Monday, February 28, 2011

A weekend worth remembering by Nicole

What a wonderful weekend we had! Last week, at this time, we had a birthday party to go to planned for the weekend. But boy howdy did our plans change as the week progressed.

I got a phone call from my Aunt Carol Lea saying that her and my cousin Jenna would be in the Tri-cities for a soccer tournament over the weekend. We made plans to come and have breakfast with them and watch a soccer game. Meanwhile my cousin Michelle (who is Aunt Carols daughter and Jenna's sister) and I were scheming for her to come stay with us for the weekend (from college in Salem) and surprise her mom and sister. Long story short, everything worked out GREAT! We had loads of fun hosting Michelle, the surprise was wonderful and I got to spend a lovely day with my cousin and Aunt, thanks to Trent, super dad.

It's times like this when I am so thankful to have a caring and capable husband. Trent didn't bat an eye about taking on the parenting duties for the day. He drove Ila to and from the Tri-cities, took her to the birthday party, handled the bloody lip & nose she got at the party, fed her, changed her, and put her to bed. He said they had a lot of fun too, which is no surprise. All the time Trent and Ila were together I was freezing at soccer games, but having a GREAT time with family.

The next morning, Michelle and I went back to town for one more soccer game while Super-dad and Ila hung out. When we got back, and Michelle went on her merry way back to college I cuddled and played with Ila....ALL DAY! She would hardly leave my side for the remainder of the day. She missed me so much and I missed her!

I can't forget to tell you about the stellar cobbler Michelle and I made. It was a peach, raspberry, blackberry cobbler and it is amazing. We also ate at a restaurant called "cousins" and we meant to get a picture by the sign, but we didn't. I guess we were distracted by the freezing wind or something, and didn't want to spend that much more time outside!

So there you have it! It was a superb weekend, other then Ila's injury, which she is healing up from nicely!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Our tiny dancer

Ila LOVES dancing! She dances all the time. She likes when Trent and I dance with her. In the video she is wearing a tutu, in her favorite colors, that her Aunt Bonnie made her. She likes to wear the tutu on her head like a crown as well. She also likes it when Trent and I wear it on our heads!

Monday, February 21, 2011

as they say, "truth will out!" by nicole

Since this is "my" (i use quotations, because it's really Trent's and my blog) I feel I should be honest with my readers. I was about to get on here and mention that I was pretty sad by the lack of interest in my Recipe Challenge, to find that one of my readers had finally let me know how theirs went. I sure appreciate the feedback! I didn't expect 100 people to take on my challenge, but I was hoping more then 2 of my sister-in-laws would take it on! But really, all of my sister-in-laws didn't need the recipe challenge, as they all are like me in the kitchen, and like to shake it up. Now that I've been honest with you about my feelings, I'd like to move on and discuss something that has been on my heart the last week: HONESTY.

I'm going to go ahead and say that I think Trent and I are very honest people. Not just in the "we don't lie" kind of way, but in the "we share our lives, feelings, thoughts and faith with each other and others" kind of way. I am NOT saying we do this perfectly (because we don't), and sometimes we totally fail in honesty, but we give it our all! This is not always easy, but it is genuine, and it is done out of love. I'll also go ahead and say that honesty and love are very intricately woven together, and that being honest is an act of love, and being dishonest is an act of evil. That may sound harsh, but it's pretty clear in the Bible.

In the book of John, Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees about freedom in truth. You could also say that Jesus is speaking to them about the Freedom (being saved) there is in the Truth (Jesus). He goes on to speak about the opposite of truth, lies. He says "He (Satan) does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies." Notice that Jesus says "the father of lies." not "the father of lies about who I, JESUS am." Satan is not the father of lies about faith only, but about lying, period. It is also said in the book of Revelation that "no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it ("it" being the Kingdom of Christ)."

As for love and honesty being intricately woven together, check out Corinthians where it says that "love...rejoices with the truth."

So, with that scripture in mind, and my head full of thoughts I'll move on. The question I feel we must all ask ourselves is "what IS honesty?" This is what I think we generally assume honesty is:

-not lying
-not cheating
-not stealing

But what about these:
-telling the whole truth
-being genuine
-telling yourself the truth
-not sneaking
-not hiding your feelings/emotions
-seeing things for what they really are
-being straightforward (not in a rude kind of way, of course)

Now, let me say that I do not think it is necessary to go sharing every detail about your life to everyone you know in order to be an honest person. I WILL say, that I think it is of the UPMOST importance to be honest with YOURSELF and your spouse. I'm talking about putting into practice all the things mentioned above, not just some of them. And let us all pause to think about this:
If you are not honest with yourself, how can you possibly be honest with others?

Now, about children. I think it is quite possible to follow all of the above with your children as well. Of course, this does not mean sharing every intimate detail with them, and letting every moment of all of your emotions and feelings show. That would be silly, and totally inappropriate. But depending on age, maturity and who your kids are as individuals and what you know about them, it is totally possible to walk in complete honesty with them.

But what about others? Other family members and friends? Well, I don't think it's all too difficult. If there are people that you share your life with on a regular basis, you should be honest with them on a regular basis. Once again, that is not sharing every intimate detail of your life with them on a regular basis, but putting to use the above mentioned honesty traits with what you do share on a regular basis.

Personally, I find the area I struggle with most, in terms of honesty, is in communicating my hurt feelings to others. I've gotten much better at it with Trent, but I find myself stewing about things, rather then talking to the person that lit the fire under the pot of stew. It's hard to communicate hurt feelings to others, because it means being vulnerable, forgiving and perhaps self learning (and changing) that may be difficult to accept. What I mean by this is that sometimes we find ourselves hurt by what people say because what they say is true, and we don't like whatever this truth may be. I find this happens a lot in marriages. Who can call me out on something quicker then my spouse, who lives with me and sees me live my life?!

So that's something that had been on my heart lately and I hope you find it encouraging and applicable to your own lives. And let me know how your culinary experiments are going too!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Recipe Challenge by Nicole

I've got a thing with cookbooks. I LOVE THEM! I think
I would really love to take some culinary classes. I recently watched Julie & Julia and I really liked it. I love the idea of cooking my
way through and entire cookbook.

Yesterday, on our fun day in town, I got 2 new cookbooks. A Mediterranean (mmmmmm, so good) cookbook and a vegetarian cook book. Trent and I are both pretty excited about trying out some recipes in them. I'm especially excited about making my own pita bread! When we lived in Twin Falls I would check out cookbooks from the library, which was awesome. I would check out around 9 at a time and maybe cook 1 recipe out of 3 of them, which was not so awesome. Where we live now does not make library book checking out super easy, but we'll probably do
it, once Ila is reading.

I try to make 1 new meal every week. I do this for several reasons.

1. I get discouraged about making the same things over and over again, and then I begin to dislike spending time in the kitchen and that usually leads to a rough couple of days (or a week) where I end doing the bare minimum to fill our bellies, and those are not very healthy meals I make in a hurry, and then I feel even worse about the situation.

2. Cooking the same meals is BORING. If you are tired of a meal, it's likely that someone else at the table is too.

3. I love a good kitchen challenge!

4. We both love "international" food, and there is so much we still want to try & explore.

5. I like to shop for foods I don't normally buy. The Asian food market is my friend, as well as co-op type places.

There is something to be said about repeat meals though. That is why I usually make just the 1 (sometimes 2, but the second one is almost always a crockpot meal, and I don't feel like that REALLY counts) new meal.

The Challenge:
So, I thought it would be fun to challenge you all to make something new! Try a different cuisine (if you make American, Italian or Mexican usually, try a Thai recipe, Basque or Indian...etc.) then usual.
And, don't make it a crockpot recipe. Get your hands and kitchen dirty!!!

I would really LOVE to hear what you made and how it went, so please leave a comme
nt or send me an email or facebook or text, or give me a call and tell me how the challenge went!

A note to my challenge takers:
I would hate for you to not take me up on the challenge because you don't know where to get a new recipe, so try one of these websites if you are having a hard time:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The best mashed potatoes EVER, for REAL! by Nicole

Now, I realize that making mashed potatoes is not a difficult thing to do. It takes a relatively short amount of time, and who doesn't love mashed potatoes??? Unfortunately, I HATE making them! I don't like the mess. It seems like the pot is always boiling over, and that crap sucks to clean up. Then you have to drain the potatoes, which is also not fun when you don't have a large colander, and generally leaves a big mess as well. Then there is the mashing part, which is fine if Trent is around, because he can mash the heck out of potatoes, but I don't really like doing it.

As the wife of a potato farmer, you can see that this could be a problem. Especially when we have 15 pounds of potatoes we REALLY need to use up ASAP because they have seen better days.

Well folks, I've found THE way to make mashed potatoes. CROCK POT. It is amazing how easy, clean and WONDERFULLY DELICIOUS mashed potatoes are when you make them in the crock pot. Yes, it does take around 3 hours, but as most of you know, 3 hours of crock pot cooking means just getting the food in the crock pot and leaving it to do its thing. And don't even get me started on the clean up. It's going to be so sweet compared to stove top mashed potato clean up! I'm going to tackle the 15 pounds of potatoes sometime this week and freeze them.

I'll tell you what I did, and then you can know how to enjoy the world's greatest mashed potatoes as well.

2 pounds of potatoes (i used 5 medium-large potatoes) peeled and cubed
1 cup of water
1-2 tablespoons of butter (totally optional, but I used 1 tablespoon. Also, the original recipe said 1/3c. butter, but that is totally not necessary)

put above in crock pot and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours (I did mine on high, and stirred it 1 time during the 3 hours).

When the 3 hours is up/when the potatoes are soft and mash-able get out an electric mixer (seriously, don't use a hand masher here).

Mix in 1/2-2/3 c. milk
Salt (the recipe said 1.5t but i just eyeballed it and went by taste)
I also added pepper

And that was it. The original recipe called for some green onions and cheddar cheese as well. If you add those (which I'm sure would be really delicious) then put the lid back on the crock pot and let it sit for 15 minutes to let the flavors blend :)

Trent got home and ate while I was typing this and said that they were the best mashed potatoes he's ever had. To quote him directly "those potatoes are as good as the best mashed potatoes I've ever had." If you know Trent, you know that it's the best compliment he could give me and the mashed potatoes!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Smatterings by Nicole

I had several blogs to write, but didn't want to put the energy into making one blog, so I'm going to mix it up and give you part (smatterings) of all the blogs I was thinking about writing. :)

-Have you ever kept track of the amount of calories you put into your body and work out of your body? I never really have, but I am now. I'm learning a lot about myself through it and hoping to shed some unwanted & unnecessary pounds. I can see how people get really obsessed with calorie counting though. I mean, when you write down (in my case, keep track of it in an awesome ipod application) everything you eat, you find yourself writing down a lot, or at least frequently! Doing something so frequently can easily lead to an obsession (or at least something you are passionate about)! Trent and I have been going through it together as well, and today I found myself (after 2 days of this) eating less and making better choices, and working out harder. Trent is an encourager, and I love that about him!

-The other day Ila found a piece of white yarn on the ground and picked it up. Then she started using is as one would use a q-tip to clean out their ears. It was pretty cute and funny, until she tried eating it. Then I thought it was kind of yucky, because it made me think of eating earwax, and we all know (don't we?) how terrible that stuff tastes.

-Trent and I are both pretty tired of teething and we are certain that Ila is SICK of it as well. It really has been a rough couple of weeks (or month) and we are not seeing the fruit of her gums labor yet. She still only has one molar through, and so many on the cusp. We're doing what we can for her discomfort (which is not much) and playing lots in hopes to distract her. She is currently pushing around laundry baskets and a very large Tupperware and making HILARIOUS faces. Now that I watch more closely, it appears as though she is attempting to make a fort, as she is desperately trying to get a large blanket onto the tupperware.

-I've been thinking about cutting down on our cheese intake around here. We all really love cheese and I love to cook things with cheese in it. So, in efforts to cut down on the cheese intake I made all of our meals this week cheese free. It was fun giving myself an extra challenge in meal planning, and so far it's been pretty good. Here are the 5 meals I planned (I usually only plan 5 because we always need a leftover night to make room in the fridge and I don't cook on Sundays).
-Tomato Basil Soup with French bread and salad
I made this last night without the salad and we just ate some regular white bread i made a few days ago. It was tasty, but Trent and I both agreed it would have been AMAZING with some grilled cheese sandwiches and I need to cut down the acid in the soup as well.
-Greek chicken and rice with spinach
Currently in the oven.
-Mulligans Stew
We got half a cow, and we are testing out the stew meat with this one! The ground beef was awesome
-Veg. Spaghetti & French Bread
We love this spaghetti recipe loaded with veggies! Really good with Parmesan cheese on top, but not this week!
-Slow cooker garlic mashed potatoes (without the cheese) Broiled Scallops and a side of broccoli I've been wanting to get scallops for MONTHS and I they FINALLY were on sale, so i got some. Thanks to Yoke's Fresh Market for the awesome sale!

-We got half a cow (actually a steer). It was a 4-H steer of a co-worker of Trent's. If you are going to eat meat, I really think this is the best way to go about getting it! It was really cheap compared to the store and it is so lean and delicious! Plus, we know where it came from.