Friday, January 30, 2009

Italian Baked Pasta & One Smart Cookie

Just wanted to share one of my family's favorite "comfort food" meals. My friend Jenny Carr shared this with me many moons ago and we absolutely love it. It is also a great meal to take in to freezes well and just omit the garlic powder and it's great for new moms.

Italian Baked Pasta

8 oz. pasta (the original recipe calls for ziti, but I use whatever is on hand...last night it was fanfalle)
1/2 lb. extra lean ground beef
3 cups favorite spaghetti sauce
2 cups Ricotta cheese
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to directions on package, omitting salt and oil. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, crumble meat in a large skillet; cook and drain. Add spaghetti sauce.

Combine Ricotta, Parmesan cheese, egg, parsley, and garlic powder. Mix thoroughly. Add pasta and mix well. Spread one cup of sauce mixture in bottom of 9 x 13 pan. Spoon pasta/cheese mixture into pan. Pour remaining sauce over pasta/cheese mixture. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes.

And on the way home from Utah, Anna uttered this treasure.

Anna: Dad? Do you know why I like being a girl?

Tony: Why do you like being a girl, Anna?

Anna: Well, I get to wear cute clothes, I'll get to be a mommy someday, and girls get to pretty much be in charge.

Obviously, the girl gets her brains from her mother.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Family Galore

I think this post will get me all caught up on Utah...I wanted to share some of the great moments captured during our time with our family. I'm posting them small, so click on them if you'd like to view them bigger.

Sweet baby Cora, just 6 weeks old.

Meeting baby Tucker for the first time on this trip...with Grammy Joan.

A very common sight in the evenings...gathered around the dining room table playing games. Thank you so much Russ, Becky, Donny and Lena for making so much time for us.

Swimming in the pool at Grandpa and Grandma's hotel. Just love the swimming suit wedgie.

Just look at those eyes.

DARLING baby Breea...Anna could make her laugh so hard! And getting to spend time with April and David. AND grandma, complete with crutches.

And our family gathered together to witness Sam's baptism. So wonderful.

And to the Condies and Dave & Ange...can't wait to see you in July!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Blog World Meets Real World

During our brief meeting last April when she took the little girls' photos, Heather from {unwrapped} and I decided that if the chance ever presented itself again, that we would get together for lunch. So during our time in Utah, we had the opportunity to grab a quick (and delicious, might I add) lunch at The Olive Garden. And after getting to talk without the distraction of little ones, I discovered that she is a very real, very sweet, and very sensitive person. AND she's beautiful. We had a blast comparing life's blessings and challenges and I look forward to meeting up with her again if chance permits. Thanks for the giggles, Heather!

From the time that I first found her blog, Sonja from Wonder Years has amazed me with her genuine kindness, her beautiful writing, and her darling children. Plus, she has GREAT taste in children's names...she also has a Sam and an Anna!! So I was so excited for the chance to meet her in person. We met with kids in tow at the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point...a place that we have never een before, but a place that Sonja and her kids were very familiar with and acted as great tour guides. Sonja is adorable in real life, and such a kind and patient mother.
It was so fun to get to visit in snatches while the kids explored the museum together. I was especially amazed at how much our Sams were alike...they must have been cut from the same cloth. They also presented us with the cutest gift...a card game for the kids to play in the car on the way home. It was so thoughtful and made the long hours in the car a little easier to bear. Thank you for taking the time to explore with us!

Although he is supportive of the idea, Tony thinks I'm a little strange to be so excited about meeting ladies in real life that I have previously met only online. But I know that my life has been enriched by the sweet and kind ladies I have met through our blog. I can't wait for the chance to meet more of you!

If you could meet some of your blog friends, who would they be??

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sam's Baptism

One of the main purposes of our trip to Utah was Sam's baptism. When we found out my parents would be in SLC for my dad to attend a dental course, we knew we had to make the trip. But there were so many bonuses...we got to see Grammy Joan's home remodel, I got to meet some blog friends, but most importantly, we got to see so much family (as well as meet our newest nieces and nephew) play games, watch American Idol, shop, recite The Office comebacks and reminisce. For those of you we missed, we'll be back in July as we make our way across the plains to our new home.

Sam's baptism day was perfect. About noon, the family (including my grandparents who made the trip from Boise) met at Joan's home to celebrate Sam with a yummy lunch. It was so great to see so many people who love and support Sam in the very important decision he made to be baptized. After lunch, we headed over to the stake center and took a few picture with the cutest 8-year-old around. I must say, Sam had a hand in every part of his baptism program...he made calls and personally invited all the family members to speak, pray and even asked his Aunt April to play the piano. Everybody did a wonderful job making it a day he is sure to remember.

As we were driving the last leg in our journey home yesterday, my mom called and told me that her favorite part of Sam's baptism was the huge smile he had on his face as Tony brought him out of the water...I didn't get to see that particular image because my eyes were filled with tears, but he radiated the entire afternoon. A smile we ALL love. Sam was also confirmed that day by my father, and as I took this picture of the amazing men in our family, I was so grateful to them for being such wonderful examples to Sam. There was so much love in the room.
Thank you to all who made Sam's day so special. Thanks to those who traveled so far to be with us. We love you and can't wait to see you again soon.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Josh {hearts} Grandpa

Our precious time in Utah is quickly drawing to a close. Tomorrow is the big day and we'll start our journey home after Sam's baptism. But today? Hanging out at the Dinosaur Museum at Thanksgiving Point with Sonja from Wonder Years and her adorable children (more on that to follow) and swimming in the pool at Grandpa and Grandma's hotel. And my favorite photo I have taken with my new camera thus far.

Have a wonderful weekend and we'll catch up next week!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Living Planet Aquarium

The boys all decided to go, well, "be boys" today and went on a pheasant hunt. So April, my mom and Breea came up to go to the aquarium with Lena, Cora, Becky, Tucker, Josh, Anna and I. Although the aquarium is on the smallish side, it was perfect for all the strollers and little legs we had with us. We all noticed how clean everything was and how healthy all the fish looked.

The kids had their favorites...

Josh liked looking at the fish through the convex window...
...Anna liked the seahorses...
...and Breea liked the sharks.

Lena and Becky even touched the stingrays.

Of course, we pressed a penny on our way out, took a double take at Bruce the shark suspended from the ceiling, and bought the obligatory sea creature for Sam. All in all, a fabulous way to spend the afternoon.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Checkin' In

We're here. And having such a wonderful time. Loving on the new nieces and nephew. Sharing stories. Missing those who aren't here. Playing Legos. Laughing. Eating Cafe Rio. And playing lots of Hand & Foot. There is so much to catch up on, but I will just share a photo or two for today.

This is outside the hotel we stayed at in Cheyenne. Loved the stone steps and Sam was so obliging to let me snap a few of him. He is the reason for the trip, after all.

And would it be a trip to Utah without lots (and lots) of games? This is just before the merciful coup de grace last night...Lena and I got schooled by the boys. (You have to let them win every once in awhile or they refuse to play with you anymore.)

Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Here We Go...

Things might be a little quiet for the next week or so. We're leaving on a family vacation (with trusty new Nikon in tow) so I'll have lots to share when we get home. I'll be checking blogs...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"Snow" Cute!

My friend Jen has this darling niece named Lindsay who has a craft club. And one of her crafts was so dang cute that Jen knew that we needed some glove-hatted snowmen of our very own. She was kind enough to have us in her home, cut the wood, provide the paint, and we had a ball! She even made enough for us to take to share with the ladies we visit teach. Thank you, Jen!

And hopefully this will be the last crappy picture you will have to endure on our new Nikon came today!! Now, I just have to figure out the dang thing...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Finding the Bright Spot

My baby napped a mere 45 minutes today. It is near-blizzard conditions outside with blowing snow and winds that are knocking stuff over. I have seven loads of laundry to fold and put away. Yes, I said seven. Anna has decided that it's super cute to talk in baby-talk. All.the.time. The tips of my fingers and toes are splitting because of the dry air. I have a house to clean and organize before we leave on our trip Saturday morning. Not to mention the inevitable packing. And probably even more laundry.

Is there a bright spot to my day? Maybe not yet...but there will be in about 3 hours when I walk into my bedroom, flip on my lamp, turn on my heating pad, and see this.

Sometimes, all you need is one little bright spot to make the day okay.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

King of the Wild Frontier

Today was Sam's much anticipated Davy Crockett birthday party! And let me tell you, this one was not easy for me. I do much better with pink princess fluff parties, but this is what I came up with for the big event. And it went great.
As the boys came in, Sam gave them each a coonskin cap that I found online, thank goodness. For lunch, we served ribs, baked beans, homemade biscuits and corn-on-the-cob, all on mess kit plates and out of mess kit dishes with Sarsaparilla on a muslin tablecloth. The Sarsaparilla was a hit...the boys kept toasting "to Davy Crockett" and knocking their bottles.

After lunch, we used a slingshot and marshmallows to shoot stuffed animals down the ledge in the living room and played stick-pull. The boys also managed to scour the basement for every conceivable weapon...we had toy shotguns, sidearms, pirate machetes, and light sabers all dukin' it out.
Then we opened presents and had ice cream and cake. The one great oversight of the day came when I went to get the candles out for the cake and all I had were hot pink candles... Thankfully Liz saved the day with some much more boy-appropriate colors! Then, as they left, each guest got their own Davy Crockett book. I didn't include a picture of the invitation, but it was essentially the same as the little tag...burned parchment on brown card stock.

It was a great day, and a successful party!!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Patience & Wisdom

Have a wonderful Friday!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy Burrthday, Sam!

The entire day of Sam's birth is a blur to me. My labor was short (about 3 hours) and I remember events in small segments. I remember sobbing as he was born and asking if he was really a boy. I remember calling my father and telling him that after raising four daughters, his first grandchild was a boy. I remember him crying when I told him we had named him Samuel James (James is my father's name). I remember being a bit worried that Tony seemed a little hesitant to pick up and hold our new baby. That is until the next morning when I got out of the shower to find Sam in Tony's arms, watching the first of many football games together. His birth seemed especially miraculous, I suppose in part because he was our first.

He continues to be an absolute delight. He is a kind, sensitive soul, a creator, and an awesome big brother. Happy birthday, big guy!! We love you to infinity and beyond!

Here is the first part of Sam's birthday extravaganza!! These are the cupcakes I made for Sam's class...the idea is from Martha Stewart and I added a little flag that says, "Happy Burrthday, Samuel!!" We'll have more to post after this weekend's highly anticipated Davy Crockett party. Whew!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

World War II Mania

Maybe it's because of our military heritage, but Tony and I are suckers for war movies. Granted, it took me three nights to get through Saving Private Ryan , but learning about the "Greatest Generation" who fought in World War II leaves me a bit nostalgic for a time when honor and duty ruled the day. But over the Christmas break, we took it to the extreme. Tony got the HBO series Band of Brothers for Christmas from his mom, along with a book by two members of Easy Company that were followed in the series. So we've been watching a couple of parts each night together. It has been simply amazing. Then on Friday, Tony and I went to the new Tom Cruise movie, Valkyrie. I hold no special esteem for Mr. Cruise, but this movie was fantastic. And a story that I had never heard before. Add to that that I am currently reading The Cider House Rules that takes place partially in the 1940's (and Megs just finished The Book Thief) and I've made a case for extreme World War II mania.

Do you have a favorite war movie that is inspiring to you??

**If you haven't seen Band of Brothers, you can click on the link in this post and view the official trailer.**

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Our Sam is a knowledge hound. He'll read about something in a book, or hear about it on a TV show and he immediately wants to go learn more about it online. This past week, he has been on an Australian kick because of a book called Possum Magic which is about a Grandmother possum that can make her granddaughter invisible with magic food. One of these foods was Lamingtons...a tasty treat that are very popular in Australia. So Sam and Tony found this recipe online and it was up to Sam and I to make a batch of Lamingtons this afternoon. Which we did. And they are fantastic. That is, if we do say so ourselves...

**One little note...if you do use the recipe we linked to, make sure you use a 350 degree oven...they use centigrade to measure the temperature in the ovens in Australia.**

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Herb-Roasted Turkey

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe New Year's Eve! Megan is back and she'll be hanging out here for a couple days until school starts up again on Monday. And when Megs is here, you know there'll be some cookin' going on! This was fantastic, and so easy your family will think you slaved

Herb-Roasted Turkey

5 lb. turkey breast
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp. pepper

Place turkey breast-side up in a crock-pot; add water. Blend together remaining ingredients in a small bowl; spread over the outside of the turkey. Cover and cook on low setting for 8-10 hours, or on high setting for 4-6 hours.

Happy 2009!