Monday, October 13, 2014

It's like riding a bike...

I am hopeful that is true. I haven't blogged in a while, but I would like to think that it will come back to me. I still have things to say. Since it has been so long, I thought I would give you an update on how life is going.

When I was a teenager, I made a list of qualities I wanted in my future husband. None of those 1,638 qualities included what career I wanted my husband to pursue. I just wanted him wanted him to enjoy what he did. I wanted him to feel like he was making a difference. I wanted him to be happy. I also wanted him to want to provide for his family so I could fulfill my role as a homemaker.

I was very blessed with a husband who took his role as a provider seriously. When Joe was writing full-time, I knew it wasn't his favorite thing to do. It wasn't making him happy. He didn't feel like he was making a difference in the way he could. So we moved away from our families and friends, and he started teaching. Teaching makes him happy. He's getting the chance to make a difference.

I miss having him around all day, but it makes me appreciate the time we get together even more. I was spoiled the first two and a half years of marriage. I got to hang out with my best friend all day. Anytime I had something to tell him, I just told him. I didn't have to worry about schedules or interfering with his work. Life was great, but it always made me a little sad that he wasn't finding joy in his work. It makes me very grateful that he was willing to keep doing that to provide for our family until he got his dream job.

Now that he has that dream job, our home is different. (Other than the fact that it is just me at home most days.) He adds to the peace and happiness level when he comes home every day. I didn't even know that was missing before.

I love almost everything about Arizona. I did not love the heat in the middle of the summer. It is very hot. I am hopeful that my body gets used to it so I don't sweat every time I step outside next summer. I also do not love how fast produce dies. I was used to buying things for a couple of weeks, but now it only lasts a couple of days.

I love how beautiful it is here. I love palm trees and cacti. I point out almost every tree and plant and tell Joe that I want them in our yard when we buy a house here. I am seriously going to have to pay someone to design my yard or it could end up looking like a nursery threw up on my lawn. I also love the temperature now! It's perfect. Plus it rains. Like proper rain. We used to joke that when we lived in Provo, it would rain for a couple of minutes and be done. Now when it rains it floods everything. The lightening storms and dust storms are pretty incredible.

Have I mentioned they have a professional baseball team here? Did I also mention that because they have a stadium here, the Cardinals get to play here? The stadium has a roof and is air-conditioned so we don't have to melt into puddles in our seats. We lucked out this year. The Cardinals didn't play in Phoenix until we moved here. Next year, it is earlier in the season. Either way, we are happy to get to see them live and cheer until our voices go away. It's pretty special.

We live 15 minutes away from the Mesa and Gilbert temples. We've only been to Gilbert so far. It is so beautiful. The doors are incredible - I will have to post pictures someday soon. They are my favorite. I went to the groundbreaking when I lived here before so it is incredible to see how much different the area is now.

I think that catches up most things. Life is good in the Zona. I left out is how I spend my days, and I did that on purpose. I have another post in mind. That is for another day. Soon.

Monday, June 9, 2014

I didn't forget.

It's been months since I've been here. Have you missed me? I decided to take a break for a while. Did you notice? I've been busy and so many things are changing that I had to reevaluate what I was doing with my time.

One of those changes: I am moving! Remember this blog post? That was your hint that it was a possibility. It just took a long time to make sure we were really going to Arizona! 

That isn't the only reason I stopped blogging. I am trying to decide what to do with my blog. I don't want to blog just to blog. I want to it to have purpose and either be something that I want to have a record of or something that will make a difference. It takes to much time if it isn't meaningful. 

I am not sure when I will be back. I have some things I want to do first. I'll be back when it is time. Don't worry. 

If you start to miss me, feel free to read old posts. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday 5: Five of My Favorite Free Apps

I think we all have them: apps that we rely on for entertainment, news, or whatever else. Today I want to share 5 of my favorite. 

1. Words with Friends - I think I've mentioned this a couple of times before, but one of my favorite games is Scrabble and to be able to play a game like this with family and friends spread across the country makes me smile. If you feel like it is getting a little too easy, add some of your own twists. Use only words that are associated with food or sports. Play vertical words only. It makes it a bit trickier. Plus it is a fun way to get to interact with people who live too far away to get lunch or play games. So until we all live in the same town, this is the next best thing!

2. Mormon Channel - Music, uplifting videos and articles about becoming like the Savior, videos to help children and youth learn the scriptures. I still love and use the LDS Library app and use it all the time, but this is a nice alternative if you just have some time to kill and want to feel the Spirit. We had a challenge in FHE a couple of months ago to take 30 minutes of watching TV time and watch the bible videos and Mormon Messages from this app instead. Give it a try. Let me know what you think.

3. Zite - This app was just purchased by the company who owns Flipboard, so I am not sure how the changes will affect this app. For now, I love Zite. You get to pick categories in the news that you want to read about. For example, some of my favorites are food & cooking, vegetarian (great for meatless meals and vegetable side dishes), frugal living (they tell you about coupons and deals), and iPhone apps (tells you when apps go free and what great new apps are out there). It also keeps you updated with world news and whatever else you want to read about. I am usually reading in this app more than any other every day.

4. Dictionary - I look up words all of the time. I like to look at the origins of words as I read the scriptures and look up words I don't know. Plus it gives you a word of the day and gives you access to a thesaurus in case you write a blog a want to use superior phraseology. (You get to be my hero if that sentence made you think of Friends when Joey wrote the letter to the adoption service Monica & Chandler were using. Bless your aortic pumps.)

5. Glow - I am going to end with my new favorite. This is an app designed to help people who are either trying to conceive or are pregnant. Before you ask, you would already know if I was pregnant. Trust me. It walks you through your cycle each month with information along the way. The facts about a woman's body are fascinating. They give you "tasks" each day to complete (like make out with your spouse like you are teenagers and compliment a friend today). It gives you a place to monitor changes in your body as you try to conceive. There are community forums to connect with others in your shoes (whether you are trying to conceive or are pregnant). It is easy to use and the information they give is personalized to you. I don't know how well it works for pregnant women (I hope to someday), but for those of us trying to conceive, it keeps track of everything and gives you some peace of mind.

What about you? What are some of your favorite free apps?

Photo of the Week: Tricky Way to Get Salad on the Menu!

I love salads, but there are times that it needs something a little extra. This week that something extra was making it in the form of a tostada. Tostadas have a little lettuce on them, but they are mostly toppings like refried beans, peppers, onions and meat. Well, this week we had baked corn tortillas topped with homemade refried beans, cheese, sautéed onions and peppers. Then we had salad on top of that with a little spicy ranch dressing. It was the perfect way to add some greens (and oranges and reds). Delicious.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Recipe: Frittata

Repurposing leftovers. I think that is something we all think about. After all, no one wants to eat the same thing 3 days in a row. (Unless they are some of my favorites like Honey Nut Cheerios or Caprese salad. I could eat these every day. Not kidding.) Okay so we have these left overs and don't want to eat them again and definitely don't want them to go to waste. We all have our go-to dishes for leftovers. Mine is almost always soup, especially in the fall/winter months. Now that spring is coming our way, I decided to branch out. 

I went with a frittata. Which always brings the question, what is the difference between a quiche and a frittata? Well, there are a couple of them. First off, quiche is a baked custard, so in addition to eggs, it has a good amount of cream. It is also baked in a crust. Frittata is like a baked omelet so there is very little (if any) liquid added to the eggs. It is a fantastic way to use up vegetables that are about to go bad or those leftovers we spent an entire paragraph talking about. Remember?

6 eggs (or so - I had a lot of add ins and wanted the eggs to play a dominate role. Feel free to start with 4 and add more if you need it.)
Vegetables of your choice - think about colors! (about a cup)
Sausage or bacon or ham (I'd stick to pig for this or go meatless - you'll need about a cup)
2 potatoes (can be used as a crust or cubed, sautéed and added to the egg mixture)
Cheddar cheese (about a cup)

Don't you love my measurements? That is how you know this is all about leftovers. I used what I had in my fridge. Do the same.

For this frittata, I decided to start with a potato bottom crust. (You don't need a crust, I just wanted to use up potatoes.) I sliced them thin and layered them in a cast iron skillet in a little melted butter. After they were layered, you want to season them. I let it sauté for about 5 minutes on medium low while I started cutting up some of the vegetables I wanted to use. 

Then I put it into a preheated oven for about 10 minutes while I prepped the other vegetables. Next, I blanched apparatus and sautéed red bell peppers. I already had leftover sausage ready to go. After that it is all about putting it together. 

I put the sausage right on top of the potatoes so I knew it was dispersed evenly.

Mix the vegetables in with the beaten eggs. I added a little bit of cheese to this mixture. I don't regret it. I do regret using a yellow bowl with eggs. I may never get that right. Sorry. Also, you are going to want to salt and pepper this mixture.

Carefully pour the egg mixture over the potatoes. This is when I realized I needed more egg. So I beat a couple of extra and added them to the top. 

Now let's talk about baking it. I baked it for about 20 minutes and added cheese to the top. After this point, you want the cheese to melt and the eggs to reach about 160 degrees. 

Cut it up. Eat it hot. Eat it cold. Add salsa. (If you're one of those people who eat ketchup on everything, go ahead, just don't make me watch. I still like you. Don't worry.)

I was busy talking to my grandpa and didn't watch the time as close as I should and overcooked it a little. The flavors were great and the texture was just a little off. It was worth it. We were talking about shooting targets. He taught me how to shoot. 

Now that I am done remembering shooting with grandpa (it's been way too long!), I am going to encourage you to give this a shot the next time you are wondering what to do with your leftovers!

Variety Tuesday: Preparing for General Conference

This week for FHE, I was in charge of the lesson. Since General Conference is less than a month away, I thought it would be a good opportunity to think back on some of the conference talks that touched my heart the most and to start thinking about questions I would like to have answered during the next conference talks.

I want to share with you one of my very favorite talks from Conference. It touched my heart in October and again last night as we watched it again. It's by Elder D. Todd Christofferson and could not be more important for the world to hear.

It's entitled The Moral Force of Women. Please read it or watch it. Even if you have already seen it, watch it again. Share it with the women in your life. (See me do that right now?) He has such an eloquent way of discussing the importance of women and their foreordained roles. I love this topic so much. I hear these words and feel empowered. I hear these words and know that I need to be doing so much better than I am now. I hear these words and know, without a doubt, that my Heavenly Father is aware of my thoughts, feelings, and insecurities. He's aware, and He is sending messengers like Elder Christofferson to reassure me. What an incredible blessing.

I am only going to write one paragraph on womanhood. Then I will move on to preparing for conference. I promise.

Women, as natural nurturers have the daunting task of raising children. We are responsible for teaching them... everything. We are responsible for taking care of their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs. We are responsible for transforming our home into a safe and loving atmosphere where the Spirit can dwell. We teach by example. We teach them to recognize the Spirit. We teach them right from wrong and love them despite choices they end up making. The list never ends. Luckily, the children that women are blessed to raise first knew a loving Heavenly Father who wants the best for those children. He is here to help. He has faith in you. He wants you to understand that there is NOTHING you will do that is as important. Raising children affects generations. Generations of YOUR family. Thinking about this overwhelming responsibility can make us feel discouraged or like we aren't doing enough. Well, there are a couple of things I want to say about that. Take an inventory and make sure you are doing everything you can with the help of Heaven. If you aren't, you can change that. Secondly, give yourself a break. Read Elder Christofferson's talk and let his words buoy you and encourage your efforts. The end.

Now I want to talk about preparing for General Conference. I have questions I want answered. No, I am not going to share them with you. Sorry. In order to feel like I have done my part to prepare to receive answers, I have been re-reading the talks from last conference. Personal revelation comes a little at a time and if I can form a foundation of knowledge and understanding before conference, the talks are going to help me that much more. I am praying for guidance as I study so I can do everything in my power.

So my message to you for today is that a Prophet of God is going to speak to the world 24 and 25 days from now. He is going to say something that you need to hear. I suggest you do your part and prepare to hear it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cooking Tips & Tricks: Cheeseburgers

Before I start blowing your mind with my tips & tricks for the day, I feel like we should have a serious talk. I was gone last week. Did you notice? I did. I wanted to talk to you everyday, but I was out of town. I've never seen WiFi with that quality before. (Luckily!) I didn't get email, couldn't play words with friends, didn't have access to food blogs, and I couldn't read updates on Twitter. What was I supposed to do when I woke up? Who was I supposed to give recipes to? It was rough. I am happy to be back though. 

Okay, that's all. We're all happy I'm here and full of information to share. Here we go!

I love a good cheeseburger. I love when it is summertime and we can grill out. There is something about the smoky flavor of a burger that makes it oh, so good. Utah weather has been crazy lately. For instance, it was almost 70 degrees yesterday. Tomorrow is calling for snow. (The temperature won't be below 40 degrees, so it will be rain, but still...) Anyway, today was one of those days that Joe mentioned grilling out, and once he mentioned it, I couldn't stop my mouth from watering. Since the temperature was on its way down for the day, we settled with grilling in instead. 

There are a couple of things you can do to make this almost as good as grilling out. 

First, FLAVOR your beef. I am going to list a bunch of things you can add to the meat. Choose a couple that go together and make sure you mix it together before adding the meat. (You only want to add enough to add flavor, you don't want to go crazy.) That way you don't over mix the beef. You should always add salt and at least a little pepper. I think you already knew that.

Worcestershire sauce
Dijon mustard
BBQ sauce
Hot sauce
Chili powder
Onion powder
Cayenne pepper
Red pepper flakes
Soy sauce
Italian dressing
Ranch dressing mix
Use your imagination -- and what you have in your cupboard/fridge

This is dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, and some hot sauce. Someday I will stop using the same color bowl for whatever it is I am mixing. I am so terrible at that. 

Next, mix the ground beef just enough to flavor it. Portion it into patties that are just bigger than the hamburger buns you bought. (If you made them, you are my new hero. I never know enough in advance to even think about being that ambitious.)

Now is when you need to heat the grill pan. You want it medium-high. You are also going to want to turn your oven on to 350 degrees. (You'll thank me later.) Put the patties onto the grill pan and leave them. You want them to develop grill marks. 

Flip them once and put the pan in the oven. It won't take them long to finish cooking, so this is when I start getting the toppings out. Let the burgers cook for about 5 minutes and turn off the heat in the oven. If you need more time to get things ready (tomatoes or onions or lettuce cut, onions caramelized, fry sauce made, etc.) you can leave the burgers in the now-off oven while you keep working. Feel free to melt cheese on the top of it now. 

The oven will be hot enough to melt the cheese perfectly. (Just remember not to take a picture of it.) Pull out the burgers and toss the buns under the broiler for a couple of minutes. Don't forget about them. No one likes scraping burnt crumbs from the buns. We all do it, but it's never the same. There is no coming back from that. Set a timer if you need to. 

Your burgers will be well-done, but not dry. The cheese will be melted. Now you can make your perfect cheeseburger. Add mayo, mustard, or ketchup. Add lettuce, tomatoes, and caramelized onions. Add crispy bacon or an onion ring or pickles. Make sure your burger requires a BIG bite. It should make a mess of your face. It should drip on your plate because it is so moist. It should make you want to keep eating. Serve them with fries or potato salad or coleslaw. You won't regret it.

I think if we all start grilling in, it will convince summer to come faster so we can all move our cooking to the great outdoors. Let's try, shall we?