Sunday, November 27, 2011

They say bad things happen in 3s...

I hope it's true that bad things happen in 3s and I'm not just starting to have an unlucky, terrible life! Ha ha, it's not that bad, but sometimes it feels like it. It started last Friday, the week before Thanksgiving, with my arms aching. I thought that was weird, but I continued on with my life. Until I couldn't continue on any more because my whole body was aching. Then the fevers started. Then they would break, and I (and my pajamas and bedsheets) would be bathed in sweat. TMI, I know, but I had to live it for four days! One night I went through five sets of pajamas and ended up sleeping between beach towels because I ran out of blankets. So lovely. Finally, Tuesday evening I dragged myself and my four little neglected kiddies to the Instacare and was diagnosed with pneumonia!! I did have a deep cough, but the cough was the least of my worries. I just kept waiting for the fevers and aches to go away, but they never did. Fortunately, the doctor gave me some strong antibiotics and I had a day to try to recover for Thanksgiving. By Thursday, I was feeling much better. We enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving with Jason's family, then hopped in the truck and drove to Burley that night so Jason could, what else, hunt early Friday morning. Truthfully, I wasn't really feeling up to traveling, but I made it and it was nice to be home with my family and just relax. While I was there, Bad Thing #2 happened. My cell phone was accidentally dropped in a body of water. Also known as the toilet. Argggg. It has been out of commission ever since. So it will be fun to brave the Verizon store during the holiday season to try to get that whole mess figured out. Then, as we were packing up to leave Saturday afternoon, Bad Thing #3 happened. I was holding Jake, trying to balance a few bags on my arm and lean over to pick up a few more, and I somehow tweaked my back. BAD. As in, I still can't even walk. If I lie still in one position, it's okay, but if I have to move, well, I just can't. Getting Jake in and out of his crib is quite the ordeal. So that's my little gratitude post for Thanksgiving. I'm grateful that I'm not dead and I know things could be worse. I'm grateful that I don't have much going on this week and I can try to recover and maybe even get into the Christmas spirit. Or not. We'll see...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fall Update

 My mom always used to say that fall was her favorite season. I thought that was really weird. What could be better than summer? Or spring or winter? Then I realized she said that every year right around the time school was starting... hmmm, suspicious. Did she actually ENJOY us leaving her home with nothing to do? I couldn't imagine that! Until I had kids. Now fall is also MY favorite season, but there are several additional reasons. Mostly food-related. I also love the cooler temperatures, the colors, the change of pace, and of course hunting. Well, not really on the last one, but I'm trying to be supportive here, people. My life is what it is. Soooo, on to the update. The kids and I had a great trip to Burley while Jason was on a hunt somewhere (I can't keep track anymore). I went hunting. And then there was Halloween.

This is at a cute little place called The Pumpkin Patch. It is north of Paul, which is north of Burley. Who knew?
The kids with my cute, wonderful, fun, adorable mom.
Heading out to pick pumpkins. I love how Jake is always just trying to keep up!
Abby got to pick out a gourd. She named him Gordy.
Jakey in the pumpkin patch.
On the hunt for the perfect pumpkin.
One of the highlights of going to Burley: golf cart rides with Grandma.
I love this picture: my dad teaching Dallin how to play "Porcupines have Prickly Quills".  So precious!
And now on to hunting. We hiked up to the top of West Canyon and the sunrise was amazing, as always.
Oh, he's so proud of his little wifey! Mission accomplished.
Love the sunrise over Timp!
Jason and his brother Chad on the look out for deer. We actually saw some and took a few shots, but no deer were fated to die that day, which was all right with me.
We actually did a theme this year for Halloween! Kind of amazing. Luke was a  football player (Steelers).
Dallin was also a football player, but a Chicago Bear.
Abby was the referee, and Jake was the runaway football.
He was kind of a homeless little football, but what do you do.
We had a fun night of trick or treating in Grandma Yates' neighborhood. This is the best picture I could get of all four kids, which is kind of sad, but not really, because it is our life. Jake is out of focus, but I love the big grin on his face. Dallin has figured out that if he looks at the camera it will be over much sooner. Luke can only focus on his sucker. And Abby is off in space. Why do I love my kids so much? They just crack me up.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Cooking Class With the Food Nanny/Best Day Ever!!

 So you may or may not know that I am a HUGE fan of the Food Nanny on BYU-TV. I first read about her on a blog last spring and then I saw the book in Costco (where else?) and had to pick it up. I was instantly hooked. She is a huge advocate of family mealtime, which is something that I had been struggling with for a while. My husband works most evenings and is only home for dinner once or twice a week. This leaves me with four small kids and a great excuse to scrounge up some lame food most nights and not make anything special. I had a nagging feeling that I should be doing more, because I do love to cook, but was I being wasteful by making nice food for little kids who didn't appreciate it? And should I be eating well/gaining weight if I didn't have to? Cereal seemed to be the answer most of the time. I'd cook up something that sounded good once in a while and overindulge, then feel guilty and swear to eat cereal for a few days. My kids seemed to be happy with whatever I put in front of them, so I didn't have the motivation to make any changes. Then I found the Food Nanny, Liz Edmunds. She has raised seven children and attributes her success as a mother to consistent family meal times. What I can most relate to about her is that her husband was gone most of the time (he was a pilot), and she still brought her family together every single night for a home-cooked meal at the dinner table. She says she just needed something for her and her family to look forward to every single day. It was like a light bulb went off in my head after learning that. (What, her husband was gone all the time, too, and she STILL did all this? Well, why can't I?) I also love her philosophy about eating real and not dieting. She says you should eat what your body craves, but only until you are satisfied. Then you just push your plate back. And she obviously practices what she preaches because she is tiny! (So you mean I can make good food for my family AND eat it? And not spend my life counting calories? Sign me up!) Her cookbook is nothing short of amazing. Her recipes are simple but gourmet at the same time. Everything I have tried has been great. Everything. I absolutely love her philosophy about Family Dinner. "It's the most important time of the day!" she says repeatedly on her show. You can watch every episode on and I highly, highly recommend it. I have tried so many new recipes and methods of cooking that I never thought I would even attempt. Most importantly, my family has come to expect Family Dinner every night (or most nights!) whether Dad is home or not. It's not always fantastically planned out with the table set and wonderful food, but the kids don't seem to care. I just do my best that day, whatever it is. My kids love sitting at the dinner table together and discussing their days. We each tell the best part and worst part of our day and it leads to some pretty interesting conversations! Abby can't seem to distinguish the present day from the past, so we all have some great laughs over what she thinks happened that day, which probably happened several weeks ago, if at all. The other night Jason was with us and he was telling me all about what happened at work that day when I noticed Dallin was pouting. I asked him what was wrong and he said, "Why don't we just call this Mom and Dad Dinner instead of Family Dinner, since you two are the only ones talking?" I had to laugh. I asked him what he wanted to talk about and he was just busting to tell everyone about how his CapriSun had sprung a leak in his lunchbox that day and ruined his lunch. I love that he was saving something that was important to him to share with the family at dinner.  
You can imagine my excitement a few weeks ago when I saw on the Food Nanny's Facebook page that she was going to be hosting a cooking class AT HER HOME for a very reasonable price, and it would include one of her cookbooks (Happy Birthday, Mom!)!! I immediately signed up and trusted that it would work out, and it did. I told Jason that it was my present for him going to Texas to hunt whitetails this week, which he had to agree with. It was SUCH a fun day. The thing I love most about Liz (I can call her Liz now, we are kind of tight like that) is her energy. She is a TINY little thing, but she is so excited about life and so full of passion about what she teaches. I always thought she was adorable, but wondered if maybe she was just a rich lady that loved to cook and had a lot of breaks in life. Not so. She is a humble, kind and hard-working lady who has made the best out of everything she has had to deal with in life. Her house is amazing, but it is not fancy. Just simple and beautiful and functional. Mostly, it is welcoming and comfortable. Very down to earth. I loved it. There were about fifteen people in the class and she made all of us feel so at home. I wanted to just stay afterward and hang out and help her do the dishes, but I had a babysitter at home and an hour drive ahead of me so I was sad to have to leave. The class was GREAT. She made so much food and ALL of it was fantastic. Apple Pie, Apple Crisp, French Baquettes, Bruschetta, Arugula Pizza, Chicken Marsala With Mushrooms, Spaghetti Carbonara... am I missing anything? She impressed me so much with her passion about cooking for her family. It's not like she just had her kids grow up and leave the house and got bored so she decided to write a book. She really lives it. She has lived this philosophy for 40 years and made a rich, wonderful life in the process. That is what I want! I want my kids to know what HOME feels like, and I think family meals around the dinner table on a consistent basis are the foundation for what I have been looking for. Even if it's just the kids and me most of the time. When Jason is home it is just all the more special.

Baquettes fresh out of the oven! So easy, and how cute is that little pan?
Liz made a special bruschetta that will be featured in her next cookbook (can't wait!!). It was amazing. I am still thinking about it.

Here she is adding the chicken to the Chicken Marsala. Wow, so good!
Here are just a few of my favorite recipes from the book, for your FYI (ha ha, I love it when people say "For your FYI" because it doesn't even make any sense!):
p. 34 Roast Chicken with Gravy - I make this for my VERY special friends when they have babies. It is probably my favorite meal to make in the world. I used to have a fear of raw chicken, and what the heck do you do with a whole chicken anyway, but Liz helps a lady who HATES raw meat make this on one of the shows (It's called "Chicken Chicken") and suggests using plastic gloves when handling raw meat! I picked up a box of surgical gloves and my life hasn't been the same since. I feel so liberated!
p. 78 Chicken Marsala With Mushrooms - I was so excited when she made this at the cooking class! It is the first thing I have ever made with cooking wine and it is SO fun and delicious. I love making it.
p. 182 Slow-Cooked Chicken Noodle Soup - Easiest and best chicken soup I have ever made! Sometimes I use potatoes instead of noodles. I also use boneless, skinless chicken thighs and it is fantastic.
p. 149 Grilled Salmon - I had never made salmon on the grill before, and this is now one of my go-to meals because it is so simple and my kids love it! Plus, I'm so excited to be feeding them fish! I feel like Mom of the Year.
p. 234 Liz's Crescent Dinner Rolls - Hands down, my favorite recipe. These are better than Lion House Rolls, in my opinion, and so easy! I make them way too much. I'm making them today, in fact. The best part of this recipe is that it makes one big pan of rolls that only needs 12 minutes in the oven, instead of three pans for 20 minutes each. Who has that kind of time? I can whip up the dough in ten minutes in the afternoon and pop them in the oven a few minutes before dinner, and wow. According to Luke, it's heaven.
There are so many more recipes that I love, and my secret goal is to try every recipe in the book. Probably won't really happen, but at least we will be eating good in the mean time! 

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