Saturday, January 30, 2010

Winter Beauty, Fun & Memories!


in Idaho

means LOTS
and LOTS
of snow!

What a beautiful month it has been!
The month started off
with my sweet hubby pulling my tires off my car and then mounting my snow tires (that had been storing away in our storage shed) on the rims .

I'm grateful
to have such a wonderful man that takes such good care of me. He always wants to make sure I am able to be safe on the slick roads. He also changes my oil, fills my tires with air, keeps my windshield washer fluid filled and keeps my old car running like a top.
I'm SO lucky!

We woke up to this fluffy stuff
on January 2nd!

What a JOY it is to have little kids!
Ethan drew a heart in the snow on our car window and he ran up to me and gave me a great big hug and said as he pointed to the heart: "I Love you mom"

was having a ball being outside in the snow that I had to snap a few photos of him.
What a Gorgeous day in the snow!

Ethan is my little boy who is always being silly.
He definitely soaks up all of the FUN out of life that he can!

Jade did NOT want to take any photos and so this is as good as it got.
However, I thought this was a cool photo that it focused on the tree and Jade is fuzzy in the background.

Winter Memories...
iPhone style!

Trying to capture a photo
of the last of the sunset!

LOVE the shadow of my hubby taking a photo...Very cool!

YES, we saw AVATAR 3D and it was amazing!

We thought we were going to have a relaxing day,
but we ended up spending the majority of the day shoveling out our driveway. I never complain when it snows because it means I will for sure get some exercise in the
EARTH GYM shoveling snow.

Any little bit of exercise
and movement in the winter is welcome to me!

A family
that plays together and shovels the driveway together...
STAYS together!

Sledding hill
with a gorgeous view of the Temple
in the background!

Sledding with the youth in our ward!
The kids were still commenting the day after
how much FUN they had!

Tracy heading over Teton Pass
on his way home from Jackson Hole, Wyoming after taking Travis, Cheryl and Hudson to the airport.
(SO grateful we bought some chains for our tires, otherwise, it would have been a treacherous drive down the pass. SO blessed he made it home safe and sound).


The beauty in our yard on
January 28th!

Winter months mean that I don't get to the see the sunshine in the morning and so my daily commute to work is in the dark. However, as I pulled out of our driveway I instantly noticed thick frost over the trees and sent Tracy a text message asking him if he would snap some photos of the beauty so that I could enjoy it when I got home in the afternoon.

These are the photos he took
so I could enjoy this beautiful moment...
even if I couldn't be there to enjoy it with him in person.
These photos are amazing!

I couldn't be happier, or more lucky and even in the dead of winter when it's a good day to have a high temperature of 30F degrees and most nights the temperatures are in the teens or single digits, my life is filled with much warmth and joy because of all of the love that so abundantly abounds in my home.

Another day, week and month of saying
"Life is Good"!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Versatile recipe for Beans and Rice!

If I were to think of one of my favorite meals,
this recipe would have to be my favorite. One of my favorite beans is Black Beans, I love chicken and rice and tacos and so this recipe fits all of that criteria.

Great to top with sour cream and salsa and dip tortilla chips in.

Also great to put in flour tortillas and make burritos that you can grab and go for lunch.

This is perfect to use as filling for Tacos. Put filling in taco shells, top with lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. Yummy!

This recipe
freezes well and since it makes such a large pot, it is great to freeze some to enjoy later when you need a quick meal to fix and don't have time to make anything!

I have made this
quite often when we have company over, because it's so quick and easy and versatile and is SUPER served with corn bread and a Spinach Salad.

The possibilities
to the uses for this recipe are probably endless!

1, 2, 3

Southwestern Chicken and Rice

2-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
(I only use 2 chicken breasts when I make this)
1 cup salsa
1/4 cup taco seasoning
2 cups water
3 to 4 cups cooked BROWN RICE
(brown rice makes the texture great---white rice makes it gloppy)

2 cans black beans (drained) (4 cups of beans total)
I always have cooked black beans in my freezer that I pull out and use when I make this--the day I made this batch I used mixed beans that I had leftover from another bean dish I made).

2 cups shredded cheese
(garnish with sour cream and tortilla chips)

Bring chicken, salsa, taco seasoning and water to boil in large skillet.
Cover, and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove chicken and cut into small pieces and then return chicken back to skillet. Return to boil. Stir in rice and beans. Sprinkle with cheese.
Cover on low heat for 5 minutes. Stir together so cheese is all mixed in.


How Frugal is this meal?

Black Beans--.68 (1 pound dried black beans soaked and cooked)
Taco Seasoning--.25
Total--$4.87 (Total with Tortilla shells--$8.25)
(Tortilla shells--$3.38 However, it we would have just served it plain we wouldn't have had this expense)

(We made up 20 burritos for this price so each burrito cost .41)

They taste as yummy
as something you would get at Taco Time and a fraction of the price!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Sunday walk in the Sunshine!

"Sunshine is delicious,
rain is refreshing,

wind braces us up,

snow is exhilarating;

there is really no such thing as bad weather,

only different kinds of good weather."

~John Ruskin

I can't believe how fast the month has flown by...
Time flies by when you're having fun!

I love that in my home I have 2 people besides myself...Tracy and Jade that LOVE to get fresh air and go for a walk each day!
Sunday walks are something that happen each week.

Winter Time brings many grey cloudy days and seeing the rays of sun shining through the clouds and bright blue sky are something that you don't see everyday and so these are treasured moments and something we try to savor every moment they come around.
The sky was so beautiful that day,
that I had to run back and grab my camera to capture the beauty!

Here are the photos from our 2 mile loop...

Jade decided to join us
and so did our dog Butch!

Mr. and Mrs. Smith!

The Love of my Life!
I never tire of being with this man!!

Enjoying feeling the warmth of the sun
on our faces!

I am always amazed
at how the sky can be SO blue and how the setting sun can cast such a beautiful light!
These trees look like it's Autumn time not Winter time the way the sun is lighting them up!

this definitely shows that we live out in the country!

The setting sun is starting to cast
a beautiful pink color!

I can see this view
from the back windows of my house.
I live in such a beautiful place!

The setting sun...

and now the sun's gone.
So glad we were able to see the sun before it set.
It was the perfect way
to end a wonderful Sunday and a perfect way to start the new week!

I have to agree with Sara Moss Wolfe...
Nature is my Medicine!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chocolate and Coconut= Yummy!

Wednesday January 20th...

what a day!

I was driving to work and noticed when I opened the fridge that morning that we had 3 bell peppers that we needed to use up. SO, as I usually do on my morning commute, I try to figure out what we will have for dinner and how my afternoon will be spent when I get home. I decided I would boil up a chicken and we would use our bell peppers and other ingredients for Hawaiian Haystacks.

I came in the door at 1:30,
pulled a frozen whole chicken out of the freezer and got it boiling on the stove, got a batch of bread mixed and rising and was folding a batch of laundry when "Mr. Smith" called me to let me know that we were having dinner at his parents house that night and that we needed to bring dessert
(and he added, Coconut Cream pie would be nice).

SO, on top of the other projects I was doing, I furiously made and baked a crust, made filling for the pie, decided to make a batch of Fudge bars (for the kiddies) and tried to juggle baking everything in my oven. (we had to be out the door at 5:45 heading to dinner)

(Tracy called me when he was almost home and told me to grab my camera as there was a really cool fog setting in...
this is the photo I took)

It was a busy afternoon
, nonetheless, but, it all turned out great, although, different than I had planned. It was topped off by a wonderful night and we enjoyed such a yummy Turkey Dinner feast and spending time with everyone in Tracy's family!
Lots of great memories!

SO, good news is we ended up with fresh baked bread and cooked chicken for chicken sandwiches and leftover Fudge bars for lunches and now we have cooked chicken and broth and all the fixings to make Hawaiian Haystacks for the weekend! less thing I have to worry about!
Thursday January 21st...
a wonderfully relaxing day!
Tracy and I went to Jade's Parent Teacher Conference early in the afternoon. It was fun to hear how Jade is doing and how well liked he is by his teachers!
We're proud of him!
We then
came home and got the car loaded with ski gear and Tracy, Jade and Travis (Tracy's brother) headed to the slopes to go night skiing. Jade has been looking forward to this all week. I'm SO glad they got to go enjoy time together skiing and creating memories.
Ethan and I spent most of the evening cuddled on the bean bag, reading stories, talking, laughing, eating popcorn and fruit snacks and watching a movie. No projects got done just "one on one" time with my son. Evenings like this (where you have 3 hours with no interruptions and the kids decide how you spend your time) don't come along often enough.
I savored every moment!

Which brings us to the title of this post!
Chocolate...means Fudge Bars!
Coconut...means Coconut Cream Pie!
Here is how you create this yummyness!!

Fudge Bars
1 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 cups flour
1 (14-ounce can) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 heaping tsp. vanilla

(For crust)
In a large mixing bowl beat butter on high for 30 seconds.
Add in
sugar and salt and beat until combined and then add in flour.
two-thirds of crust mixture onto the bottom of ungreased 9x13 pan.

(For filling)
In medium saucepan combine sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips.
over low heat until chocolate melts and it becomes smooth.
Stir in nuts and vanilla and pour over the crust.

Dot with remaining 1/3 crust mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until golden.
Cool completely and then cut into squares!

These are decadent and yummy and actually are great to make up if you don't have any eggs!

Coconut Cream Pie

2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup coconut
(1 cup Cool Whip) (although I never add this)
1 baked pie shell (click here)

In a heavy saucepan mix sugar, salt and cornstarch.
Slowly add milk. Cook, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes until thick.
Beat eggs in a bowl and slowly pour hot mixture over them.
Return to stove and cook for about 2 more minutes.

Add coconut, vanilla (and Cool Whip if you choose to add this).
Pour into pie shell.
with toasted coconut.
Chill several hours before serving

(to toast coconut,
place about ½ cup coconut spread out on a cookie sheet and broil in the oven until lightly browned. You will need to stir it often so it doesn’t burn).

(Thanksgiving Day
wouldn't be the same without this yummy pie!)

Happiness is life served up with a scoop of acceptance,
a topping of tolerance and sprinkles of hope.

~Robert Brault