Sunday, July 31, 2011

Annabelle


And some of her other nicknames:
"Curly Top"
"Blue Eyes" ("A little blue-eyed blonde, with shoes on wrong, who likes to dress herself."-these song lyrics must have been written for our Annabelle)
"Ladybug" or just plain "Lady" (she has a ladybug pillow pet she sleeps with every night) "Lovebug"

Friday, July 29, 2011

Camping, Boondocks, date nights

My 13-year-old niece Leia came to visit recently. Her family never travels here so we wanted to get some fun things in during her stay. A couple of those things were camping in our backyard and Boondocks. We set up our big tent and then roasted marshmallows around the fire pit. Leia and the three oldest kids slept in the tent while Scott, Jane and I slept in our beds :). We had never been to Boondocks before, but I knew Leia loved places like this so we bought a couple of gift cards from Costco and went to Boondocks for an evening. We took turns going on the different attractions because someone needed to stay with Jane. Annabelle and Charlie liked the bumper boats the best. Elisabeth liked the go carts. I think she would've enjoyed the
bumper boats more if it hadn't have been for this obnoxious father and his three sons(probably ages 10-14). Leia thought the dad may have been a little tipsy. They surrounded Scott and Elisabeth(by orders of their father) and completely drenched them from head to toe. The dad would get really close to Scott and cover the spray hole in such a way that they really got them good. His sons followed his example. And then the dad would laugh this awfully loud and obnoxious Pluto(from mickey mouse) type laugh. When it was time for everyone to bring their boats over; of course father and son stayed out longer than they were supposed to and then when they went over to the side, they sprayed Scott some more who was no longer in his boat(and which they were all told before hand by the employee, not to do). I watched from the side as all this took place and couldn't help imagining how these boys would behave in school with such a father as an example. I'm chuckling as I write this. I'm really not mad; but it was certainly obnoxious.











We went swimming in a pool a couple of times while Leia was here and Leia babysat the kids for us twice so Scott and I could go on a date. We saw Harry Potter 7, the second part, on opening day which was fun. I didn't dress up this year (I have black robes and a Gryffindor scarf I crocheted some years ago; I also have a pair of Harry Potter looking glasses) which was a relief to Scott :). For our other date night, we went out for Indian food as part of our anniversary celebration. The temple was closed on our anniversary, so we went the day after to do our traditional sealing session. I love doing this. When we do sealings in celebration of our anniversary, it really helps you think and remember the promises you made all those years ago. We found ourselves looking into each others eyes a lot and smiling. Afterward, as we were going down the escalator, a woman in her 50's who was in there with us, asked if we were newly weds. We explained to her that we like to come here on our anniversary and she added, "just the way you were looking at each other...". We took it as a compliment.

Monday, July 25, 2011

8 years ago...

Eight years ago today, Scott and I got married.I wouldn't have guessed 11 months before, when we met and became friends and soccer buddies at BYU that we would soon become best friends and get married.
I liked the white, sequenced flip-flops I wore with my dress :). They were very comfortable.
Later that day we had a luncheon at my good friend and former room mate's home in Virginia.
The next day was our reception in North Carolina. We played a little Frisbee while we waited for the reception to begin.







And then, soon after, we went on a month long honeymoon. First to a beach in SC where his sisters met us after a couple of days, and then to Europe for three weeks where we met up with my Mom and two siblings. We had a blast.

Appian Way in Rome
London

Colosseum in Rome
The Forum in Rome
St. Peters Plaza in Rome
Venice, Italy
Leaning Tower of Pisa
Arc de Triomphe

One of the many castles in Ireland

Buckingham Palace, London

Venice




Sunday, July 24, 2011

In the kitchen

This year we had a couple of late freezes which was hard on our garden. Some of our produce survived. We recently harvested some of our peas(and our neighbor and good friend helped with this when we were in Seattle). My kids won't eat peas unless they're fresh from the garden, so we love when these are in season. They pick them off the plant and eat them like candy.
Charlie checked out a book from the library called "Kung Fu Panda 2, Po and Ping's Recipe Storybook." We tried out the fried rice recipe from the book with some sweet and sour chicken, and most of us really liked it(Lis wouldn't try it ). Charlie especially loved that he was eating what Kung Fu Panda ate :). Here's the recipe for the fried rice:

Furious Five Fried Rice

2 eggs

pinch of salt

1 Tablespoon olive or sesame oil

2 c cooked long grain rice(I used brown rice)

1 green onion including the green top, washed and chopped

2 large carrots, diced (I like these steamed)

1 c peas (steam if frozen)

1 Tablespoon soy sauce(I used Bragg's liquid aminos)

Beat the eggs in a bowl with a pinch of salt. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the eggs, stirring occasionally until lightly scrambled. Add the cooked rice to the pan. Stir until there are no lumps. Add the onion, carrots, peas and soy sauce. Mix well and heat until warmed throughout.

Leia and Charlie helped make the rice. Elisabeth helped copy down some recipes from the book:

I don't use the oven as often in the summer. I like to have more cold, fresh meals. We threw together this taco salad a few weeks ago and loved it. I love that it doesn't have meat but is still hearty with all the different beans. And I loved how quick and easy it was to put together. You can either use beans you've previously cooked on the stove, or you can just open some canned beans. I did both: I had some pinto beans in the fridge I'd cooked earlier on in the week that I threw in and then I used a can of kidney beans and a can of black beans. Afterward I did my best to remember what I threw in a wrote down an approximate recipe. Here it is:

Taco Salad- by Elisa Smith

1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped

4 green onions, diced

1 can(or 1 c cooked) black beans

1 can(or 1 c cooked) kidney beans

1 can(or 1 c cooked)pinto beans

1 can corn

1/2 beef tomato, chopped

1/3 c Dorothy Lynch dressing mixed with 1 Tbsp water

tortilla chips

Combine ingredients and toss. Add tortilla chips individually to plates so they don't get soggy.


I know I've posted a couple of banana bread recipes recently, but I have to post one more. A bit of background: A good friend of mine has become known for her banana bread. Everyone loves it--including her husband and 6 kids-- and asks her to bring it to social gatherings. I got the recipe from her and changed it slightly to make it more my style(read, added some healthy variations). I was a little wary as I began reading the recipe because it seemed too simple. There were too few ingredients, I thought. But in this case, less must be more because it turned out fabulous and so moist! We all loved it and both loaves were gone by the following day(they would've been gone that evening had I not been monitoring). Here is the recipe, though I have my changes in here. If you don't want my changes, use white sugar for Sucanat and white flour instead of wheat flour. Also, I usually freeze my really ripe bananas in their skin and when I'm ready to make bread, I allow them to thaw and then I pour them in the recipe. This time I took three ripe bananas out of their peels, put them on a plate and mashed with with my potato masher. I think this helped with the moist texture of the bread:

Banana Bread- adapted from a recipe by Kim

1/2 c butter

1 c Sucanat

2 eggs

2 c wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

3 bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put in 2 greased loaf pans and bake for 30-40 minutes.


We stayed with my brother and sister-in-law one night this past month. I noticed a menu board she had in her kitchen. I really liked it and asked how complicated it was to make. It's not complicated. All you need is a frame, an easel and either fabric or a piece of scrapbook paper. I made one when we got home(I got both the frame and the easel from the dollar store!) and we've been using it since. I used a piece of silver, sparkly scrap book paper on mine.I like that the whole week is posted for all to view and I don't have to make any last minute decisions(that's always the hardest part about dinner for me: actually deciding). The kids all get to pick a night and the older ones enjoy writing it themselves on the menu board(Elisabeth helped me write the menu for the week on the board pictured below). I think we may do this for a Super Saturday project with our church in October.

For three weeks now we've done something called, "Bountiful Baskets". It's basically a food co-op of fresh produce. You go online and pay $15 for a basket of fruits and vegetables on Monday(you also pick your location at that time) and then on Saturday morning, you go to the location and pick up your basket of fruits and vegetables(you bring your own box to load it in, I just brought a Costco box). It is a co-op, volunteer based, so they ask that every 6 baskets or so, you come an hour before pick up time and help organize and distribute the produce, if you can. I love it. You get good, fresh produce for an excellent price. The basket is well worth at least double if you were buying it from a grocery store. In fact I read that the produce they provide for $15, you'd end up paying $50 for in a store. I took a picture of what we got this past week: 2 heads of romaine lettuce, celery, a 10oz box of cherry tomatoes, cantaloupe, 1 lb strawberries, 3 mangos, 1 bunch bananas, 6 plums, 6 peaches, 1 bag green beans, a cucumber and 6 sweet potatoes. Now the only produce I really need to buy during the week are more bananas and apples. My family goes through an insane amount of bananas in a week; on average about 6 bunches. I buy three bunches mid week and then three again on Saturday.

I don't usually buy mangos, but since we have them in our basket, I've been using them and Jane and I have fallen in love with mangos! They are so sweet, juicy and delicious! I've had a few when I was younger. I remember my dad buying and eating them on occasion, and I remember one time when we were visiting Mexico we bought some from someone selling them on the streets. They are amazing! When I figured out how to cut a Mango and get the most out of it with the least amount of work I thought I'd post a picture. I cut off the cheeks and then I cut the sides around the pit. Once that's done, I take the cheeks and cut them in rows(squares of rows) and then scoop the squares out with a spoon.