Sunday, August 24, 2014


I've stopped having the Walmart dreams. This is monumental. It means my inner psyche and outer psyche (totally a real thing) have united in agreement that it's time to stop making a mental list of everything I miss at home and start focusing on the list of everything I love and will miss about this place. High on that list is being geographically nestled in between the beach and the mountains. I don't think there are many places where you can hit the snowboard and the surfboard in the same day. Given there's a certain level of crazy involved to make you want to do both. But my point is you could. We were sad that last winter we didn't make it to the mountain because all our extra cash was spent up buying life necessities such as pee stained mattresses and kitchen tables covered in cat hair. We decided to make up for it this time around, so here's our snow day take II. The drive up there is odd. A part of me feels bad for this little resort that could (of course this coming from a girl who feels bad for Siri if the kids start teasing her. Artificial intelligence have feelings too). I've just never driven through dirt roads and prairie land to reach a ski resort, it seems sort of sad.

The sleds were all rented out, but it was fine because we came prepared with all the fixings for a right proper snowman. We were pretty proud of our little guy. The ratio of snowmen to children pictures would make you think I gave birth to it. I will admit that I did have the maternal instinct to cradle it under my protective wing when other kids were sledding near.

Look at the way he so delicately holds his little stick hand. He named him Ryder.

Taking selfies with a snowman. As one does.

Ryder's bucket list also involved a snow ball fight. 

Yeah, this happened. I guess I was asking for it. If only his aim in the toilet were as good as his aim with a snowball.

Maddox took a break from boarding to build a bwuddo snowman. He tried so hard to make the head look like Olaf. Do you wanna build a snowmaaaaan...your welcome, now you can think of me 20 minutes from now when you still have that song stuck in your head.

While we were waiting for a sled Maddox wanted to hike up the mountain and slide down on his pants. Hiking in the snow in high altitude is not for the faint of heart. I sorta threw Ryder under the bus (figuratively of course) as I yelled to Maddox that he couldn't climb any higher. And then my left lung collapsed. But they had so much fun shooting down the mountain, and I got to count it as my cardio workout for the day. Or week, if we're being honest.

We perched ourselves precariously on the top of a rocky hill overlooking the ski run so that we could watch Jason and the kids come down. My fear of them causing a rockslide as they ignored my rule about not throwing rocks was outweighed only by my fear of missing a photo op of them coming down the mountain. So there we sat and waited. And took selfies. Maddox was there too, but he kept covering up my hair that was blowing ever so perfectly in the wind so I took the liberty of dismissing him from the frame. Guys, I can finally wear a beanie without looking like a boy. It was called for.

We spotted them coming down and Maddox was so impressed with how fast Jason was. All this time he had been pigeonholing his capabilities to the skills he saw on the bunny slope.

I took a few runs with the kids too (Kylie is on the right). After falling off the "lift" not once, but twice, we finally made it up. Kylie was embarrassed when a boy came up to her and told her she was good and he thought she was hot. Sometimes I question if she is really my daughter because I was always so boy crazy (I think I still have the note the neighbor boy attached to an arrow and shot into our yard. It was a marriage proposal. I didn't want to jump to any conclusions, but I will say that daisies were my bouquet of choice), but she was totally disgusted by it. That's one of the million things I like about her.

I also took a few turns with Maddox on the bunny slope and I was all like jazz hands the entire way down. He is doing awesome and absolutely loves it. Snowboarding can now be added to his official resume. Along with making fish hooks out of bobby pins.

The sky was so gloomy and overcast when we left and unfortunately the clouds were waiting for us when we got back. But it didn't dampen the mood too much. A car littered with beanies and gloves, the blast of heat thawing out cold little toes, sleeping kids worn out after a long day, pizza hut on speed dial, a setting sun and the promise of a hot shower and slippers waiting at home. Yeah, imma be right here. The one with a goofy smile on my face thinking life is pretty good these days.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A few recipes

Cooking used to be just another chore, but I told you, I've found a new love for it since we've been here. There are so many good recipes I want to share, but we're usually too hungry to stop and take pictures. Besides, an intimate photo shoot with food is kinda weird for me. I get embarrassed if Jason walks in on me in the corner gettin' all up in the enchilada's bidness. But I took one for the team here. There's no fancy staging, it's all Kmart dishes all day over here. There's also no step by step photo documentation, mostly because that would involve pictures of Maddox eating cheese by the handfuls and me gagging as I remove the fat from the roast. But here you go....

Don't be intimidated if this looks like a recipe that takes all day. In reality it is a recipe that takes all day. But it's so worth it. This is hands down the best enchiladas I've ever had. And this coming from a girl who is borderline vegetarian. Just reserve it for special occasions like the missionaries coming for dinner, a birthday, or a celebration of shaving your legs for the first time all winter. (I tweaked the meat recipe from one I found on and the sauce is one I've had forever that I use with chicken enchiladas, I can't remember where I originally got it from).

Shredded Beef Enchiladas
For the meat:
1 chuck roast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
½ Tbs tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 C beef broth
Add broth to slow cooker then add all ingredients, except for roast and mix together. Add the roast and cook on high for 5-6 hours, remove meat and shred, removing any fat, then return to slow cooker. Reduce heat to Low, and continue cooking for 2 to 4 hours. Transfer the meat to a large skillet and add 1-2 cups of the liquid. Saute on high until all the liquid has been absorbed, adding any necessary seasonings to taste.
For the enchilada sauce:
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon canola oil
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons sugar
2 (8-oz) cans tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese
12 flour tortillas
Preheat oven to 400. Remove meat from skillet and set aside. In skillet combine the onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and oil. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onions have softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook until fragrant, less than 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Bring to a simmer. Remove about half the sauce and set aside for the top. Stir the shredded beef into the remaining sauce in the pan. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 10 minutes. Stack the tortillas on a plate and cover with plastic wrap; Microwave on high about 40-60 seconds. Spoon the meat mixture evenly down the center of each tortilla then tightly roll and lay seam-side down in a greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Pour the reserved sauce evenly over the top of the enchiladas and top with the shredded cheese. Cover dish with foil and bake 20 minutes, or until heated through. Remove foil and bake another 5-10 minutes, until cheese browns. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream, shredded lettuce, olives and diced tomatoes.

Muffins are a staple around here. For breakfast, for after school snacks, for road trips, for Jason to take to work for morning tea. That morning tea is a legit business around here. I've got some pretty great muffin recipes up my sleeve, but this one takes the cake. Or the muffin? (source:

Glazed Apple Crumb Muffins
Crumb topping:
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk 
1 1/2 cups peeled, chopped apple (2 small apples)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 Tablespoons heavy cream 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

First, make the crumb topping. In a medium bowl, combine both sugars, the cinnamon, and melted butter then stir in the flour. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. In a medium bowl beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat on high until creamed, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract and mix well. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and slowly whisk together. Add the milk, gently whisking. Fold in the apples. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full with batter then sprinkle with crumbs (crumble it with your hands to make some big chunks). Bake at 350F  for 15-20 minutes or until just lightly beginning to brown. To make the glaze, whisk all of the ingredients together and drizzle over warm muffins. 

Jason and Kylie are devoted hawaiian pizza fans. Every weekend we get pizza hut. A cheese for me and all three boys and a hawaiian one for Kylie and Jason to have all to themselves. For our anniversary I wanted to venture outside the grilled cheese and tomato sandwich box and do something a little special for lunch. And special it was. This was a huge hit and immediately made it into the recipe archives. (the bacon only comes in strips here, it would be much easier to flip if it were in slices) (source:

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese
Bread slices
Jack cheese
Pineapple rings
Canadian bacon
Parsley flakes
Soften butter, mix in parsley, oregano and parmesan then spread on to one side of each slice. Place in skillet, add cheese slices, Canadian bacon and pineapple (use paper towel to absorb juice before putting on sandwich) then add more cheese slices and top with other slice of bread. Cook over low heat until lightly browned then flip and cook on the other side.

And you get a two-fer on this one. The absolute best chicken soup (and this is coming from Jason who is most definitely not a soup person), and these bread bowls that my friend Chelsea introduced into my life and I have never been the same. It is the perfect comfort food that has gotten me through many long cold dreary winter nights. Be sure to use Rotisserie chicken and not just shredded chicken breasts, it makes all the difference. (source:

Creamy Rotisserie Chicken Soup
      For the roux:
      4 T flour
      2 T olive oil
      2 T butter
      make the roux by heating the oil and butter in pot then sprinkling the flour on top. Whisk together for a few minutes.Take off the heat and set aside while combining other ingredients. 
      For the soup:
      2 T butter
      2 T olive oil
      2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
      1 C frozen corn
      2 potatoes, diced
      1 yellow onion - diced
      4 cups chicken stock or broth
      3 cups milk or cream or half & half, or a combination
      2tsp chicken base granules
      1 t fresh cracked pepper
      1 tsp kosher or sea salt
      1 T dried parsley or 2 T fresh parsley
     3 bay leaves
     1½ t dried basil
      2 cloves garlic, minced
      1 deli rotisserie chicken, shredded
      shredded cheese to sprinkle on top

      Start by making the roux. In a large pot, saute the potatoes, carrots and onions in 2 T olive oil and 2 T butter until softened (add the onions at the end). Add all other ingredients including the roux, stir well. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat to low and let simmer 20-30 minutes until the soup thickens to the desired consistency, stirring every few minutes. If you need to thicken the soup a little, mix together some cornstarch with milk then stir into the soup. Before ready to serve, take out the bay leaves, pour into bowls and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

       Bread Bowls 
      2 Tbs yeast
        2 Tbs sugar
       3/4 Tbs salt
        2 C warm water
        2 Tbs olive oil
        5 C flour
        Cornmeal (optional)

      Preheat oven to 400. Mix water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Mix remaining ingredients, then add water and yeast mixture. Knead together, adding more flour until no longer sticky. Cover and let the dough rise until doubles in size (about 30 minutes). Grease 2 cookie sheets and sprinkle with corn meal. Punch down the dough and make 6 tennis ball size dough balls. Place on cookie sheet (don't let them touch). Let them rise for another 30 minutes. Bake at 400 for 18 minutes. Cut off the top and scoop out the inside then fill with your favorite soup.

I remember it was such a treat when my mom would buy french toast sticks for us. I can still taste the maple flavoring and remember the film it would leave in my mouth. The kids inherited my love for them and could inhale a Costco sized box in no time at all. When I came across this recipe it was one of those "duh, why didn't I think of that?" moments. We make regular french toast all the time, but turning them into french toast dippers has upped the ante and opened new doors for breakfasts on the go and after school snacks. We take our after school snacks very seriously around these parts. (source:

French Toast Sticks
8 slices white Texas Toast bread
5 eggs
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ C brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 Tablespoons butter
Powdered sugar
Maple syrup
Cut each slice of bread into 4 equal strips.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, whipping cream, vanilla, brown sugar and cinnamon.  In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Dip each piece of bread in egg mixture, let excess drip off and place in skillet.  Once one side is golden brown, flip over and cook the other side until golden brown and crispy on the outside (add more butter between batches if necessary).  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with maple syrup.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

And so....

Sunday brunch with cinnamon scones, a breeze through open windows, white sheets hanging on the line, sleeping boys with trucks nestled in chubby fists, a freshly vacuumed car, slipping into yoga pants after a hot shower. This is me stopping to thank Him for the rain while still on my ever loving rainbow quest. This is me finding joy in the every day. (As seen mostly by my phone, so please do expect the highest of quality). Pictures from Maddox with this description: "you know on cartoons when something is so amazing it looks like it's going to explode? This is you surrounded by that kind of explosion". It made my day. It made my entire year.

First time readers. We've made it past the painful stage where it takes five minutes to read one word and you want to cry when you see it's a 17 page book. Or maybe that's just me. He's now cruising right through his little readers and my favorite is that they read them aloud as a class so he pronounces some of the words with a kiwi accent."I 'sawr' a sleepy bear"...

Big brothers helping little brothers get dressed when they had a broken arm.

Date night at our favorite Thai container. It's freezing cold and the BYOB means we're sipping water out of a blue plastic water bottle with the top chewed half off. But man that pad thai hits just the right spot.

A sunny mid-winter day. It's colder than it looks, I watched them behind a double paned window with the fire blazing, but it kept them well entertained as they washed all their toys. We still can't get the water out of his dump truck wheels.

Maybe not a reason for rejoicing, but it sure makes me appreciate the huge garbage cans that got picked up each week back home. This thing is half the size and only gets picked up every other week. The cats always have a hay day with the garbage bags left on the ground that won't fit in.

Spending my days with this dude. He is one funny kid and as he gets older he is mellowing out. I think 3-4 year olds are my favorite age. Every morning he climbs into bed next to me and insists that I turn towards him so that he can see my face and then always requests to "ticko me". He's a sucker for back tickles. He is also super observant and gets weirded out if I've changed anything about my appearance. It took him a week to get used to a new purse so you can only imagine what the hair extensions did to him. He couldn't even look at me the entire first day. Every time we get in the car we have this on going dialogue about the spaceship he wants daddy to build him so that he can explore the moon. Sometimes I'm invited, sometimes it's a solo mission. He also has a problem with the 5 little monkeys swinging in the tree song. Crocodiles can't climb trees so the song makes absolute zero sense. He has since banned me from singing it.

If the sun is out and I'm feeling like a good mom we'll go to the skate park where he turns it into the world's best matchbox car racing track. And we'll bring all the bread crusts to feed the ducks. He likes to give them an entire slice and watch them fight over it.

Thankfully he is finally settling into kindy. Sometimes he still gets a little anxious when I leave, but the teachers are so good to help him. I love spying on him from the car when I come back because he is always outside and always so happy. It's usually a two sucker day, but if he cries when I leave then it's just one.

Raise your hand if this parachute brings back a flood of elementary school memories.

We had the most beautiful Saturday, it was freakishly warm. We're talking shorts and t-shirts and that usually doesn't even happen in the summer. We had the strong nor'wester so it was the perfect day for flying kites and playing football in the park.

Kylie has got quite the arm. If anyone tells Jayden he throws like his sister then that would be a compliment. Speaking of Kylie, after several months, a new itouch and a new phone, her stolen ones were turned in. Faith in humanity has been restored. Either that or they got tired of trying to figure out her password.

Maddox always likes to look fancy. Especially at church. He averages about a half a can of hairspray (I stocked up on more in the states, because the stuff here is aerosol lung cancer. I feel like I'm taking a day off my life each time a breathe it in), then licks his two fingers and tames any stray hairs on his forehead. He usually wears a bow tie and suspenders. The suspenders give him a major wedgie, but he doesn't mind. He always keeps a pen in his pocket, but he did get it confiscated for a few weeks for using it to draw his name on the primary chairs. This boy and his nerdy hipster antics are almost too much for me to handle. I mean, it's some serious "poke me with a fork I'm done" kind of cute. He also likes to make flags out of the sacrament bread.

His sweet primary teachers finished their mission and went back to Utah this week. He was in tears over it, and so was I. We have no idea who will fill their spot as teachers and as our primary pianist. Acapella is not one of our strengths. There was a farewell potluck dinner for their send off. It was not your typical ward potluck. No funeral potatoes were involved and traditional Samoan dancing was the entertainment. It was cool.

Jayden's basketball games have started and he has done awesome. Although I would expect nothing less from him. He earned player of the day at their first game. Jason hasn't missed watching a single game, even if he has to leave work in the middle of the day. I love that.

Sunday morning portraits. They made each other pose so that they could get their stick figures just right. Thankfully there were no nude portraits today. Mooning each other has become a favorite past time as of late.

And last but not least, I keep seeing glimpses of spring right around the corner. We have a single daffodil that we have watched bloom in our back yard. Ryder gets so excited to see its progress and exclaims every morning that the flower is "springing". We've almost made it through winter, we've just got to keep on springing.