course, her favorite time is recess, but she also seems to like that she gets to bring homework home once a week. Don't worry, it isn't mandatory, they are preschoolers after all!

One of the funnest things we did in January was thanks to Annabelle. She saw a commercial for the Glendale Glitter and Glow Block Party and asked if we could go. The event, parking and shuttle were free so we just had to go! Haha, but it was awesome. It is in a historic walking district in Glendale and they leave up the 1.5 million Christmas lights and then have 24 hot air balloons tethered in the streets lighting up every time they ignite their torches. Add live bands, street performers and awesome carnival food . . . we had a great time. We even got to watch them set up several of the balloons. I highly recommend it to anyone in AZ in mid January.
Another huge happening around here in January was rainstorms! We easily got more rain and flooding from these winter storms than we had last monsoon season. I liked it because it made it feel more wintery. But after a few days it would clear up and we could enjoy being outside again. Kinda the best of both worlds. Luckily, unlike in a lot of other parts of the state, we didn't suffer any damage from the storms. Because of the monsoon season at the end of the summer, there are a lot of runoff areas to accommodate all the rainwater. A lot of times they make these areas into grassy neighborhood parks. Here is one that Mike found serving it's purpose. There were even ducks swimming around in it.
At the end of the month we caught a warm day and went to the zoo with some friends. It was our last chance to use our zoo pass before it was going to expire and it was awesome. The only animal that Asa noticed was the elephant. He watched her sway and walk around. My friend distracted him enough to get him to look away for a second to get this picture.

Annabelle and her little friend stuck together, talked most of the time and tried to ditch the old ladies and babies a time or two (wether or not it was intentional or not is still up for debate). Anna's favorite animal was yet again, the diaper rash monkeys!

Well that was January, whew! I'll get caught up soon :)