Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Menu Planning

This is something helpful that my mom and I have been doing since the beginning of the year. We assigned each day of the week a theme for dinner. You could choose any theme you wanted, Mexican, Italian, Pasta, Sandwiches, Chinese, Thai, Chicken, Pork, Beef, Turkey, Light, Breakfast for Dinner, Ethnic, etc. You get the idea. This is what we came up with for our families.

Sunday- Slow Cooker
Monday- Family Favorite
Tuesday- Soup
Wednesday- Salad
Thursday- Bean or Vegetarian
Friday- Fish
Saturday- Free day

Then we get together every Friday afternoon and plan the next week of menus. We write out our shopping list and then, as early as possible on Saturday morning we go shopping while grandpa watches the kids.

Here is a sample week's menu

Sunday- Pork Tenderloin, Barley Pilaf, Broccoli
Monday- Chicken Enchiladas, Guacamole and Chips, Green Salad, Black Beans and Corn
Tuesday- Vegetable Soup, Cheese Toast, Oranges and Apples
Wednesday-Mini Cheeseburger Salad with Yellow Viniagrette, Banana Bread
Thursday-Mixed Bean Chili with Tofu, Cornbread
Friday- Pan- Seared Tilipia, Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Couscous, Zucchini and Summer Squash Saute, Grapefruit Mousse

I have found that when each day has a theme it is easier to choose a dish for dinner and when we only go shopping once a week, without the kids, I save money because I don't buy any junk (no begging and pleading from little ones) and lessen the impulse buys. Also, because I already have the dinners planned out, I don't have to run to the store during the week to grab something little because I already purchased everything I need.

Also, a note on the Chicken Tortilla stew, it is a Rachael Ray recipe and she made a quick version and a longer version where you make your own stock and everything. I posted both recipes up there but I made the extended version which took more time but it was delicious and made the house smell so good!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Gordon B. Hinckley

Last night when a friend texted me and told me that President Gordon B. Hinckley had passed away, I hadn't heard the news, so we immediately turned on the tv (advantage of living in utah) and saw the breaking news. I felt an overwhelming rush of peace and comfort as I sat there and listened to the newscaster relay the details of his death. They spoke with such reverence. I have taken the chance to reflect on his life and the inspiration he has been to me in my life.
I will never forget one of the experiences I had when I was in the MTC. We were told that there was going to be a special broadcast in the Tabernacle, where President Hinckley would give a talk about missionary work. There was to be a special missionary choir that would sing special hymns and sit in the choir seats in the Tabernacle. I was already in the choir and we started practicing for the special occasion. We took a couple of buses from Provo to Salt Lake and got to go "backstage" where the choirs wait before they take their seats. We were seated and I was lucky enough to be in the second row from the front.
I will never in my life forget the feeling in that sacred building when the 12 Apostles filed in and took their seats. I was 10 feet away from all of them and they turned to us and gave a thumbs up, a smile or a wave.
Then complete silence. Everyone in the building immediately rose to their feet and an indescribable spirit overtook the room.
I could literally feel President Hinckley's presence before I could see him. Then I saw him and was completely overwhelmed with the love I knew he had for me and everyone in that room, as well as in the world. He inspired me that night with his words of truth, as he had many times before and so many times since.
I know he was called of God and has now been called home. What wonderous reunion is happening right now. I feel so blessed to have been on earth at this time to hear his words and see his wonderful deeds. What an example of dedication and an inspiration to me of the type of person I should try to be.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

I am reading a really inspirational book right now. It is called Three Cups of Tea and tells the story of Greg Mortenson who failed in his attempt to summit K2 and discovered how he could change the world. He has spent the last 10+ years building schools in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the surrounding areas, striving to give the poor children in those countries a chance for an balanced education. It is just so amazing to me that one person, who is determined to make the world a better place, really can succeed in doing so. I am inspired by his dedication and determination. My favorite thing about this book is how it points out that education is our best tool at changing the mindset of people and truly empowering nations. That sounded like it came right off of Reading Rainbow. It was one of my favorite shows as a kid. Anyway, you don't have to take my word for it!

Dryer Anyone?

I know that everyone's child has climbed in the dryer, but I still find it so interesting that children are so mesmerized by the simpliest things. Savannah was so proud of herself when she climbed in there and Ryanne wanted to be a part of it too!
I don't know if it is just the cold weather that we are not used to or if this is just the town of germs, but our family cannot seem to stay healthy. I was sick for a total of a four weeks, partly over Christmas, and somehow the kids never got sick. Ironically, the day after I finally started feeling better Jonah came down with flu like symptons and was down for a week. Ryanne lost her voice and had a cough, but at the beginning of this week they seemed to be on the mend. Not so. Ry woke up Wednesday and I knew as soon as I looked at her that she had conjunctivitus. Four days later she is no better and still running a fever. The eyedrops are not helping at all, so I think I am going to have to take her back to the doctor on Monday. She also has a stomach of steel, so I was surprised when she threw up in the middle of the night the other day. I was just lucky that Matt was still downstairs and I had already gone to bed, so he got to clean up. The next day at the hospital, a patient of his added to the wonderful cleanup of bodily fluids that he had to do, but I won't go into too much detail on that story. It was kinda funny, though.
I just hope that soon Ry will be back to her cheerful little self because it is so sad to see her just crying and laying around all day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Kids and Cake

Savannah modeling the cute towel she got for Christmas from Grandpa and Grandma Murray!

Jonah and Ryanne enjoying their "Banana Candy". My mom sliced a banana one day and put sprinkles on it and Banana Candy was born. A semi-healthy snack?

I really enjoy baking and decorating cakes. I wanted to learn how to make stars, borders and all types of stuff so I signed up for a basic 2-week class and this clown cake was our finished product.I left in on the counter, covered of course, and the next morning before I got home from the gym.....

Jonah and Ryanne discovered the cake and decided to taste it! I can't really blame them, oh well!


His self-portrait with my phone's camera

On Sunday morning after breakfast and baths, Jonah asked if he could go and watch Mr. Krueger's Christmas. We had a while until church since it starts at 11 am, so I said that he could. He just absolutely loves it and totally feels the spirit of the film. It is so great to have children that constantly remind you how to be a better person and of what is really important. I feel so blessed to have Jonah as my son, he truly is such a sensitive, loving child.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Girls Day Out

Cute girl, not related to me, in a pretty, modest dress
Back in September, my mom, my sister and I got together for dinner and then we went to the General Relief Society meeting. Afterwords, we were talking about how much fun it was with just us- no boys, no kids, no husbands. Girls Day Out was born. In october we went shopping and december we watched a movie but when the new year started we decided to step it up a level. We got our calendars and mapped out our Girls Day Out dates for the whole year and put one of us in charge of picking out an activity.
Saturday Jan. 19th was our first official Girls Day Out of 2008!
Lucky me, I was in charge of our day. I was brainstorming, trying to think of something that would be fun and girly. I was looking on the internet and saw that a Modest by Design fashion show was taking place at Thanksgiving Point. I thought that it sounded fun and girly, so I decided to get us tickets. We went to the show and they announced that they were giving away door prizes and in order to win you needed to read the program. The first prize was a years supply of milk and a family of 8 won that. Then they announced the next prize was a free makeover from Calla Salon.

As you can see I am in need of a makeover and I know it!
So, when they were asking for people out of the audience to come on stage and answer questions, I jumped up and started screaming and waving my arms! Everyone knows how loud I am, so it is really no surprise that I was chosen to go for the gold! There were 5 of us on stage. I am also quite competitive and I really wanted to win! I answered a question right and they narrowed it down to 2 of us. My mom and Lar were yelling for me and because I had so much spirit, the people around them were cheering too! What was the outcome? I won, of course! My mom and Lar were laughing so hard because I was so loud and excited to win. Pretty cool, I think.

The fashion show was fun. It was themed "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and all the music was from the 80's. The hair and makeup was from that time period too. It was a great start to our day.
To keep the theme going, I decided we should go and watch 27 Dresses. It opened this weekend and we were right in time for a matinee. It was really cute and definitely a perfect Girls Day Out chick flick.
Right around the time we got out of the movie theater, Lar was supposed to meet her boyfriend for dinner. Me and mom were hungry too, so we just invited ourselves to their dinner date. We made our way from American Fork and met him in Salt Lake. We couldn't decide what to eat and we didn't want to wait. Laura Dawn was naming everything imaginable and then she drove by Chick-fil-A . I will pause here for everyone to be amazed because there is actually a Chick-fil-A in Utah that is not in a Mall Food Court. It is true. I saw it with my own eyes, it even has a playplace. I wanted to eat there really bad (our family is suffering from Chick-fil-A withdrawal) but I thought about it and felt guilty because whenever we ask the kids where they want to eat, they yell 'CHICK-FIL-A!' I realized I would have to take Matt and the kids to that location later. We ended up going to IHOP
We couldn't end the night there because I looked across the parking lot and saw a Barnes and Noble and I love looking at books, especially when I have time to look at books I am interested in (i.e. no kids are with me!)
Lar left with her boyfriend and my mom and I made our way back home a little after 10 pm.
I have to say it was a pretty great day! The only thing missing was Audrey- we missed you Aud!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fun Geography Game

My college major was once geography and so maybe that is why I really like this game. My mom, dad, brother, and I took turns playing it to see who could get to the highest level. Even if you don't like geography it is fun to see how much you know about the United States or different parts of the world!

Recipe Overload?

Maybe my sister is going to regret asking me to post my favorite recipes because it is going to take over my blog. I think I could probably have a blog just devoted completely to recipes and cooking. But after going to a little meeting last night, (a group of women in my ward are going to start a cooking class once a month), I am surprised at how many people just rotate through the same recipes over and over. I know that not everyone loves cooking but there really is so much out there to try and so much of it is so good! So, I guess the purpose of this post is just to say I hope that someone actually tries one of the recipes I have posted and enjoys something different for dinner one night. And I hope that you will continue to look at my blog because I promise my kids still exist and I do have a life besides cooking. That being said, here are some other notes about the new recipes I linked up.
The egg salad is one of Jonah's absolute favorites. He requests it all the time but I always add chopped celery, dill pickle relish and use fat-free mayo. And I don't bother spreading mayo on the bread. That's one condiment I am not in love with. The kids have a blast making faces and Matt even said it was the best egg salad he had ever tasted.
The greek nachos bowls I actually turned into a pita sandwich and I added 1 chopped zucchini and 1 chopped green pepper to the meat mixture because you can never have too many veggies right?
The Hearty Beef and Potato Casserole is what I take to people when I make them dinner. It is easy, delicious, and so good. I have made it a bunch of times. A good one for meat and potato lovers like my dad.
The Rockin Morrocan Pita I added a yellow pepper and a little more seasoning and the next day we ate it on top of romaine salad, which I actually liked better.
Apple Pancakes- this is also a Matt and Jonah favorite. They are both kinda picky, so anything the both like becomes something I make again. On this recipe they forgot to include 2 more Tbls. of butter in the recipe list so you really need 4 Tbls. , 2 for the apple mixture and 2 for the pancake batter.
I promise that my next post won't include a recipe!!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup

I made this for dinner tonight, and it is delicious. The kids gobbled it up! Give it a try and make sure you use red lentils-YUM!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Recipe Notes

I made the pumpkin pecan bread again today and added a cup of semi-sweet mini chocolate chips and made half of the batter into cute cupcakes for FamilyHome Evening treat. I only baked them for about 18-20 minutes. Also, on the grilled meatball salad, I omitted the bacon and just used ground pork. I added a little skim milk to the meatball mixture and baked them at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. I also drizzled them with a little bit of olive oil. This is so good! Everyone loved it!

Gym Dawgs

So, The Gym Dawgs were taking on the University of Utah for the opening meet of the season.
My brother, Jacob, goes to the U, so we got tickets for the kids, and my sis and her date and we took on the Huntsmans Center. It was a sad scene, as we were the only dawg fans in sight. Then I looked over and saw a bunch of G's in the middle of the section next to us. I got excited and hoped they weren't Granstville fans (see earlier blog for that joke!) They turned out to be family members of one the gymnasts from Las Vegas, so they weren't too hard core.
It was pretty exciting, especially when an elderly man (at least 80) yelled over to us "Sit down and SHUT UP!" Things were looking good for us through the whole meet and after the first three rounds we were ahead by a few tenths of a point. But then 2 gym dawgs fell off the beam and it looked like it was going to be a close win. When the final scores were posted, we ended up losing by .10 of a point! It was sad and we had to quietly make our way back to the car. It was fun because we even had my brother cheering for Georgia and Savannah was singing ba baba ba ba (the tune of GO Georgia Bulldogs) . Ryanne had been singing it all week and then Savannah surprised me by singing the tune with her babas. I mean she really knows the tune. It is so funny. Kinda sad (no offense Matt), when I thought about the fact that the first song she has actually learned is a Bulldog song, but I guess it comes as no surprise, right?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Recent Recipes

My sister Audrey wanted me to make a list of my favorite/recently tried recipes. So I am going to try and link up the recipe if it is available on the internet. I think I am going to just add it to my overall page and just update it as needed. I have included the link to the most popular of all the cookies I made for Christmas- Macadamia Lime Snowflakes. I had to increase the baking time by 10-15 minutes and don't bother cutting in into snowflakes, just cut into bars and eat.
One of the recipes I made tonight was Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup. I altered the recipe a little bit. I added a can of chicken broth instead of the tomato juice, added dried oregano and parsley and pureed all the veggies instead of half. When I make it again I am going to cook the onions and garlic until soft at higher heat because they were a little bit crunchy. It really tasted great with French-toasted Tuna and Hummus sandwiches.
I had some leftover cranberries from the holidays so I made the cranberry muffins the other morning. Savannah and Ryanne couldn't stop eating them.
I also wanted to apologize about the music I had on here. I accidentally downloaded a song or two with not so great lyrics. So sorry, if you pulled up the page and heard it!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

2008 Sugar Bowl

Matt called me the other day and said "I haven't seen you since last year". I had to laugh because it was true. Last Saturday I took my loving husband to the airport and he flew to Atlanta. One of his patients works for US Airways and she let him use a buddy pass so he could fly down there. Once in Georgia he met up with a friend who got tickets to the Sugar Bowl (because he works for UGA's athletic department) , his brother and they rented a car. They started their drive to New Orleans and picked up a couple of friends on the way. Once in New Orleans, they got situated in their hotel and hung out for a day until the big game. I was nervous to watch because I really wanted Georgia to win and wanted Matt to have a wonderful birthday/christmas present. I guess everyone already knows the outcome. Georgia stomped Hawaii and Matt was as happy as he could be! They stayed one more night and then drove back to Georgia. He made his way back to Salt Lake on Thursday and we were ready to have dad back. I wish I could've gone toO (at least to Georgia) but I am really glad that Matt got a little vacation and that the Georgia Bulldogs proved how good they are! GO DAWGS!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Favorite Books and Movies of 2007

I wanted to write a little bit about some of my favorite entertainment from the past year. Matt and I rent alot of movies (too many if you ask my dad :), but it is one way that we spend time together and connect at home.

Miss Potter- This is an autobiography of Beatrix Potter. I thought this was a really good, clean movie that was just enjoyable and sweet. Plus it is rated PG which is always a plus for me.

Waitress- I know I am going to get mixed reactions for having this on my list, but I absolutely loved this film. It was funny, sad, happy and just filled with real life moments. It really hit home for me because it went through so many emotions and relationships. It also made us tear up. Very good acting and writing in my opinion. I watched it again later with my mom and sisters and my younger sister had a problem with some of the situations, but I loved it!

Bourne Ultimatum- I really don't need to explain this one, do I?

Amazing Grace- This is a great period piece about William Wilburforce, who fought to end to the slave trade in Britain. Once again, PG and just inspirational how one person's determination can change the world.

The Beauty Academy of Kabul- I have a real interest in the Middle East right now, particularly Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is a documentary about American and English beauticians that set up a beauty school in Afghanistan. It opened my eyes to the women in Kabul and I was touched by their love of life and happiness after all the war and struggles they have faced.


A Mighty Heart by Mariane Pearl- This was a life-changing book for me. I cannot explain how much this book spoke to me and changed my view on so many things. I cried for a whole day after I finished it and have read it twice since. I admire Daniel Pearl so much and his wife, Mariane for continuing to live a happy and full life and for being such an inspiration. I made a copy of her dedication in the front of this book and absolutely love how her tragic story brought the good out of so many different people all over the world.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini- I absolutely loved the Kite Runner (debut novel by this author) and couldn't wait for my local library to get a copy of this book (it took awhile). I absolutely loved this book! It is so good! What a look into Afghanistan and the women that live there. I couldn't put this one down.

Dreams From my Father by Barack Obama- I found this to be well written and insightful.

Night by Elie Wiesel- Unbelievable that the Holocaust really happened. This really astounded me.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls- very interesting memoir and slightly disturbing that a family really lived this way. Somewhat dumbfounding.

Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals- The story of the fight to integrate a Little Rock High School in 1957. I would like to say that we have come so far, but this book made me wonder if we really have.

All of these books have really made me aware of how blessed I am and how many wonderful things in my life I have to be grateful for. The freedom I enjoy in this country and my wonderful family are two things I hope to never take for granted. It is good to be reminded of how GOOD life really is.

Savannah, Savannah

My friend Heather was visiting over the hoildays and we had to take a picture to prove that Savannah was actually letting Heather hold her. This is such a huge breakthrough. Heather was here over the summer and back then Savannah would only let me or my mom hold her. I just think it is amazing that in a few short months she has gotten enough courage to let others hold her. My sister has been staying at my house for almost two weeks and now Savannah will approach her and sit with her. My baby is growing up. How exciting!

One of the books I remember reading as a child had to do with cats. It talks about cats all over the world and how they do amazing things, but "my cat likes to hide in boxes". I am beginning to wonder if Savannah is a cat. She will sit in any box or container and prefers it to almost any other activity. She will unload whatever was in the box and make herself comfortable. It is quite entertaining to say the least!