Thursday, June 30, 2011

West Festing

We love the West Fest! I'm sure a big part of the love stems from the fact that the carnival is within walking distance and therefore we need not deal with traffic or parking. This year, we took the boys over Thursday evening to check out the booths and ride the rides. The rides are $1 on Thursday, not their normal $3-$4 rip off. Palmer rode the roller coaster. He'd been talking about it all week, and picked it as his first ride. The first time around he looked terrified, but each subsequent lap he was laughing hysterically. The boys rode a few more kid friendly rides and we all rode the Ferris wheel.

Saturday the boys went to the parade with our neighbors while we were at the temple for Sariah's endowment session. They had a good time and got a decent load of candy. Saturday evening we went to see fireworks. We walked over with our neighbors and were also joined by London, her kids, Dad, Betty and the Dunns. The boys loved the fireworks. Brody oohed and aahed the whole time. And as you can see by the pictures, Palmer was likewise very enthusiastic.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sariah's Temple Day

My younger sister Sariah went through the temple (Jordan River) for her first time last Saturday. Everything about the day was beautiful! The temple was beautiful, the session was beautiful, and she looked beautiful. My older sister London was her escort (I was London's escort a couple years ago), and Dad, Betty, and Greg and I were in attendance. She also had a lot of good friends who came to support her. Sariah has been going through a lot of really difficult trials lately; she definitely has a need for the blessings of the temple at this time. I am so very proud of her and her choice to progress in our Heavenly Father's plan. How wonderful that all three of us sisters have now gone through the temple and have made sacred covenants with the Lord! I am so grateful to have a forever family.

Monday, June 27, 2011

500 Posts and Giveaway

This is my 500th post! Which I think is pretty cool. I have never before been able to keep a regular journal, and now thanks to blogging, I have 500 entries over a span of about three years. I would call that a success!

Looking back over the blog, specifically the labels, I realize a few things. Things that aren't a big surprise to me, but things certainly of note nonetheless. I have 24 categories that I have blogged about more than once. Some of these categories don't have many entries, such as politics and nature (which makes sense since I'm not a very political person, or an outdoorsy person) and some of the categories pretty much make up our blog, such as: family, friends, and especially our children Palmer and Brody. I am happy to see that although I am not as good at taking pictures of our second child (a phenomenon all parents can probably attest to) that I do seem to document Brody's milestones just as frequently as I have documented Palmer's. These two little boys are by far, my favorite subjects to blog about. I just adore them! From gazing on these labels I can that we are loved by family and friends. I can see that cooking is a big part of our lives, specifically good cooking. I can see a love for crafts. From the amount of birthday and holidays recorded, I see that we like to celebrate and have fun. I see that a good chunk of our entries are of a spiritual nature, and that is rightly so, because our lives revolve around our religion. All these labels represent good things, things for which I am grateful. Certainly our lives are full and we are truly blessed!

I'd like to thank you readers who've traveled along this journey with us. I've appreciated the kind words, the encouragement and the good advice. You and your comments are one of the biggest reasons I've been able to keep this blog going. So as a thank you, I am offering a giveaway, a homemade treat of your choosing. All you need to do to enter is become a follower of our blog (if you are not already) and leave a comment on this post with your e-mail address and which treat you would like to receive. There are many listed on this blog to choose from, but I am willing to make others not featured, so feel free to request whatever you desire. Keep in mind that if you do not live nearby, you will need to choose a treat that is easily shipped (i.e. cookies, fancy Chex Mix, a dense dessert bar such as brownies or peanut butter cup squares,etc.). I will select a winner at random and will announce the winner here on the blog, as well as contact by e-mail, this coming Friday, July 2.

Thanks again for reading!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Recipe - Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

This recipe comes from my sister London. She is the queen of cakes, especially cupcakes. She stands by the motto that the actual cake doesn't need to be made from scratch to be good, but the frosting definitely does. And our family is a big, big fan of buttercream frosting. For our last Relief Society meeting I topped white cupcakes with this delicious strawberry buttercream frosting. The boys and I even ate the frosting plain, by piping it straight onto our fingers from the icing bag, after I finished frosting the cupcakes; it is that good.

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

1 cup butter, softened
1 (32 oz.) package powdered sugar
1 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy (about 20 seconds). Add sugar and strawberries; beat at low speed until creamy. Add more sugar if frosting is too thin, or add more strawberries if too thick.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Road Trip to Ely

I try to do anything possible to avoid traveling long distances with our children. They are not good travelers. But, we wanted to go see Greg's Dad Kelly, and it had been several months since we had attempted the road trip, so we decided to take on the challenge. We left Friday, June 10, in the afternoon after a long lunch in McDonald's playplace. Brody fell asleep and Palmer watched a movie. We stopped halfway at the Salt Flats. The trip there was a success, with only a little crying and wiggling to get out during the last half hour.

We had a great time hanging out with Grandpa Kelly over the weekend. We went to McDonalds again, fed ducks at the park, took the kids out fourwheeling, grilled steaks, ate yummy breakfasts cooked by Grandpa, got out the slip and slide and played poker after the kids went to bed.

The ride home wasn't as fun. We left early Sunday morning. The boys fought a lot during the first part of the drive. We stopped at the park in Wendover to get out some energy and ate at Burger King for lunch. Then we put on a movie for the boys, and hit the road again. Palmer kept saying he had to go potty, and we pulled over a couple times to find out he actually didn't need to go. And Brody threw up all over himself and the car, shortly after we got back on the road. We cleaned him up as best as we could, but the van still smelled like throw up for the duration of the trip. The four hour drive ended up lasting six very long hours.

So thanks to Grandpa Kelly for the great fun. I'm sure in another six months or so, we'll forget about the rough return trip and find ourselves once again on the road to Ely.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Love Bites and More

Brody is such a little lover. He gives out about 100 kisses a day. He kisses any picture of an animal. He kisses his momma and dada and brother on the lips and anywhere else he can get to. He usually makes a big, "mwah" sound when kissing someone or something he loves. When we took him the Farm Country at Thanksgiving Point, we couldn't stop him from kissing every animal he came across right on the mouth. Pretty gross, I know. Every once in a while he even gives soft little bites to show his love. A few times he has chomped a bit too hard and caused an unsuspecting Momma or Dada to yell out in pain. In these circumstances, Brody has responded with devastated crocodile tears. We comfort him and tell him to be soft, and give him kisses right back... the gentle, non-biting kind.

He loves anything that is soft and cuddly and whenever he meets such an item he buries himself in it, mauls it, crushes it against his body, or shoves it in his mouth. You could say his love is a tad intense. He has a couple stuffed animals that he adores; you can be sure to find them in his arms, snuggled up against his chest or head, or stuffed into his mouth whenever he is put to bed. He usually pulls them out of his bed with him as well, in the same manner.

We just treasure our loving, kissing, and even sometimes biting little guy. I hope he is always able to show his great love so freely.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Birthday Bashes

I turned 29 on the 8th of this month. Only one year away from thirty, yikes.

The weekend before I scrapbooked all night long with my high school girlfriends at our scrapbook overnighter. My best bud Jenn gave me a shirt and a wallet, and my friend Lissa gave me an iPod giftcard.

I spent the Sunday before celebrating with the Nichols side of the family. We had personal pizzas and London made, by my request, Coca Cola cake. I love the Coca Cola cake at Cracker Barrel and was hoping the recipe I found online would taste like it. It was good, but not the same, so the pursuit of the right Coca Cola cake recipe continues. I received money for clothes (London even folded her money into the shape of clothes, so cute!), some pajamas, and a sewing box.

On my actual birthday Greg gave me a Nook Color. I have been loving it! And so has the rest of the family. I mostly read on it, but have used it to check my e-mail and surf the web; Greg plays games on it (specifically Angry Birds), and the boys love the function that reads picture books to them. Greg and I went to The Cheesecake Factory. I redeemed my free babysitting from our Relief Society Service Auction, and our friend Allison babysat the boys. I got the raspberry lemon cheesecake and Greg ordered the Reeces Cheesecake. The food was delicious, as always.

The next Monday I celebrated with Greg's side of the family at Leatherbys. We all ate icecream, chatted, and the kids made big gooey messes. Nancy gave me a cosmetic box, a sweater and a jewelry set.

It really was a wonderful birthday! I just love to spread it out and celebrate it as long as possible!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Recipe - Bacon Wrapped Chicken Teriyaki Skewers

I got this recipe from my new cookbook Our Best Bites, which I have been loving. It was my Mothers Day present from the boys (and probably from Greg, since it doesn't seem his over the top gift of a spa day is going to work out). I'd been eyeing it since it's release, and am so happy to now be the owner of this fabulous cookbook. Besides using a lot of garlic (which I am allergic to), these two ladies cook just as I like to cook. They use fresh everyday ingredients, and make most food from scratch.

I prepped these chicken skewers and Greg grilled them up. They were so delicious. Greg even confessed they were just as good as his favorite meal - BBQ ribs. I think the homemade teriyaki sauce is what made them so amazing. And of course anything with pineapple gets top scores from me.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Teriyaki Skewers

Homemade Teriyaki sauce (recipe below)
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
About 8 oz. lean bacon, NOT thick-sliced
1 large can pineapple chunks
Kebab skewers

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. cold water
½ c. white sugar
½ c. soy sauce
¼ c. cider vinegar
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. black pepper

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger and black pepper. Combine your ingredients in the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. While sauce is heating, combine cornstarch and cold water. When sauce comes to a full boil, add cornstarch mixture and stir until sauce is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. May be stored in refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks

Cut slices of bacon into thirds. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. You can gauge about how many pieces you'll need by how many pieces of bacon you have; you probably won't use all the bacon. Drain the pineapple and set up a little work station with skewers, bacon, chicken, and a 9x13 baking dish. Wrap a piece of bacon around a chicken piece, secure with skewer, and top with a chunk of pineapple. Repeat twice if using large skewers. When all chicken pieces have been sufficiently staked, pour Teriyaki sauce over everything, reserving about 1/4 c., and marinate in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, no longer than about 8. Preheat grill; when about 350-400 degrees, place skewers on grill and baste with reserved Teriyaki sauce. Cook about 7 minutes and flip skewers. Baste again and cook another 7 minutes.

**If cooking in oven, preheat oven to 400 and bake about 20 minutes, turning once, following the same basting instructions.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Greg's New Calling

Greg was called to the Elder's Quorum Presidency this past Sunday to serve as the second councilor. This is his third calling; he is also the second councilor in the Sunday School Presidency and a Cub Scout Den leader. He is a good man, and his work is obviously needed in our ward.

I had a realization this past week. I myself, have always had no problem taking on positions of responsibility. In fact, I like to be in charge, to make sure everything and everyone is accounted for. I feel for the most part, leadership, is a good niche for me. I am comfortable being involved and I am an organized person. I try to seek out such opportunities, not only because it makes me happy, but also because I have received a very special priesthood blessing which told me I am to do so.

I was invited into Priesthood to witness Greg being set apart. Among many blessings given to Greg, the member of the stake high council blessed me to be a support to my husband. He blessed me with understanding for the times to come when Greg would have to sacrifice time with our family in order to fulfill his calling.

After Greg was set apart I went onto Relief Society, where a lesson on keeping the commandments was in progress. It was during this lesson that I had the impression that what the Lord is asking of me at this time in my life is to support my husband in his roles of responsibility. I rarely have an issue giving of my time, talents and efforts to the Lord and to others. However, when it comes to Greg's time, I struggle being as giving. I feel the kids and I don't see him too often as it is. The time that he does have, I want for us. I've never told him not to accept a calling or to stay home instead of serving. But, there have been instances that I have begrudged the time he spends away from our family. I am sure that, even though these negative feelings weren't voiced, Greg could sense them. The children could probably sense them. And I know that they have surely affected me. On Sunday, I realized these feelings I have had are not in accordance with Heavenly Father's commandments, and that I needed to soften my heart.

I suspect that much will be required of my husband in the future. He is a righteous, worthy man, the sort of man that is a rarity in our world today. And because much will be required of him, certain things must be required of me. Not things I had in mind. Not things I have been preparing myself for. Not things that come easily to me. But important things nonetheless. Important things the Lord expects from me and is teaching me to understand and accept.

Monday, June 6, 2011

STAYcation

Greg and I took the past week off of work for a family staycation, a.k.a. a vacation at home. We definitely made the most of it and had fun, fun and more fun.

Monday - grilled bacon wrapped teriaki chicken skewers, and swimming at the fitness center
Tuesday - an endowment session at the Jordan River Temple, Five Guys burgers and fries for Greg and I while the boys ate at McDonalds with Pappy and Grandma Betty, games and rides at Jungle Jims, and cupcakes from The Sweet Tooth Fairy
Wednesday - picnicked, playing on equipment, played in water park, and fed ducks at Liberty Park with the boys' cousins Trevor and Davis, sweets from Cummings Chocolate Studio, haircuts from Aunt Sariah, and Kung Fu Panda 2 at the drive in theater
Thursday - Animal Country at Thanksgiving Point, and book group
Friday - Fat Cats bowling, games and pizza with the Riding family, scrapbook overnighter with my girlfriends for me (pages I completed shown here), and family BBQ for Greg and the boys with the Hess side of the family at the Baarz home
Saturday - more scrapbooking for me, Ward Carnival for Greg and the boys, and a LONG nap for the whole family