Sunday, December 09, 2012

A Look at Last Week - Crafty Goodness

This past week was full of great times and good adventures. Some days life seems hard or frustrating and other times I look around and think how did I get such a great life! This weeks photo roundup contains a lot of crafty goodness and good times with good people. Enjoy!

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I love finding random things like this.

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Little man is SO cute in his PJ's and little vest.

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Hit up the Holiday Market at the Gallivan Plaza on lunch. Fun!

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I'm going Crochet Coffee Cozy crazy! Go green!

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I went to the ESLC open house and it was great. They are an amazing organization!

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ESLC Vision Statements and photos. If you're looking for a great long term volunteer opportunity this is it!

Are you doing anything fun with friends or crafty for the holidays?

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Saturday's Supper - Jam Thumbprints

Today's recipe is not something I made this week but I think I may have to make this one day soon. It's a super yummy cookie recipe which I thought would be perfect for anyone participating in a cookie exchange. MMM!!!

Jam Thumbprints
by The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

Any flavor or jam can be used for this recipe, we found seedless jams work best. For best results, bake only one sheet of cookies at a time.

1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
3 ounces (6 Tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Fill a small zipper-lock bag with the jam. Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together in a medium bowl.

2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the cream cheese, egg, and vanilla until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.

3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds.

4. Working with 1 1/2 teaspoons of dough at a time, roll the dough into balls and lay them on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart. Following the photos on page 165, make an indentation in the center of each cookie with your thumb.


5. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until they are just beginning to set and are lightly browned around the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and, working quickly, gently reshape the indentation with the bottom of a teaspoon measure. Snip a small corner off the bag of jam and carefully fill each indentation with about 1/2 teaspoon of the jam. Rotate the baking sheet and continue to bake until lightly golden, 12 to 14 minutes.

6. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely, about 30 minutes, before serving.

Modifications
* The only thing my Mom and I found was when you put the cookies back in at the end of step 5 we only had to cook them for about 5 minutes. Could be our ovens but I'd check them at about 5 minutes and see if you need to bake them longer. That resulted in a nice soft cookie that was oh so good!

Do you participate in a holiday cookie exchange or other occasion to bake quantities of cookies? Do you indulge in all the baked goodies through the holidays or do you stick to your diet/exercise plan?

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

UWSL Holiday Social 2012

I wanted to share a couple pics from last weeks Holiday Social. My work put together a fun event for our donors and partner organizations to come out and celebrate all the hard work we've been accomplishing together. There was great food and drinks and it was fun to see a lot of people I've been getting to know since I started in May.


As part of the Holiday Social we collected warm winter gear for the kids at the PAL Boxing Center. The kids there are ages 8-17 and they are able to participate in afterschool programing that includes homework help, recreation activities and boxing. The kids have to complete the homework hour before they have fun playing games or boxing which is great so they can keep their grades up at school. They also are served a hot meal through the Utah Food Bank's Kids Cafe program. Volunteers are always needed to support the kids homework hour as well as through the fun and games. The program here is amazing and if you want to get involved just let me know and I'll connect you. The folks that work at PAL are wonderful and you're sure to have a great experience!

Our first happy donations!

I was so glad to see that so many people brought donations for the kids. We filled three large tubs with donations as well as an extra box and a few bags. It will be awesome to see the kids faces when they receive these warm winter items.

This was only partway through the evening. We collected even more after this!

Thanks to all the donors and partners we work with that help make this possible. I love that I get to be part of such an amazing organization.


Do you donate money or time during the year? Have you ever thought about volunteering to help make a difference in the lives of kids in your neighborhood or neighborhoods that need your help? There are so many ways to get involved! Start by visiting uw.org/211 or by calling 2-1-1.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Book of Lists - December Wishlist

For those of you playing along with Kapachino's Book of Lists I wanted to share my first list for December. The theme was "wishlist". No more, no less. Interpret it as you will. I interpreted it to be more of a goal list because why wish for something if you don't plan to do anything about it.

In case you didn't read my last post about the Book of Lists the idea originated over at Kathleen's blog Kapachino. Here's what you've got to do:

Every month there will be a topic for a list, and the object is to craft it on a blank page, take a photo of your list, then blog it. You can get elaborate scrapbook-style, or even jot it down with your favorite pen. If you want, you don’t even have to make a book and you can just blog about the list topic (even though then it’s not really a book of lists, but that’s cool).
So without further adieu here is my first list:



As I mentioned, my list is all about goals for 2013. It's my Thirteen Goals for 2013! WOO! In case you can't really read it from the picture here are my goals.
  1. Go to Hawaii for family vacation (Planned for May.)
  2. Volunteer once a month (I'm hoping at least once a month all year long!)
  3. Take a crafting class (Girls night out anyone?)
  4. Run a 5k (I'll work up to this.)
  5. Go snowshoeing (This may happen towards the end of 2013.)
  6. Make my own sushi (Time to get my Mom to teach me how to make her yummy sushi!)
  7. Work out once a week for a month (Hey it's a start!)
  8. Work out twice a week for a month (I'll work up to this...)
  9. Work out three times a week for a month (I hope once I reach this level I can keep it up.)
  10. Take a cooking class (I just bought a Groupon so I need to schedule a class.)
  11. Redesign my blog with my own branding (I've started tackling a few little things.)
  12. Discover my own clothing style (I just want to figure out what I can wear to look my best.)
  13. Weigh under 130 (I'm hoping all the healthy eating and working out will get me here!)
Some of the goals are pretty easy but some will require a serious effort on my part which is ok. I'm hoping through this next year I can build up to having a regular exercise routine which will supplement my better eating habits I've been developing.

All of the goals for this year come from my Life List. I want to make sure my yearly goals are in line with my lifetime goals. If you've participated in the Book of Lists be sure to leave a link to your post so I can see what you're up to and how you interpreted the prompt. I'm looking forward to our next list and can't wait to see what everyone else did.

Do you like to write lists or do you have another way you keep organized? Have you already set some goals for 2013 or will you do that after the new year?

Sunday, December 02, 2012

A Look at Last Week - Keep Calm and Drink Coffee

So here's the roundup of some random pics from last week. I hope you enjoy them!

I want this paperweight!

Russell attacks Daddy!

Argh me pirate Panda!

Sleepy Oreo!

Who's my sippy chugging man? He was so thirsty!
Oreo looks enormous!!!

Checking out the lights at Temple Square.

Leaving Temple Square. That place was PACKED!!!

Do you enjoy taking photos throughout the day or do you prefer to be more deliberate in capturing your memories?

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Saturday's Supper - Orzo with Garlic-Ginger Vegetables

For those of you, like me, who indulged in all the lovely food that was available for Thanksgiving this is a great recipe to help soothe angry bellies back into submission. It's also a great and light dish to help you get back on track with any weight loss goals you may have, if you're working on that. It's light, it's healthy and you can definitely tailor it to your families liking. Even little Russell loved this recipe so I'm sure this will become a regular in our house. Enjoy!

I added some leftover brussels sprouts! YUM!
Orzo with Garlic-Ginger Vegetables
Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced peeled gingerroot
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups sliced baby carrots
2 cups sliced baby zucchini
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules, dissolved in 3/4 cup boiling water
2 1/2 cups cooked orzo
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste

1. In a wok or large skillet over low heat, heat the oil. Saute the gingerroot and garlic until deep brown, 4-5 minutes; keep the heat low so they don't burn.

2. Increase the heat to high; add the carrots. Stir-fry, adding the zucchini, bell peppers and disolved bouillon, until the vegetables are tender-crisp, about 3 minutes.

3. Add the orzo and pepper; toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Modifications
* I used regular carrots and zucchini and just diced everything really small so Russell could eat this too.
* I par-cooked the carrots in my steamer in the microwave so they would be easy for Russell to eat. They were tender-crisp and nothing else over cooked doing this.
* I didn't have gingerroot at the time so I just tossed in some powdered ginger when I was cooking the garlic.
* I just used really hot water from the sink to dissolve the bouillon and it worked fine.
* We used one red and one green bell pepper. Actually we only used half of each and it turned out great.
* I added a few fresh mushrooms diced small along with some leftover corn we had too. Oh and I tossed in some shredded leftover turkey we had from Thanksgiving. You could easily add your favorite protein to this recipe.
* I'm pretty sure I added some extra herbs to this too. I typically like to add things like marjoram, thyme or Italian seasonings because I enjoy the extra flavor.
* If you don't have orzo any other small pasta or rice would probably work just as well. In a pinch you could break up some fettuccine noodles into small pieces, cook and use in this recipe and that would work too.
* You could easily modify this recipe to use any of your favorite fresh/frozen veggies you have on hand. This recipe is so versatile and easy!

Do you have any favorite post-Thanksgiving recipes you enjoy? Do you have any favorite ways to use up leftovers? If you do share your ideas. I love new ways to use leftovers. :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book of Lists

Sometimes I like to be really creative and come up with my own ideas but a lot of times it's just easier to jump on the bandwagon with another persons creativity. BA HA HA! So today's nugget of goodness comes through Her Sunday and it's called Book of Lists. For those of you who love making lists read on. If the thought of writing out a list sends shivers down your spine skip on and come back for my next post.

The idea originated over at Kathleen's blog Kapachino. Here's what you've got to do:
Every month there will be a topic for a list, and the object is to craft it on a blank page, take a photo of your list, then blog it. You can get elaborate scrapbook-style, or even jot it down with your favorite pen. If you want, you don’t even have to make a book and you can just blog about the list topic (even though then it’s not really a book of lists, but that’s cool).

I am super crafty but I also know my limitations with time so I'm taking the basic idea around this and doing what I can. Since right now the idea is just to show the cover of your book here's mine:



If you're a regular reader or follow me on Instagram then you've seen this pic before. I'm going to use the journal on the left as my list journal. It's perfect because it's got a lot of great space as well as some basic prompts that I can fill with other goodness. I would love to embrace the idea fully and paper craft each month's prompt but I know that just won't happen. So if you're looking for other ideas check out what Her Sunday is up to as well as Kapachino. Kathleen has links to 4 others who are doing this and you can see that everyone is so different so anyone can play.

I know it's late in the game but if you're interested get in on this action and be ready to post your first month's list on December 3rd:

Next month’s info: We’ll be posting on Monday, December 3 and the topic will be wishlist. Starting with a fun and easy one. :)

So, all you've got to do is post your cover now and come back on or around the 3rd and post your wishlist. As you can see this is very flexible and easy to do plus it's only once a month. Your list could be two things, twenty things or two hundred things just depending on what suits your fancy and your time. Be brave, be bold and have fun! If you're going to play leave me a link to your cover page so I can follow what you're doing. I'm excited to see everyone's wishlist next month!

Are you a list maker? Do you love to have everything organized in a nice and neat fashion? What's your top secret to staying organized and getting everything done?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Giving Tuesday

It's like Black Friday only better! Well, at least for the soul that is. Fear not! There will be no trampling, pepper spraying, fighting or anger on Giving Tuesday. Here's the idea:
On Tuesday November 27, 2012 charities, families, businesses and individuals are coming together to transform the way people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season. It’s a simple idea. Find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to join in acts of giving. Tell everyone you can about what you are doing and why it matters. Join a national celebration of our great tradition of generosity.

I love this idea because it seems like everyone is super thankful for all this stuff and then they go out and bust out some serious hostility and craziness just to buy the latest gadgets and toys. (Remind me again what you're truly thankful for? HA HA HA!) Anyway, I love the concept of taking a day to look at you and your families situation and deciding how you can turn the holidays back to the true meaning of the season. Whether you believe the meaning is religious or just about giving and being grateful that's up to you but in doing good things for others you can help make the world a better place.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ~ Margarette Mead
It's so true! No matter what you do no gesture is futile. Give a dollar, give a toy or give your time. Advocate for your favorite cause. Participate in a random act of kindness or pay it forward. Whatever you do, you can make a difference this holiday season!

If you want to participate feel free to comment here or share what you're up to on your favorite social network using the hashtag #GivingTuesday. It's not bragging, it's spreading inspiration to help others see how easy it is to do simple things to help make life better for others. Feel free to also use the hashtag #LIVEUNITED and show how you're living united to make our community a great place to live and work. 

If you need something simple to do join me and the United Way of Salt Lake Young Leaders in supporting Guadalupe School and PAL Boxing Center this holiday season. You can get all the details on how you can donate a toy or donate cash to support our efforts HERE

Join us on Giving Tuesday and let's make a difference for those around us!

How do you share love during the holiday season? Do you have any family traditions around giving back through monetary donations, giving toys or volunteering?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Look at Last Week - So Much to be Thankful For

Whenever I feel that life is hard or that I wish I had something more it never fails that life sends me a gentle reminder that I have it pretty good over here. I recently saw some friends lose loved ones which just reminds us how fragile life is and that we should constantly work to live in the moment and love those around us as much as we can because we never know when that moment will be the last. I think we always hope we have decades left with our loved ones but if we're real with ourselves we should see that's not always the case. So this week I wanted to recap a few more things I've been thankful for this week. There are so many blessed and beautiful things in my life and I hope to never forget that.

Beautiful handmade jewelry by Marskii's! Buy local whenever you can folks!

Panda's a little snuggle muffin AND I love my job! LIVE UNITED!

I love spending time with my little man and he loves spending time with us.

I'm so happy Russell is healthy and strong. He's come so far!

I'm happy to spend time with family and enjoy another Thanksgiving full of yummy food.

I'm happy for cute moments with my little moose man!

There is nothing like the sense of wonder a child has when they discover something new.

Yep, proving again how much of a cuddle muffin Panda is. Love these guys!


If you celebrate it, did you have a great Thanksgiving? How do you live in the moment and enjoy the little things in life? What matters most to you during the holiday season?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday's Supper - Pumpkin Cheesecake

In case you haven't had enough of holiday type foods today's recipe is lighter and totally different from your typical cheesecake. It's lighter and almost more of a custard-type consistency (though not quite that smooth) and it's not that rich cheesecake flavor because it doesn't have cream cheese in it. That being said if you are open to trying something new and different I think you'll like it. The first few bites for me were deciding if I liked this or not but once I realized it wasn't going to be a typical cheesecake I decided I loved it! Plus it's super healthy compared to a typical cheesecake since it's only 6 points (serves 6) on Weight Watchers. BOOM!

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook

9 graham crackers (2 1/2" squares), made into crumbs
1 cup low-fat (1%) cottage cheese
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
3/4 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
One 15-ounce canned pumpkin puree

1. Preheat the oven to 350; spray a 9" glass pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs over the bottom of the pie plate.

2. In a food processor or blender, combine the cottage cheese and ricotta; process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl; stir in the egg substitute, sugar, ginger, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Reserve 1/4 cup of the batter. Add the pumpkin to the batter; stir until blended. Scrape the batter into the pie plate, then drizzle the reserved batter in 3 concentric circles over the pumpkin batter. With a knife, lightly draw a line through the batter from the center toward the outer edge; about 2" from that line, lightly draw the knife through the batter from the outer edge toward the center. Repeat around the pie, alternating directions, to make a spiderweb.

3. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Cool completely on rack. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

No modifications this time. Joe baked this and he usually follows the directions. I did cut our pie into 8ths instead of 6ths to save a few points and spread the pie love for another day. You could serve this with your favorite whipped topping or maybe some ice cream if you're not watching your intake.

Try a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg on top of your whipped topping for some extra flavor!

Do you have a favorite holiday dish you'd like to lighten up or do you consider the holidays a time to indulge?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Thursday - Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates it! I hope you have a wonderful day filled with delightful goodness all around! In our family the traditions vary but they pretty much all equal getting together and eating lots of tasty food.

Thanksgiving 2007 HOLLA! Our first Thanksgiving together!
 When we lived in Vegas we'd gather for lunch at my in-laws because they all typically had to work that night. (Yep, casino workers and nurses don't get days off because of holidays.) We'd enjoy turkey, corn, green beans, rolls and mashed potatoes and gravy. The tradition typically included having a snack platter with olives, veggies and those tiny pickles that everyone in his family loves. Those typically were gone before dinner hit the table. HA HA HA! Oh and of course FOOTBALL! Joe's family is from Wisconsin so they are die hard Packer Fans. Since I have no team of my own, I am a fan by association. HA!

Football time! I actually had a broken wrist in this picture. HA!

I think this year will be our first Thanksgiving with my family. My Mom will cook a delish spread of yummy goodness and we're bringing a sweet potato dish. My Mom usually will have the parade on in the morning while she cooks and then everyone eats around lunchtime. Of course after the massive feast it's all about snacking on leftovers throughout the rest of the day. I always love everything my Mom makes because it's so good. I'm excited to share Thanksgiving here in Utah this year.

In the spirit of giving thanks I'd like to share a few of the things I'm thankful for.

I am so grateful for a job that I LOVE, amazing co-workers who I respect and the ability to afford my families lifestyle because of the work I do. I love that the work I do also helps others. What more could I ask for?

I am always thankful for time with my sweet Russell man. He's a handful sometimes for sure but he's a good kid and I love him oh so very much.

I'm thankful for fun times like snow days full of frozen yogurt. Nothing like a hubby who's willing to have some fun in life.

I'm grateful for sweet moments together. Little Russell's hand on his Daddy. They're so handsome!

I'm grateful for the ability to be creative and crafty. I love that Joe supports my hobbies and encourages my creativity.

I'm so thankful that Russell is healthy and happy. His rough start was scary but makes me appreciate all he is even more. He's a blessing to our home and our families. Everyone adores this sweet little guy.

This was at our Veteran's Day lunch. I'm so grateful for my husbands service and all the others out there past and present who are serving our country, defending our liberties and putting their life on the line to protect our freedoms. I am especially thankful for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and given their lives for us. To the military families too you have my ultimate respect while you worry for your loved ones and raise children at home alone.

I am grateful for great friends who are a positive influence on my life.

What are you thankful for this year? Do you have any fun Thanksgiving traditions you participate in? How did your traditions change once you got married or had to blend multiple families traditions?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Adventures in Food - So. Jo. Yo!

Holla at my hommies who live on this end of the world. Yeah that's right. For some people who live downtown South Jordan is the other end of the world but I love it. It's close to the family and it's been good to us so far. Anywho... My picks for food this week are both in South Jordan and both right across the street from each other. YES! Nothing like quick and easy.

Russell checking stuff out. The place was empty when we got there as you can see. It's a cute place just really small.

My first pick for a fabulous food adventure is Saffron Valley. You can read my Yelp review HERE. I love Indian/Himalayan food and this place will not disappoint. They have a lunch buffet that is available every day from 11-3 so if you've never tried Indian food I suggest you give that a try first to see what you like and don't like. Some of the food had a little spicy kick and others were very mild. They have a variety of vegetarian and meat dishes along with some tasty sauces you can try.

Some of my amazing coworkers at our cooking class with Lavanya. Such a blast and great food!

As mentioned in my review you can check out their cooking classes in case you want to learn to make some of these delightful foods at home. I'm definitely thinking this would make for a fun girls night out! Lavanya also shares many of her fabulous recipes online too in case you can't get out for a cooking class. You can even buy spices from her website too and there's a little Indian market a couple doors down from her restaurant.

A sampling of the foods they had on the buffet. Russell liked the lentils and rice as well as the bread stuff.

Now if you still have room for some dessert after your Indian meal head across the street to Schmidt's Pastry Cottage. They do serve a deli style menu of soups, salads and sandwiches but we stopped there to check out their desserts. Yep, got my Yelp review online HERE. Lots of delightful goodies to pick from and the person we worked with was very friendly and super helpful. She knew her stuff and even gave us a price list of their bakery items and lunch menu so we could come back. Overall I'd give it a whirl again when I'm having a serious sweet tooth.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie. YUM!

Mint Cookie from http://www.schmidtspastry.net/. We got one of these but we ate it before I took a pic of it. Oops!
Do you have any favorite places that are close to home? If you live on the south end of the Salt Lake Valley I'd love to hear where you love to eat so I can try more fun and fabulous places.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Look at Last Week - Random Goodness

So I had some fun pics to share and they're rather random when combined so I'm sharing them here.

RAWR!!! Little Russell doesn't know Minx is staring him down.

Guess who got a new tubby? Russel liked it in the living room too!

I might have to do a Saturday's Supper on this meatloaf! It was healthy and tasty. YUM!!!

Photo a Day for 'What's in Your Bag'. This is Russell's diaper bag which actually has a TON more stuff.

I love my little man and his daddy. They are so cute with their hats on.

And in case no one has stared into your soul today, let Oreo oblige and give you a good stare down. HA!


What's happened in your world in the past week? Are you planning anything fun for this week for Thanksgiving?