Monday, January 31, 2011

Fun with bread dough...

This past week at work
someone brought in 2 pans of Bread Sticks along with the recipe for us to enjoy. It was hilarious as the majority of us went home and made them for dinner.  I didn't think they would be such a hit as they were, but this week we made six batches of this recipe.
 SO very yummy!! 
I adjusted the recipe as it called for melting an entire cube of butter and that is just WAY too much fat for me and my family's lifestyle.  
I cut it down to 2-3 Tbsp. and they were still as yummy and not quite a fattening. Also, used granulated garlic powder versus garlic salt as cheese has plenty of salt and we are trying to keep the salt/sodium in our lives to a minimum.

We enjoyed these with a batch of Beef Stew for dinner, I took them to one of my neighbors for dinner, we enjoyed them for snacks in our lunch and enjoyed them for a late afternoon snack on the weekend.  

My kids and hubby kept begging me to make more.
I really like both of my bread stick recipes.
While my original Bread Sticks recipe is a nice, chewy, cheesy bread stick that goes well with soup or pasta dishes, this new recipe lends itself to the topping and shape variations. It reminds me of the texture of a mall-vendor Pretzel.

Saturday I had to work from 8-12 
and as usual, I came home to Tracy being the "Weekend Chef" that he is and he had re-written his recipe for Creamy Noodle Parmesan and was in the process of making this up for lunch.   
I love his recipe cards he makes up! 
(love how he colors them, draws illustrations, etc...
he is SO talented and is such a JOY to be married to!)
This recipe is such an economical and great way to feed a family. It's one of the many recipes that Tracy cooks when he takes charge in the kitchen.   
We have VERY happy kids whenever this is cooked up for lunch/dinner!

SO, while Tracy prepared Creamy Noodle Parmesan, I whipped up a batch of Bread Sticks to enjoy with our lunch.
I took half of the dough and made a pan of Bread Sticks and the other half of the dough to make a pan of Pretzels.
 The toppings are endless
to what you can put on them.  
Jade really liked the melted butter and coarse salt. 
Ethan really liked the melted butter and Cinnamon & Sugar, 
while Tracy and I liked the granulated garlic and Parmesan Cheese.

Another great recipe that is...
SO yummy
such a fun treat to have for a snack, 
and is the perfect accompaniment to pasta or soup
and is guaranteed to make HAPPY kids and family any time they are made up!

Best of all they are
SO easy to make!!
Homemade Bread Sticks OR Pretzels
1 Tbsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
1-1/2 cups warm water
1 tsp. salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour
3 Tbsp. melted butter
(other possible toppings....granulated garlic, Parmesan Cheese, other grated cheese, cinnamon/sugar, or coarse salt)

Mix yeast, sugar and water together and stir well. 
Slowly add one cup of flour and salt and stir. 
Then add enough flour until dough is no longer sticky.
Knead for 5 minutes. 
Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour. 
Divide dough, roll out and cut into strips (a pizza cutter makes this easy). 
Twist 2 strips of dough into bread sticks or pretzel shapes and put on greased cookie sheet.
Brush with melted butter and then top with your choice of toppings. (our favorite is Granulated Garlic and Parmesan Cheese.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. (don't overbake)

(to keep moist, store in an airtight container or Zip-loc bag after they have cooled)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunshine for the Soul...Sunday!

"Discovering this idyllic place, we find ourselves
filled with a yearning to linger here; 

where time stands still and beauty overwhelms".

I enjoy SO much finding places of solitude out in nature, where I can just sit and meditate and feel peace!
This photo was taken 
at one of the many high lakes on the Beartooth Highway scenic drive we took in September 2008.   
 The lighting was just perfect and the reflection of the sunset over the lake is incredible.
I truly could sit at a spot like this and linger for hours because the beauty is just that overwhelming and gorgeous!  

Since moments like this don't last forever, then I am SO grateful to have captured such wonderful moments with my camera 
so I can have pictures of beauty hanging in my home, 
be able to view them anytime in our family photos, 
or I can have them for my desktop background on my computer!

I never tire of looking at nature photos 
from our family outings 
and it makes me always yearn to be able to go back out into nature and take in and enjoy the overwhelming beauty that so abundantly abounds! 

Love and appreciation for nature...
what a wonderful gift to have!!

Grateful my family enjoys
being out in nature as much as I do!
Labor Day Trip 2008
Beartooth Highway Scenic Drive
Elevation 10,947

Find the Beauty all around you...
For now
I will enjoy the gorgeous winter-time that we are having in Southeast, Idaho, while yearning to be back in spots;
"...where time stands still 
and beauty overwhelms"

Monday, January 24, 2011

Simple things mean the most!

"It is the sweet, simple things of life
which are the real ones after all".
- Laura Ingalls Wilder

Slowly, but surely,
I am starting to get my life put back together after months of home improvement projects and daily balancing acts of trying to keep everything organized and running smoothly in my home.
I thought I would pause for a moment and reflect on the
"Simple things"
that have meant so much to me these past two weeks.
Here's my week in Pictures...

This photo is kind of blurry because
there is hot steam coming up from the HOT water that is flowing out of my kitchen faucet.
Right before New Year's we came home from town and our kitchen faucet was leaking. Tracy took off the handle and noticed that the special nut that holds the valve in, had split. SO, we went to Home Depot thinking we would either get a replacement part, OR, buy a new faucet. We asked the employee in the plumbing department if they had a part we could buy for our faucet. He said "No", they didn't, but that all American Standard faucets had a lifetime warranty and we could call their toll free number and they would send us a FREE part. As I looked at the $64.00 price tag of buying a new faucet, versus waiting 7-10 business working days for a free replacement part,
I decided I would happily wait.
SO, needless to say, my kitchen had no HOT water for over 2 weeks and so it meant all of my dishes had to be carried on cookie sheets into my laundry room and washed by hand and dried in there. When you cook over 95% of your meals from scratch, that is A LOT of dishes to be washed and so everyday after work was spent, cooking, washing dishes and keeping up with shoveling the driveway as we have had MANY snowstorms these past few weeks.
Saturday, January 15th,
finally had running hot water in her kitchen sink.

What a blessing...
running water
and especially running HOT water
is something that I will never take for granted again.

This sweet note from Mr. Smith
just brightened up my Friday when I walked in the door after work!

The top tread for my library stool
that Tracy fixed up and painted for me for Christmas arrived in the mail and I have been wheeling that all over our house reaching and cleaning my shelves.
I LOVE my stool!!
I am blessed with the
most wonderful hubby in the world!
Feeling so grateful that even though life is busy and time is precious, he took time and spent the Saturday spending one on one time with Ethan building a Pinewood Derby car!!
They had SO much fun!
January 19th was Racing Night...
Ethan got 3rd place overall and he got the "Turbo" car award!
SO sad that we only have 2 more years of Pinewood Derbys...going to be
savoring each and every moment I get with this sweet little guy!

Out of the blue,
receiving sweet notes from kids and close friends

Even though Tracy's Saturday was busy building a Pinewood Derby car and tiling floor, installing our dishwasher and building in shelving in our bathroom I had mentioned that it might be fun to paint some of our frames "red", he surprised me by painting them.
How very, VERY LUCKY I am!

One of our yearly Traditions
is that of making "Gumdrop Bread" (aka Fruit Cake),
although I didn't get this made until January. Tracy commented how this bread tops his list of FAVORITE treats. I have to agree!
This is the yummiest!

As I was going through my many piles of papers,
I came across last years Mother's Day card that Josie (Tracy's mom) made me. She cut photos out of the newspaper ads and crafted clever sayings.
I LOVE this card!!

LOVE having order and my favorite of all, is having a completely cleared and cleaned table so we can light our candles each night and have FAMILY dinner together!!

LOVE my apothecary jars
full of Red Hot Cinnamon Lips
that we can all enjoy over the next month!
I bought bags and bags to fill them and so we are very much enjoying them
(and people who grace our home are enjoying them as well)
(AND some of the bags of Cinnamon Lips will be used to put on top of my
"Pink Cookies with Sprinkles"
that we will be making for Valentine's Day).

I have not had a dishwasher since September
and so Saturday January 15th
was also a monumental moment of FINALLY being able to load the dishwasher and actually have TIME to do other things besides wash dishes.
ALSO, as I look at this photo of our "Brassy" oak cabinets I love looking at the paint swatch of "Beach Sand Green" and other FUN things we purchased to finish our kitchen and knowing that some time this year we will get my kitchen cabinets painted, new knobs on the doors and finally get a back splash.
Yay for exciting things to come!
The lady that cuts my hair had some family issues and didn't know if she would be cutting hair anymore. I last got my haircut in November and usually get it cut every 4-5 weeks.
I was SO excited on Monday January 17th when she called me and told me I could come and get my haircut on Thursday. YAY!
Feels so good to have a haircut!

Every time I walk by this old record jacket sitting on a shelf in our TV room it makes me smile!

Tracy and I found this at our local second hand store a few months ago for 50 cents. This was apparently a popular album from the sixties and when Tracy saw it, he remembered it right off (I wonder why, LOL?).
He exclaimed, "My parents had that album! For that matter I think most people my parents age had that album".
For nostalgia sake, we had to get it!
We then purchased the music from the album from the iTunes store (we have no record player) and we have been enjoying letting our kids listen to some of the songs that we enjoyed when we were kids.
The holidays were a hectic time and so it is SO much fun to be back in a routine and SO much fun to be cooking again. These are some of the YUMMY things we made up these past few weeks for dinner/treats!
Sweet and Sour Chicken Stir-fry, Hamburger Gravy over Cauliflower, Split Pea Soup, Home-made Buttermilk Biscuits, Applesauce Muffins, Chow-Mein, Multi-Grain Rolls, Orange Rolls, Home-made OREOS, Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, baked Salmon and steamed veggies, Salted Nut Rolls and the list goes on!

What a cherished thing my notebook is.
Many days each week, I come home to my notebook opened on the counter with a love note from "Mr. Smith"!
I feel SO lucky that each week I get a date night with him and feel SO blessed that each and every day I know and can feel how loved and cherished I am!!

Running, clean HOT water, clean drinking water, nourishing food to eat, family and friends that love me, weekly DATE Nights, making progress towards my goals each week, having a HOME where we have LOTS of fun, joy and laughter each day...
these "Simple things"
make me the happiest, luckiest girl in the world!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


What an amazing start to the New Year
I have had…it has truly been life changing.
While my week had several turns that I hadn’t anticipated, it is wonderful and one of my favorite quotes by Thoreau is finally going to become a reality!:

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you have imagined
Christmas 2010
since I work with so many college students who wanted to go home out of the state for Christmas, I decided that the way the holidays fell, it meant I would have a 4 day weekend and then a 3 day weekend and so I decided to take the first week of January off so I could try and get more order to my clutter-filled life.
During the Christmas break I re-read (here)
It’s all TOO muchby Peter Walsh
I absolutely love this book.
It’s such a fun read and makes me laugh around every page. Re-reading this book got me on a roller coaster that is going to have our home pared down to have “exactly” what we need and not any more.
Love the quote in his book by William Morris:

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know
to be useful or believe to be beautiful”.

Peter Walsh is SO spot on with everything he says and I especially like what he says about the Master Bedroom…
”The bedroom furniture and your clothes can stay…all else goes…you heard me; your bedroom furniture and clothes, that’s it”!!
So happy, that our Master bedroom has never been filled with unnecessary clutter, although I know many people that have anything and everything stored in their master bedroom.
That is the one room in my home that never has been burdened with this.
Having one week off from work,
I got to send my men out the door each morning. Ethan is such a clock watcher and is meticulous about how he spends his time and making sure he makes it to the bus on time. (he takes after his mom in this way)
I had to snap a few photos of him running out the door one of the mornings I was home.
LOVED these special moments!!
The first day of my vacation
was spent completely deep cleaning our master bedroom (including heave-hoeing both mattresses off the bed by myself) and vacuuming the years worth of dust bunnies that were hiding under the bed and behind all of the bedroom furniture.
Baseboards were cleaned, edges of the carpet vacuumed, windows/window sills cleaned…everything neatly folded and organized in our closet and dresser. 

We also sent on a large garbage bag full of clothes/shoes to our local charity. Our room is perfectly clean and sparkling is what it is!! The master bedroom is the most important room in the house and I was so happy to give this room my first priority on my time off!
Miracles do happen…
I had Christmas taken down and all neatly put away by January 5th. That is a major accomplishment as my Christmas usually doesn’t get taken down until my visiting teachers stop by towards the end of the month. (we’ve even had years that our Christmas has been up until February).
I LOVE walking in my home and seeing order in our living room and not seeing remnants of Christmas in January. Since our living room doesn’t get used much, it is easy to let Christmas stay up longer than normal.

It’s all too much
is truly one of my favorite books as Peter Walsh knows humans so well and knows all of the excuses we will have when we start to “de-clutter” our lives.
I decided, we are not going to buy any more hangers for our clothing,
I am not going to just “re-organize” everything we have in a different way.
I wanted to make a drastic change
and actually pare down our life to LESS

"Less is More” is our motto
and while we have got a plan and are on the fast track to becoming debt free, we have been drowning in clutter and too much stuff!
We want to have a manageable life that is not weighed down by stuff.
We want true Freedom and true Freedom comes from not being burdened down by clutter or debt.
We want a life that once our goal of being debt-free is realized that we could pare down to a smaller space and be content with life because we have been SO used to living with less and being content with small spaces.
When our kids are grown Tracy and I want to travel and truly see and experience this wonderful world that we live in.
Having too much stuff, prevents us from being able to make our goals become a reality!
We sent on five pick-up truck loads of really nice furniture, clothes, treadmill, exercise equipment/gadgets, nice decorations, craft projects, lamps, bumper-pool table, giant old TV (in perfect working order) and circa 1992 entertainment cabinet, writing desk and end table that Tracy made while I was pregnant with Jade,etc... to our local Charity (Deseret Industries) and two pick-up truck loads of trash (mostly paper) to dump/recycling bins.
WOW and we still have a ways to go, but it feels SO good to let go of things

”Let go of the old to make room
for new and exciting things"!
For Christmas
Tracy purchased the following books for us to read:
“Little House on a Small Planet” (here)
“Living Large in Small Spaces”. (here)
I very much love these books and I can’t wait to have time to finish them...truly life changing books.  
While Tracy and I have always romanticized the idea of “cozy/small spaces” and have been trying to commune with the idea of “Small space living” for the past few years, it has really been the past six months, that we have been intrigued beyond measure by the idea of living MORE in LESS space

Thus our love for the following Blog
(so many great ideas and plenty of eye candy on this blog)
I learned more than ever this past week
that our house is WAY too big!
While our main level is 1500 square feet, since we have an unfinished basement (except for our food storage room), our basement has been a “catch all” for extra furniture, PILES and PILES of paperwork that I haven’t had time to deal with that just gets piled down there
Tracy is always amazed
at how I can “Stage” our house to look perfect and clutter free when company comes, but that also means, that the piles got moved to someplace else
out of sight, out of mind. 
Tomorrow just never seemed to come…
until January 6th

I decided I was going to tackle this head on, SO,
I moved every single pile of paper in my house...
and dumped it on the kitchen counter, kitchen table, area rug and love seat.
I wanted to know what I was dealing with and didn’t want to hide my head in the sand anymore. I figured that if I just pulled one pile at a time up from the basement that I would probably not get things organized and one day would roll into the next, like it has done for the past 10 years.
I sorted everything into piles according to category, took all of my organizing bins and sorters to a different room (so I wouldn’t be tempted to fill the containers, just because I had them) and then started the painful process of deciding what to keep, what to throw out, etc….
Since moving our kids into the smaller bedroom and making an actual TV/media room last Spring, we have finally decided to move our main computer out into our kitchen area (right now this has been where Tracy’s computer has been and I have had my computer in the TV Room). We are then going to make a docking station where he can keep and use his lap top.
We are going to treat our computer/office like they would on Apartment Therapy and scale our life down to having everything we could possibility need (except our food storage) organized on our main level (we will eventually make a room to be creative in the basement), but first things first.

Can’t wait to commune with LESS,
so I can truly have MORE!
No more wasting time trying to figure out what “pile” that item I need to find is located in.
No more being disorganized with things that I am late in getting birthday cards off to people that I love and care about.

Join me on my Journey to de-cluttering
and getting ORDER to my home once and for all!

From now until I am done, I will be doing a regular posts, showing our progress and the creative ways we are dealing with our space.
Also, more recipes and posts showing our family events coming as well! De-cluttering my life and getting order will truly bring Freedom to my life and give me more TIME to spend on the things that really matter in my life;
family, friends and hobbies!

Happy January, Happy 2011
and Happy Simplifying my life!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Our Merry Month of December!

I love the Christmas Season
it’s such a happy, wonderful time of the year!
I’m just sad that this year it feels like it flew by faster than normal.
I can’t believe it’s January 1st.

Before anymore time passes, I need to share all of the many
“Merry” moments of our December 2010 that brought
happiness and JOY to my life!!

Saturday December 11th
We made the Trek to my parents house in Honeyville, Utah.
SO many FUN things and more important, so many ADORABLE kids to enjoy!
The day started off with a Hay Ride where we drove around the neighborhood and sang Christmas Carols.

Grandparents and Grandkids...

My sister, brother-in-law and their three kids have recently moved to Kent, Washington and so what a WONDERFUL blessing to have all of their grand-kids there for a quick photo.
This photo is PRICELESS!!

Next, on the days activities...
making Gingerbread houses. Carissa was SO cute as she kept eating the roof of her house. She didn't care if she got any candy put on it.

and last but not least...
acting out the Nativity!
SO cute. Little Ava, was such an adorable Mary and took great care of Isaac (who was Baby Jesus)
Good Times!!

Loved going to Ethan's
Christmas Program on December 16th!
There is nothing that puts you more in the Christmas Spirit than the JOY and singing of little kids!!
(the photo on the bottom left makes me sad....this is Ethan's good friend Tucker and his mom has Breast Cancer.
Hope 2011 brings a healthy recovery for her!)

Feeling SO grateful that at this moment in time
me and my family all have our HEALTH!)

Saturday, December 20th
Jade looks SO handsome in his new shirt, pants and tie!!
Jade's and Karissa's Christmas Dance!

They had a BALL!!
(they are wearing old shirts as they didn't want to spill anything on their clothes).
A toast, yummy salad, laughter, Calzones, MORE laughter, Cinnamon almonds...
A perfect night!!
What a handsome couple...

Off to the Dance we go!!
Tracy spends Sacrament Meeting
writing in his journal each week...
this journal entry was priceless!!

Christmas Eve 2010!!
We spent the evening at Tracy's parents...delicious soups, breads, appetizers, veggies plates and LOTS of fun!!
Adorable kids all dressed for the Nativity.
Cole Makai was our AWESOME angel!!

More photos of the evening fun.
No Smith get-together would be complete without Tracy's dad playing his guitar and singing us a song or two!

Christmas Morning was beautiful
with sun shining in our windows, JOY and MANY happy, wonderful memories!
Ethan's highlights
were getting a Rubik's cube, Mario 64 game for his DS and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books.

Jades highlights
were getting a new watch and a DOWN filled jacket (along with other trinkets)

I got spoiled by my kiddos...
Battery powered candles from Ethan
(SO excited to use them for family candlelight dinners)
Butterfly shirt from Jade
(He knows his mom well as I am very much a butterfly lover!)

More photos of our FUN morning...

Tracy surprised me with this library stool
that he had found at the dump...
he put a mending plate on it, sanded it down and painted it a HAPPY red color and made it like brand new!! I have always wanted one of these stools, but new they are over $70.
love, Love, LOVE it
SO excited to use it in my pantry!
(the top rubber tread should be arriving sometime the first week of January)
Christmas lunch...
the most delicious Omelette filled with mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, ham, eggs and topped with cheese and tomatoes
AND Spiced Cider!
Perfectly Delicious!
Tracy's parents and his
sister/brother-in-law Shelley and Joel
joined us for lunch and after lunch we enjoyed watching AVATAR (on Blu-Ray) in our TV room where we enjoyed bowls of popcorn and treats and the evening ended enjoying our Christmas Clam Chowder.
It was a perfect day...
enjoying two meals with our family, gathered around our dining room table, great conversation, a movie, yummy food...
I can't think of anything else that would have made it more perfect!
So happy they enjoyed our Christmas day with us!
Jade in his new Christmas clothes...
(photo on left is his new coat...
photo on right is new outfit from Grandma)

Ethan wearing his new clothes...
(from Grandma)

Tracy's Christmas Journal Entry
Gorgeous sunrise & sunset
that we experienced during the holidays!!

Tracy and I
FINALLY had a moment to get all of our onions from our garden, put in nylon stockings and hung in our Food Storage Room.
(they've been sitting in crates in our garage since harvest time)
What a lovely sight...
SO happy to go down and cut off an onion that we grew in our garden and prepare yummy food for my family!

It truly has been...
"The Most Wonderful Time of the Year"!!
Looking forward
to many, many more
wonderful memories in 2011...

Have truly enjoyed the past week with my family...
Lots of reading, cuddling on the couch/bean bag watching movies, playing games, holiday treats, breakfasts of English Muffins with poached eggs, bacon and Swiss Cheese, endless amounts of clementines and oranges to eat, cracking and eating LOTS of Pistachios, trips to town, getting cozy by the fire, having days where we stayed in our PJ's all day, enjoying the lights and glow of our Christmas Tree, working on home improvement projects, back massages, staying up and watching the BALL drop on New Year's Eve and letting our kids experience the taste of one of our childhood treats
"Sen Sen"
(the reaction of Jade and Ethan when they tried this was priceless!)

So, sad that our holiday will soon be over and then it's back to work and school.
I could spend every moment of every day with Tracy, Jade and Ethan and never tire of them!

Time spent with family,
truly is my most favorite thing in the world!