Thursday, July 28, 2011

Photo Shoot

My cousin, Cassie, gave Steve and I a wonderful wedding present - she offered to do a wedding photo shoot for us. Before I lost weight, I wouldn't have loved the idea...well, I would have been a ham during the shoot but would have dreaded seeing the actual pictures. Having lost 180 lbs, I'm definitely a lot more comfortable in my own skin, so was really excited about the photo shoot. It was also nice to have Cassie taking the pictures, I trust her and feel very comfortable with her. I knew she wouldn't be thinking all the time "she looks weird" or "yikes!".

Cassie had the great plan to shoot the pictures at the train depot in Ogden, and it really turned out great. She ended up taking about 400 pictures and narrowed it down to 90 final photos, including the same shot in different colors/photoshopping. We expected her to give us a disc with those 90 pictures but she surprised us with a beautifully framed photo and several prints of different shots PLUS the disc of all 90. I love the pictures and am soooo grateful to have them as a reminder of our special day - even though the pictures were taken over a month after we eloped, we're wearing our wedding clothes.

Below are some of my favorite shots:

This is one of my favorite shots - it totally
shows Steve and I in our element.
He is in charge and I'm goofy.

Align CenterThis is another of my most favorite shots and
is also the one Cassie framed.

Thanks again, Cassie! We'll treasure these pictures for the rest of our lives.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

What We've Been Eating - Southwestern Salad

One of the things that I've enjoyed most about not working full-time has been the time I'm able to put into our home life. I clean more, take care of our little garden, and I experiment with our food. Instead of relying on old stand-by recipes, I now have the time to explore a little, even if it's just recipes I've never made from my expansive recipe collection.

Those of you who buy Pampered Chef products know that most of their items come with a recipe or two that you can use the product to make. I threw most of them away but kept a few that sounded yummy. As I searched my recipe collection trying to find something new and summery, I came across this salad. Here's the Pampered Chef recipe, then I'll tell you what I did differently.

Southwestern Salad
3/4 c ranch salad dressing (I love Wild Coyote Ranch)
1 jalepeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (we used one from our own garden!)
2 tsp taco seasoning
1 tbsp lime juice

1/2 c pitted ripe olives, sliced
1 c diced red bell pepper
1 pkg (10 oz) torn romaine lettuce (I like it super shredded into small pieces)
1 c black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c whole kernel corn
2 c diced cooked chicken
1 ripe avocado, peeled, seeded and diced (optional)

Combine all the ingredients for the dressing and whisk until well-blended. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Combine all the salad ingredients then pour dressing over it. Toss gently to coat and top with avocado if desired. Serve immediately.

My changes:
I used the whole can of black beans, about 1/2 cup more than the recipe calls more and I put more corn in than called for and less olives (my husband doesn't love olives). I bought one of those cooked chickens from the grocery store and diced the whole thing since I need more cooked chicken for a recipe later this week. Then I measured out 2 cups. When I make this again, I'll add another cup of chicken to make the salad a little heartier.

When I had mixed everything together, I added about 1/4 c finely chopped cilantro, about 1/2 tsp salt, and a few more dashes of lime juice.

Today, when I had the salad for lunch, the flavors were really enhanced, especially the jalepeno flavor. I added shredded cheddar cheese and a little more lime juice to brighten up the leftovers. The lettuce was wilty, not my favorite, so I'm thinking I may just omit the salad next time, or use a lot less. It was still really delicious!

With the chicken pre-cooked, there was absolutely no cooking involved in this recipe. Perfect for hot summer evenings when you really don't feel like having the oven or stove on.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Week with the Kids

I love being an aunt. I have three nephews and one niece and absolutely adore each of them to pieces. With my oldest nephew Porter and his sister Brooke I used to have sleepovers or "date nights" when I lived in Cedar City. I've missed hanging out with them as much as I used to. So, with Steve's seal of approval, I invited Porter and Brooke to spend a week with us. We had a ton of fun...though we may have overdone things a tad...okay, we spoiled the heck out of them! Oh well, that's what aunts and uncles without children of their own are for, right? Right? Here's a quick run-down of our week of fun with pictures!

Saturday, June 25:
We had a family reunion in Vernal this weekend, so Corey and I decided that this would be a good time to meet up and for him to hand over his kids for a week. We left Vernal after the reunion, mid-afternoon, stopping in Heber City for hamburgers, fries, and shakes. Mmmm. We got home around 8pm, so after taking Sadie for a long walk along the river path, we played a game then went to bed.

Sunday, June 26:
We went to Cars 2 in 3D (not worth the money to see it in 3D, trust me). I liked the movie more than I thought I would. We had planned to take the kids to Fat Cats, an arcade, after the movie, but it was closed on Sundays (good for them!), so we went out to eat at Iggy's for lunch. After running home to let Sadie out of her kennel for a bit, we went to the Ogden Raptor's baseball game. It was my first time going to a Raptor's game and I really enjoyed it. They won, which is always fun, but it was a good game - several home runs, close score, friendly and loud fans, and ice cream.
Steve and the kids in front of the stadium

Brooke and Porter

Me and Steve

After the game, we ate Chinese take out and watched Kindergarten Cop. We were all pretty tired and went to bed happily.

Monday, June 27:
My brother Jason, his wife Rachel, and their son came up around 10am for our fun filled day. We started by going to the AF Museum close to the base. Porter said it "blew his mind". It was really cool to see the planes up close and was extra nice to have Steve there to offer additional information about the planes and bombs and such.

Brooke, Robbie, and Porter

Brooke, Steve, me, and Porter

Jason, Robbie, Rachel, Porter, Steve, Brooke
They're trying to look tough - some pulled it off better than others. :)

After the museum, we headed to Riverdale park for a picnic that Brooke and I had put together earlier that day (sandwiches, chips, carrots, and grapes). I forgot to get pictures of us eating and of us playing donkeyball. Oh well. I'm just glad I got these three.

Sadie is thrilled to be at the park with us instead of in her kennel.

Robbie loves playing with Sadie

Getting ready to leave the park

We took Sadie back home then headed to the big event for the day - Boondocks. It is a mini amusement park; bumper boats, go carts (for adults and for kids), laser tag, arcade, mini golf, bowling, batting cages, and food. My favorite by far was the bumper boats! I figured to get a little wet, but we all got absolutely soaked! Of course I chose to wear a dress and to do my hair down. Both not the best decisions, but oh well. Luckily, Steve loves me even when I'm a mess.

Jason, Robbie, Steve, and Porter - in line at the go carts

Brooke and me after getting soaked on the bumper boats.
Look at those freckles!

Rachel, Robbie, and Jason in line for go carts

Porter driving on the kids go cart track.
He started off in 5th and ended up in 1st! Great driving!

Brooke driving on the kids go cart track

We went on the bumper boats twice, go carts three times, laser tag a couple times, and played arcade games until our allotted $5 each was used up. We ate dinner there and had surprisingly good pizza and hamburgers/nuggets for the kids. We left after a few hours, all of us tired but happy.

Jason and Rachel ran a couple quick errands then came up to our house with a surprise - ice cream! We lit sparklers and played Sorry. It was a great day!

Tuesday, June 28:
Steve had to go back to work this day, unfortunately. Jason and Rachel invited us to their house for a church activity and swimming at their pool. The church activity was outside of the church on the lawn. They had finger paints, water colors, play dough, and other activities for the kids. The hit of the event was Sadie. We brought her along so she wouldn't have to be in her kennel all day. By the end of the activity, she and I were surrounded by kids petting her and asking questions. I'm so glad she is so good with kids! Heck, she loves anyone who will pet her. It was a really warm day, so jumping into Jason's pool after a nice lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches was so refreshing! Sorry, no picture of me in my cute new red, white, and blue swimsuit. Darn it!

Porter, Rachel, Brooke, Jason, and Robbie

We swam for a couple hours then headed back home. We got there just after Steve got home from work. The three of us took quick showers then went to a Japanese hibachi/sushi restaurant. The food was really good, the cook was entertaining, and I finally got to eat a little sushi after over 2 years! We went home and watched a weird cartoon Garfield movie that I hope to never think about again after writing this. Again, we all went to be happy and exhausted.

Wednesday, June 29:
Honestly, by this day I was plum tuckered out, so the kids and I took the morning off. We walked Sadie but mostly just relaxed. We played some games, mostly Wii, and watched tv. Steve came home for lunch, and then we headed out. I took them to the Ogden Union Depot to see the old trains and the train station. I love that you get to climb on the trains and even see inside a few of them. Incidentally, this is where my cousin Cassie took our wedding pictures (coming soon).

Porter and Brooke on top of a train

Me on top of a train

One of my favorite pictures - it was his idea

Inside one of the trains

Porter and Brooke inside the train station

After leaving the train depot, we went to a nearby pottery painting store, Color Me Mine, where the kids and I chose and painted pieces of pottery. I've wanted to do it for months and enjoyed it as much as the kids. These pictures show the unfinished pieces. They are being glazed then fired in the kiln. I'll get to pick them up this week, just in time to take them to Cedar this weekend when I go for Shakespeare. The colors will be more vibrant and deep.

Porter with his monkey head and 4 wheeler

Brooke and her dog

My flower plate

We went home and walked Sadie before Steve got home. We made tacos for dinner, and then we went to Fat Cats. The kids had been looking forward to this all week...well, since last November. Steve and I surprised them with hundreds of tickets that we've been saving for when they came. We also played some games and won a few more hundred tickets. In all, he and I contributed 1400 tickets! The kids were able to get some really good toys and were in 7th heaven. Afterward, we went to our favorite ice cream parlor, Birch Creek Mercantile, for ice cream.

Thursday, June 30:
I took the kids to the dinosaur park in Ogden for our morning activity. It was really enjoyable, but I'd like to go back with Steve so I can have time to read the descriptions of all the dinosaurs!

Looking for dinosaur bones

A wooly rhino! Who knew?

Panning for gold. They were thrilled they got to take home their finds.

After lunch, we went to Riverdale park for the kids to play in the splash park. It was overcrowded, so they didn't play there long. They tried the playground, but it was crowded too, so we went home after only an hour. We came home and chilled until Steve came home. For dinner, we made personal pizzas. Everyone got to put on their own toppings. They all ended up tasting delicious!

After dinner, we had game night. We had a water balloon fight (boys v. girls), had a water gun fight (started out adults v. kids but ended up as a free for all), blew bubbles with our extra large wands, colored pictures on the driveway with sidewalk chalk, played Sorry and Uno, then lit sparklers when it was dark enough. It was a great evening!

Friday, July 1:
All week long, we'd had cold cereal for breakfast. The kids and I decided to have a hot breakfast this morning since Steve didn't have to work. We had pancakes and English muffins topped with an egg salad of sorts with bacon. We packed up and headed to Cedar. It was the end of our week together.

I was kind of surprised to find that I was neither relieved or sad when the end of the week came. It was a good, fun, long week that left me exhausted and filled with wonderful memories. I'm really grateful that Steve is so supportive of me wanting to spend time with my family and he is soooo good with the kids. They love him and feel comfortable with him like he's been in the family for years. I'm already looking forward to next year!