Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Key Lime Pie... better than Cheescake!

 Oh the wonderful memories 
of Key Lime Pie...

 It's sad that one of Tracy's very favorite desserts 
is Key Lime Pie 
and yet, the last time we enjoyed this, 
was in the cafeteria at the U of U Hospital while convalescing,
 after I'd undergone an emergency cesarean section,
to deliver Ethan Kip, 10 years ago. 

I decided to surprise Tracy by making this for him and  
WOW, was it the biggest hit ever, 
the only sad thing was that we didn't make up two of them, 
because the first one just whet our appetites and left us wanting for more!

I was a little nervous to make this 
as I didn't have any Key Lime Juice or "Key Limes", 
but, I decided, why not just be frugal  
and use the regular limes that I had an abundance of.

SO, I juiced up 3 limes (which gave me the 1/2 cup of juice I needed) and it tasted perfect!
I can't believe how easy this is to throw together 
and it only has 4 ingredients in it.

Also, I found out that one sleeve of graham crackers smashed up
 makes the exact measurement of 1-1/2 cups 
which is how much you need to make the graham cracker crust.

Key Lime Pie

Graham Cracker Crust
1 sleeve graham crackers finely crushed (1-1/2 cups total)
1/4 cup sugar
6 Tbsp melted butter
Mix all together and press into pie pan.
Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes

(1) 8 oz. package Neufchatel Cream Cheese (Light Cream Cheese)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (I juiced up 3 limes)

Beat cream cheese until creamy
Add in sweetened condensed milk and beat well
Add in 3 egg yolks, beat well again
Then add in lime juice and beat until creamy
Pour into graham cracker crust
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes (until filling is set)
Remove from oven and let cool
Chill in fridge at least 2 hours before serving.
Garnish with fresh lime slices...

Make up gourmet pie today 
(2 would be best)
and find out how EASY it is to throw together and 
it is something that makes you feel like you've gone 
to a gourmet restaurant and truly tastes better 
than any Cheesecake could you whip up for yourself!

Monday, February 27, 2012 at first bite!

such a yummy treat that I have been making up 
since Jade was just a wee babe.
It was one of my boss's recipes that she would make up and  give to us as a treat for the holidays.
I love that it uses ingredients that I always have on hand 
AND I love how quickly it comes together.

There have been many a time when we have had unexpected company stop by
OR, when it's 6:00 and you realize your hubby doesn't have a treat to take for his boys to Scouts that night, or kids remind you last minute that they need to bring a treat to school or a party...
This treat is what I always throw together for times like this  
because you can make it in a matter of MINUTES!

 I love the THRIFT of popcorn...
such a tasty snack and treat  
it only costs 23 cents per 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
to pop up a batch of popcorn.

1/2 cup of popcorn will fill a LARGE metal bowl.

Turn your popcorn into Carmello 
and here is the break down in price:
75 cents for butter
27 cents for brown sugar
33 cents for marshmallows
$1.58 is the cost to make up a batch 
of CARMELLO for your family today!

(click here for RANCH popcorn recipe)

Gotta love making homemade treats that are 
QUICK and easy to make 
and use food storage ingredients! 

1/2 cup popcorn kernels popped in air popper
(put into large metal bowl)

(Caramel Coating)
3/4 cup REAL butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 cups of marshmallows

Put the butter and brown sugar in a microwave safe bowl and cook on high for 2 minutes.  
Add the marshmallows and cook for another minute, (or until marshmallows are melted).  
Stir again and pour over popcorn and stir well with a metal spoon until all popcorn is coated.  
(after it has cooled I remove the popcorn and "break it apart" and put it back into the bowl so there are nice pieces for people to  grab and eat).   

Enjoy a quick & easy
frugal & yummy 
treat today!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

You're having what for dinner?!?

 I absolutely LOVE my in-laws!  
It is SO much fun to have them for parents and grandparents to my sons. 
What I love most about them is how every time we go over there
they are always feeding us a new recipe they tried out.

HEALTH is such a priority to them 
and they love nourishing and feeding their bodies 
with such healthy, yummy things.
Well, we went over to their house a few weeks ago
and they had to make up a favorite salad that they had gotten off "Dr. Oz".
 Who would have known that sauerkraut was SO good for you! 
It is a great way to protect the balance of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract.
Sauerkraut is also super alkalinizing as well.

 You wouldn't think it would be good,
but it is SO tasty and I can't believe
my kids LOVE it!!
Tracy's parents put in crushed crackers for crunch, but I deleted out the crackers and we just topped our Sauerkraut Salad on top of homemade toasted Artisan Bread.
 very economical to eat and something to JAZZ up your diet a little bit
that is different and a fun change from the monotony
of the same old same recipes we all get in a rut making up.

(one 32 oz. jar of sauerkraut was $1.69 
and it made two different batches of this...)
Sauerkraut Salad (original recipe for Dr. Oz's salad here)
16 oz. sauerkraut (1/2 of a 32 oz jar)
1 large tomato finely chopped
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup grated cheese (we enjoy Swiss, or Guyere... Mozzarella is good as well)
pepper to taste
Mix all together and let sit at least an hour
Serve on top of toasted Artisan Bread.    
Great appetizer, OR, meal.

Enjoy all the wonderful health benefits of sauerkraut today 
with something that is delicious
is easy to make 
and works for a main course, or side dish!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Becoming Jade's Mom!

"A mother is the truest friend we have,
when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us;
when adversity takes the place of prosperity;
when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us;
when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us,
and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels
to dissipate the clouds of darkness,
and cause peace to return to our hearts".
~Washington Irving

I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot lately, as I have been trying to focus on Jade's strengths so we can help him have the BEST life he can and use his strengths to give him some kind of a career once he moves on from High School.
I am realizing that life hasn’t turned out the way I thought it would, but it’s been a wonderful life indeed!

There comes a time in most of our lives,
where we hear the words come out of our mouths that have every range of emotion from excitement, fear, stress, nervousness thrilled beyond measure and anything and everything else in between…those words:
“I’m pregnant”!
From the moment I found out I was pregnant with Jade,
I watched everything that I put in my mouth, trying to avoid anything with preservatives, wanted to make sure I ate a balanced diet and took in plenty of B-Vitamins and Folic Acid and doing everything I could to make sure I delivered a healthy baby.
I treasured each and every moment of pregnancy
and I loved more than anything feeling the baby move all of the time and knowing I had a sweet little human growing inside that I would soon be a mom to.
I was SO excited for the experience to be a mom!

When I went to my last doctor’s appointment and he checked me and I was dilated to a 3, he told us to meet him at the hospital and that we were going to have a baby before the night ended. Tracy and I took our time (almost 3 hours later) getting to the hospital, because we knew, it was our last moment that we would ever be just the 2 of us, until our kids were raised and out of the house.
Those precious moments together with just Tracy
and I are cherished memories that I will never forget!
The moment of birth is truly the most remarkable feeling I have ever experienced with going through all of the steps of labor
(only had ½ dose of Nubain and nothing else for pain) (which I even commented after Jade was born to the doctor: “that wasn’t bad at all”!)
To that first moment when you lay eyes on your little bundle of joy, you want to look them over and make sure they are perfect and have all 10 fingers and toes and check out their features and see who they look like and how much hair they have and you think of the dreams you have for that precious child that you will love and be a parent to.

You love and enjoy every moment,
from cuddling and reading,
to swinging and experiencing nature with them
to dressing them up in cute clothes and styling their hair.
And before you can blink your eyes,
they are starting school and you can’t believe how grown up they are.
Everything seems perfect…
and then just when you think things are going great, you get a call from the school of their concern for your child and how behind the other kids he is and how he doesn’t seem to be grasping learning.
So, you decide that maybe he is a little immature for his age and so you hold him back a year, but realize that is not helping matters at all either.
For some reason he is challenged greatly with learning
and probably will be for the rest of his life.

(Jade was eleven years old and this is how he put the puzzle together...
It totally broke my heart that I had to take a photo of it. He had fallen asleep by the puzzle and was frustrated that he couldn't figure out how to get the pieces back in the right places even though we had helped him over and over successfully put them in the right spot!)

I felt helpless and wanted SO badly to help him and see him succeed.
For the next few years I bought every child’s book I could get my hands on and filled an entire book shelf.
I read constantly to him,
bought flash cards, puzzles and many other learning tools hoping that the more we worked on things, somehow it would “click” and he would be able to learn and be where the other kids his age were in class. Try as I might, nothing I did, seemed to make much of a difference for him academically.

It was the hardest thing ever to come to terms as a parent to realize that I had a child with a serious learning disability, who was tested and had a low IQ as well and an even harder thing, was telling people that you have a challenged child who is in the “Resource room
(which used to be labeled “special education” when I was growing up).
(Ethan is sure enjoying all of those books I purchased for Jade…
he thinks we have a library!)
We have come to know really well the words IEP (Individual Education Program) “Special Needs” and “Study Skills”.

The hardest thing about this is,
for the most-part, Jade looks normal and can communicate quite well
although he doesn’t always use the big words he likes, in the correct context and often gets stories twisted and details get misconstrued.
Even so, his social skills are remarkable!
He loves fashion and notices every single detail of what people are wearing, what they look like etc…
He is actually amazing in this area!
Jade has more friends than anyone that I have met.
We drop him off for school and there are SO many kids (including lots of cute girls) that are always coming up to him and saying “HI” and going out of their way to be nice to him.
He is a very well liked boy and is SUCH a social bug!
He absolutely LOVES people!!

The saddest thing of all, is that he is so behind others, he doesn’t really have a “best friend”. He has plenty of people that are nice to him, but no one person he can go and “hang out” with. Thank goodness he has us for his best friends (his only true friends), but there is nothing better for kids then to have ONE person their age that they can relate to and share life experiences with.
It makes my heart ache that he wants SO badly to have close friends, but everyone has their own groups of friends and they never seem to include Jade.
The saying is true…
when the school doors have closed and the sun has set,
everyone has forgotten about Jade and
they are all into their own groups of friends and activities.
I’m so grateful for organizations such as
the Cross Country team and Track team,
where Jade can participate and feel like he's a part of a team.
He loves running and it doesn’t seem to bother him that he comes in last. He always says after each race: “I sure did a good job today”! He has had SO much encouragement from all of his team mates and even though he does come in last, he has the biggest cheering section of people that care about him!

I’m greatly saddened thinking of him wanting to be independent, but not being able to read and write well enough to ever be able to take and pass a drivers license test.
(someday, we hope that can happen…I’m crossing my fingers).
We have sad moments, thinking of what kind of job Jade will be able to get that he could provide for himself someday.
He loves art and loves to work with his hands and gives the world’s BEST massages.
Someday, he would love to be a Massage Therapist,
or help elderly people in providing relief through massage.
I hope that someday he can really make that dream become a reality.
We were also sad, thinking that Jade may never go on a date,
because he can’t drive and if a girl did ask him, it would probably be a “charity date”…
that was until we met Karissa, a sweet girl with similar challenges and she and Jade have a lot of fun together and have gone to 3 dances this past year and had LOTS of fun.

Each time I go to see Jade at school and go and see the kids that he is around all day that have severe challenges, I leave the school crying as I drive home, thinking that my son just wants to be normal.
He deals with A LOT each day, even more than I can ever comprehend.
He is truly a blessing in my life!
We’re not sure if his challenges stem from the fact that when he was born, he was a little blue and they whisked him right away as he wasn’t breathing well.
We have even been told that he has characteristics similar to a condition called “Williams Syndrome” and we are looking into getting him genetically tested to see if this is what he has.
Whatever he has, it’s not curable.
Now he is half way through his Junior year of high school and is barely reading at a 3rd grade level and can’t really get his thoughts from his head down onto paper without serious help from us or his aides at school.
I have finally had to deal with my
most challenging moment ever as a mom,
when my nine-year old son writes, reads and does math and everything better in school than my 17 year old. It is so hard to praise Ethan and not have Jade feeling bad.

Life is definitely hard some days
to love and accept both of my kids for their strengths,
without making one of them feel badly.
Challenges and all, I love my life
and it is these challenges that have made me
the person I am today!
So grateful to be blessed with an amazing son
that truly teaches me what life is all about!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sugar Cookie dough...the possibilities are endless!

 I always love this time of the year 
as we make up batch after batch of
 "Pink Cookies with Sprinkles"
however, there always seems to be leftover sugar cookie dough 
and I'm always amazed at the yummy things we make with the leftover cookie dough.
 Fruit Pizza and Fruit Dip
 always get made up this time of the year... (recipe here)
 (leftover cookie dough, makes the perfect fruit pizza)

 but, I think one of my favorite alternatives to use 
Sugar Cookie dough for is that of making 
RAISIN Filled Cookies!!

This is a PIONEER recipe 
that goes back many generations and one that I have fond memories 
of my Grandma Laura making for us on many occasions!
(although I've used the modernized sugar cookie dough recipe of using sour cream instead of milk, but other than that, the dough/filling are something that has been passed down through the years).
So, yummy and SO easy... 
You can take one batch of sugar cookie dough 
and bake it up two different ways 
so that EVERYONE is happy, 
plus it adds a little variety.

PERFECT, served with a cup of tea or hot cocoa on a cold fall OR winter's day!!
I know what some of you are thinking. 
"RAISINS I don't think I could eat them!" 
Trust me, they are SO good and the raisins 
have a nice texture and consistency after baking in the cookies...
SO I am going to tell you a saying 
that I tell my children quite frequently...
Dr. Seuss says it best:
"Try them you will like them you see"
Raisin Filled Cookies
Sugar Cookie Dough Recipe..(here)

(Raisin filling)
1 cup raisins ground (I just coarsely chop them with a knife)
½ cup sugar
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup water
1 Tablespoon flour mixed with a little bit of water. Put on stove and boil.

Roll dough with plenty of flour and cut with round cutter.
Drop filling on dough and top with another round of dough.
Press edges together to seal well.
Bake at 375 degress for 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

A plate of homemade sugar cookies, 
whether topped with frosting and sprinkles, 
OR, filled with raisins and nuts, 
truly makes any day better!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Life is full of an abundance of LOVE....

Valentine's Day 2012...
I am greatly missing this handsome man 
staring back at me in this photo!
He is on a technology business trip to Boise and won't be back until tomorrow 2-15.

I have missed hearing his voice (although we have been in contact through email/texting, no phone calls though). 
I miss those electric blue eyes, his gorgeous smile, his contagious laugh, 
his funny sense of humor, his compliments...
I miss every single thing about him!! 

"Oh, if it be to choose 
and call thee mine,
love, thou art every day 
my Valentine"!
~Thomas Hood
I love these photos...
what's amazing about these photos, is they were taken the same year, by the same company.  
It's amazing that were are both laying on blue carpet, wearing red and laying down. 
 Who would have ever known that when these photos were taken, that we would find each other, fall in love and marry.
I have ALWAYS been a romantic,
ever since I was a wee little girl 
 I DREAMED of growing up, falling in love and being married.  
I dreamed of having a husband who would love me, who would be romantic,
kiss and love me each day when he came home from work, leave me love notes,
make our home a place where LOVE abundantly abounds. 
I dreamed of having a marriage where each and every day LOVE is shown,
romance is there,
a home full of FUN, 
memories created daily and
a refuge from the storm and place to feel peace. 

YES, I have all of these things I have listed above and MORE
in my wonderful life, with my wonderful marriage
to the most amazing man I know...
Tracy (aka "Mr. Smith")

One of my favorite quotes about LOVE
(which I cross-stitched and have sitting 
on one of the shelves in my house)

I am SO grateful to be shown true love
every day of my life and not just on  

Valentine's Day!!

You see, we have Valentine's Day 
each day of the year!

Like this quote says...
"Love is more than verses on 
Valentines or Romance in the movies....
 it is here and now, real and true the  
most important thing in our lives..."

It's a daily effort by both of us doing 
all of the "little things" that make life so big!!

Some of my favorites...I always get told I'm beautiful even when I'm not feeling beautiful (from having not so good hair days, OR, with my "double chin" neck that I inherited from my dad)
 I LOVE that we do everything together from daily walks together around the block, walking in rain storms,  hiking/backpacking in the mountains, enjoying weather of all kinds together, camping, playing in the water on the beach, enjoying nature with all it's gorgeous splendor like amazing sunrises and sunsets.  I love being by your side with all of our home improvement projects...

I LOVE the effort you put in to being up with me in the morning with helping out with getting the steel cut oats all in our bowls for us to eat for breakfast.  I LOVE having you come and sit on the counter in the bathroom and talking to me while I'm putting on my make-up and doing my hair to get ready for work.

LAUGHTER...your contagious laugh you bring to home and fill our lives with an abundance of laughing!  I LOVE this so much about you!

I LOVE raising sons together and being FUN parents... 
I LOVE DATE NIGHT each week and
love when you have uploaded new music to your iPhone
and created FUN music play lists to enjoy while we drive together.
(It shows that you were thinking about me during the day)

I LOVE on several occasions walking out of work and seeing your truck parked there and opening the door and having you tell me you missed me and you only worked half a day of work because you wanted to take me to lunch and spend the afternoon with me before kids got home from school!!
From daily kisses and 
"I Love you's", love notes, daily thoughtful acts that abundantly abound, having you catch me off guard while you turn me around while I'm making dinner and you take me and dance with me (pure bliss that is)

 Whatever it is we are doing,
I LOVE and cherish each and every moment with the Love of my Life Tracy!!
Yes indeed Love...
"thou art every day my Valentine"