Chicken Salad Recipe
Some have asked for the chicken salad we served at the Relief Society Birthday Dinner. Go here for the full recipe.
We Interrupt This Work Project to Post

I've got my earplugs in as I'm typing this. The kids are outside playing, Miles is napping, so I'm working away. Just wanted to let you have a peek into my table project.


5.5 Months

Where has the time gone? My big newborn baby has now grown into a big five-and-half-month-old rolling, burbling, smiling thing. He seems to know his role as a third child: stay calm and carry on. Finn and Lucy provide for him a constant show of entertainment. He amazes me everyday with his desire to communicate in baby-ese and stretch his boundaries physically. His ample, creamy cheeks provide lots of kissing time. He came into this world a silent stranger and now I can't imagine life without him.


Pretty Enough To Eat
I couldn't help myself. I had to take a quick picture before I devoured my lunch (I was really hungry). I think I enjoy eating so much more when the things on the plate are pretty too. A little quirk about me: I like to eat the things I dislike the most first. That way, the whole eating experience ends on a climactic note. The order in which I ate this meal? Spinach (vegetables are my least favorite), kidney beans, quinoa and yams. I am a carb-lover at heart and a Southern belle too, so the yams hit the spot.
Now, if I can only pick out what to have for dinner....hmmm....any suggestions?


All This Energy
Question: How does a gal like me keep up with three active kids ages 3.5, 2 and 5 months?
Answer: She doesn't!
(Ask the people holding the doors for me on my way out of the gym today. They were waiting there for what seemed like hours so I could chase after Lucy, file her through the door and then shoo Finn out too, all the while holding Miles). Most days I look like a dilapidated circus train with too many clowns.
But the life I lead has it's rewards too. I have to constantly remind myself of the beauty and blessings around me. They are everywhere in abundance. I just have to open my eyes and take notice of them.
Like the sweet new mama who brought over a plate of what we call "Fat Man's Delight" last night just when I wanted something chocolatey and sweet.
Or the innocent prayers my kids utter.
And that there's a dinner at the church tonight so I don't have to cook dinner.
Or the bright orange color of the yams I boiled and skinned yesterday afternoon.
I could go on an on. I'm off to change a little munchkin's diaper and then get Lucy out of her crib from her afternoon nap. Because the show must go on...


Becoming a Standby

I've been making Ashley's Chicken Pot Pie alot lately. (I've taken it to a couple families who have just had babies. It's kind of a catch-all dish: vegetables, meat, comfort food all in one).

Here's the recipe if you'd like to make some comfort food for your family too.
Ashley's Chicken Pot Pie
2 cups flour
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup margarine
1 teaspoon salt
2-5 tablespoons cold water
Cut up cold margarine into slices and place with shortening in bowl. Sift in flour and salt. Mix together with hands or pastry blender until you can't see white flour anymore. Should have pea-sized clumps. Add water one tablespoon at a time each time mixing around with a fork. As soon as dough seems to stick together stop adding water. Form crust into two balls and let set in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. Make the filling in the meantime.
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons flour
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 cup or more chicken broth to thickness
1/4 to 1/2 cup whip cream or milk
2-3 chicken breasts cooked and cubed (I used canned chicken)
1 large carrot cut
3 celery stalks cut
1/2 onion cut
1 small package frozen peas
Cook the chicken according to package directions. Set aside and cool. Steam vegetables for 10 minutes. Add peas. Steam for another 3 minutes. Set aside. Melt butter on low heat in saucepan. Add flour and season with a little salt. Mix till smooth. Add 1 cup of chicken broth. Allow to cook until thick. Keep adding broth until sauce is to the desired thickness, then add cream. Combine with vegetables and cubed chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
Roll out bottom crust and place in dish. Add filling and then place rolled out top crust on top. Seal the edges together. Cut slits in the top of the pie. Cook for 45 minutes at 375 degrees F. If crust starts to brown too much place foil on top. You can also make ahead and place in freezer, or fridge if it's just going to be overnight.
Happy baking and eating!


Oh, Whitney, Where Art Thou?

You're probably celebrating right now with some good Indian take-out and a Baskin Robbins mint chocolate chip cake. And you should be enjoying yourself. You deserve it, sista. I'm happy to be your sister and that you're also one of my best friends. Who else could I call during the "witching hours" of the afternoon and get a sympathetic ear? You always have the right thing to say. And, you are generous. Thanks for the 44 pound box of clothes you sent for Miles and Lucy. (Finn ripped right into the "shoe bag" and found some red size 2T slippers that he promptly put on and asked if he could wear them to bed). Anyways, I hope your day was/is fun and that you know how much I adore and admire you.
Project Update
Travis and I both love this table my parents gave us several years ago. I grew up eating Sunday dinner at this table, making art projects and studying here. At it's most compact, it seats six, and then with the leaves will seat twelve. It is easy to add the leaves too and is very sturdy.

But I don't like the 80's country look of it. Is it too much to ask to maybe strip it and refinish it?

I saw this in March's Domino and thought I might be able to do that to this table. I think it would bring out the oak's graininess while maybe even making it look more rustic, contrasting nicely with the metal chairs.
What do you think?


Oh, My, Pizza Pies!

Pizza is one of my favorite foods. And I have made homemade pizza before, but I've never been able to achieve the crispy crust like the wood oven pizzas I love.

Then I stumbled upon a method in Bon Appetit from none other than the local Fahrenheit restaurant chef.
Basically, you make a standard yeast-leavened pizza dough. Then, you heat preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and put a rimmed cookie sheet upside down in the oven and let it heat for 45 minutes at 500.
Make your pizza rounds 8 to 9 inches in diameter, lay them on some cornmeal and put your favorite sauce and toppings on them.
When the 45 minutes are up and the cookie sheet is heated, transfer a pizza at a time onto the sheet and let it cook for 6-8 minutes, or until the cheese melts and browns in spots and the crust is golden brown.
Bottom and outer crusts were crunchy and crispy while the cheese and sauce were soft. Pizza perfection in my opinion, finally.


Skype is So In
My mind is- you guessed it- in a whirlwind today. So before I list the reasons why Skype has become the new cool thing in our house, let me just take some rambling liberties (it is my blog afterall) and list some things around this house that are in need of attention.
  • Clean all the glass surfaces in this house (including mirrors, especially including the mirrors in my bedroom and the oven)
  • Organize my part of the basement, which means get rid of old picture frames
  • Get all the toys out of my craft room
  • Set up crib in the office and make that Miles new sleeping quarters
  • Put away Christmas boxes in basement
  • Keep the computer desk clean (it is the dumping ground for stuff)
  • Go through Finn's school paperwork
  • Put display in living room glass cabinet
  • Start working on some crafty project
  • Clean off the clutter on my dresser
  • Stow Travis' guitar amp in the closet
  • Laundry, laundry, laundry

(There's lots more, but those are the main ones I can think of right now)

So, back to Skype. My Dad sent us a computer camera recently and we've been in camera commotion ever since. This morning Finn sung to Ruby (in Washington) while she finished off her breakfast. And, last night, apparently, Ivy and Finn got into a conversation, which I was not a part of because I was upstairs giving Lucy a bath.

Seeing yourself in camera view takes lots of mental "I'm okay" talking though. You see yourself in this grainy, distorted angle and you feel the need to do some serious primping (at least I do). In a Skype video conversation with my Mom and Erin this morning, we talked alot about hair. The computer camera will do that to you.


The Power of Leftovers
What I love about lunchtime is (I've said it before) leftovers. This is what I pulled out of my fridge today. The only thing I had to actually prepare was the spinach, which sautees in about 2 minutes flat. And the avocado tasted so fresh today.


Let the Good Times Roll

Family picture time...can you guess what's wrong with this picture? (No, it's not the smirky looks on our kids' faces).

Grandma Racecar and the grandkids. We've been having alot of fun together this weekend.

And for those familiar with Lucy's spunky manner, this face is classic Lil' Luce. Eyes on the terrain ahead. Responding to the attention. Eyebrows lifted and a slight element of surprise.
Travis has Spring Break this week, so we've got some projects to do, first and foremost cleaning out the basement (the perpetual project).
And, yes, the sun is shining today, which made raking the leaves in the backyard much more enjoyable!


Some Have Asked...
...how to grow wheat grass. I thought I'd share here. It's really very easy.
Start with some potting soil/dirt in any container. Moisten it with some water. On top of that, put a thin layer of wheat berries (the kind you use in a wheat grinder to make bread), so that they're touching, but not overlapping. (I got my wheat in the bulk section at Whole Foods, but you can order it from LDS Distribution or just borrow from someone who has some in their food storage).
Place the container in a window and make sure to water if it gets lots of sun. I grew mine in a window with indirect light and it grew just fine. When the seeds begin to sprout and touch the plastic wrap, take it off and continue to water when the soil gets dry to the touch. Don't overwater. You should have nice, spring-green grass blades in 5 to 7 days.


I have alot of puzzling questions on my mind lately, so I decided to open them up on my blog and see what you readers had to say about them.
1 Is it me or are afternoons especially difficult for taking care of kids?
2 When do I find time for myself when I'm not too tired to do anything?
3 How do I keep my kids from fighting?
4 Is being a parent more for me or for my kids?
5 What can I do with my kids in the afternoons so we're not all going crazy?
6 When is Spring coming?
7 Do organic bananas really taste better?
8 Where is THE place to get a cute swimsuit?
9 What do you eat in the afternoon to quell a sweet tooth?
10 Minivan or SUV? (Just curious...we already have a minivan).
Thanks in advance for your answers. Have a happy Wednesday.


Making Me Happy Today
  1. This cute cardboard tote that came full of brownies from this clever gal.
  2. Cutting into an avocado for lunch that was at the perfect ripeness.
  3. Finding a nice-fitting workout top from none other than Wal-Mart.
  4. Halfway done with yesterday's laundry: now I just have to fold the mountain of clean clothes.
  5. Two kids napping simultaneously right now.
  6. Aldi's Moser-Roth premium dark chocolate.
  7. Falafels for dinner tonight.
  8. A hot shower awaiting me right now.

What's making you happy today?


Back to a Classic
As a teenager, I was introduced to this Sweet and Sour Chicken by my best friend Ashley. Her mom made this and eventually taught us how so that we made it all the time. We would take turns breading the chicken and turning the chicken (I usually breaded). It became our signature dish and we made it all the time.
If you'd like the recipe to razzle-dazzle your friends and family, here it is:
Chinese Chicken
4 chicken breasts and salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1 1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup water
4 Tablespoons corn starch
4 Tablespoons rice vinegar
6 Tablespoons ketchup
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 tomato, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1-2 kiwi fruit, diced
1-15 ounce can pineapple tidbits
sesame seeds
Bone chicken and cut into 1/2 inch slices or cubes. Rub salt into chicken pieces. Heat oil to 375 or 400. Dip chicken pieces into batter and deep fry until brown. Drain them on paper towels and put in the oven to keep warm while cooking the rest. Bring sauce to full boil, stirring constantly. Keep warm. Put over chicken. Combine tomato, green pepper, pineapple and sprinkle over sauce. Toss on a few sesame seeds and garnish the edges with sliced kiwi fruit.


How She Went DownLast night was our Relief Society Birthday dinner and above is the invitation for it. I was inspired by this for the invitation.

As I'm typing this, I'm polishing off the cupcake I saved and man, is it good. I got the idea for them here and this gal did a phenomenal job making her signature chocolate cupcake with buttercream frosting.

We wanted to keep the serving to a minimum and actually we didn't have to lift a finger once the evening started. Everything was on the table: the chicken salad sandwiches, chocolate dipped strawberries, cupcakes and veggie trays with dip.

I loved how the vegetable trays turned out too (thanks to this talented gal).

If I could just have one of those cupcakes ready to eat whenever I felt like eating one!
Overall, it was pretty inexpensive to pull off (the perfect recession kind of event). The wheat grass cost next to nothing to make, and the balloons were a Wal-Mart special. We just had to rent a helium tank to fill them, but if I do this again, I would just buy the balloons already blown up by the dozen at the party store (I think it would've been cheaper, plus alot less work).
This was alot of fun to execute. Now I've got to keep a mental storage of ideas for next year's party.


Couldn't Help Myself

See how they went from these...

...to these...

...to these?
Miles Betrothed
Could this be an extremely early engagement photo? (Little Lucy H. is only one month older than he is. Aren't they a cute match?)

But I know who Miles number one love will always be.

Here's the little space monkey in his new favorite spot.

And the wheat grass is two days away from making its debut as a centerpiece.
I'm off to finish my dinner preparations. Tonight's menu: homemade Andelin tortillas, beans and rice, sauteed zucchini and red pepper and Special K bars for dessert (I've already sampled those, just to be sure they taste good).
I also am in the midst of cooking batch after batch of chicken, for the chicken salad sandwiches we're serving at tomorrow's dinner. (Don't worry, I put barrettes in my hair to act like a hair net!)


Bringing Out Blue

The baby boy shower last week turned out well. Several of the guests brought even more delicious food, so we ate. And ate. And ate. (At least I did).

The spinach dip recipe came from the back of the Knorr vegetable soup packet. Easy peasy.

For the record, I'm usually opposed to adding this much food coloring to anything (the purist in me), but I wanted everything to go together.

I saw some guests with blue-tinted teeth after eating those cupcakes!

We played a game involving random trivia about pregnancy.
Did you know the average age of first-time moms in the U.S. in 2008 was 25.2? Did you know it was 21 in 1970? Interesting.


Date Night Apple Pie

Saturday night Travis took me out to The Flying Fig for our quarterly (or maybe even, sadly, semi-annual date). Heaven on a plate (or several plates in this case). I took this picture for my Mom who requested a photo of me in my red lipstick.

Then I made Travis his all-time favorite dessert: apple pie.

His Mom makes the best apple pie, but because I am a cake lover at heart, I can only attempt to make her recipe. He likes the crust nice and thick and the apples cooked really well, so I 1.5'ed the recipe for the crust and used 5 apples for the filling. (I used Granny Smith's and according to him, she uses Golden Delicious).

Date night with pie a la mode. What could be better? (Okay, so in my book chocolate cake with date night would be supreme, but this wasn't half bad either!)
And don't forget to go here for a stepping-into-Spring giveaway!