road trip

Last weekend we all piled in the G35 leaving the rain and hail behind, heading south to Springdale.  There’s nothing like heading out on the open road…I always think I will read or watch a movie on my laptop. Instead, I always find myself listening to my favorite music. Singing loud and looking out the window, amazed at the beauty on the way! Utah is a beautiful state!

We’re headed to Springdale to celebrate our friends 25th anniversary…. their daughter Olivia is with us. Friday evening finds us celebrating with a BBQ dinner, live music by the happy couple and lots of children enjoying the beautiful weather, a rope swing and large yard! Later, a short walk from our friends house to the Cliff Rose Inn and we’re ready for sleep!

Saturday morning has us headed for a hike with friends up the Watchman Trail in Zion National Park. Our hotel is right at the entrance to the park so no driving necessary! The weather is wonderful. I love nature so as usual I am taking pictures of plants, creatures, kids… The hike to the top comes in just under an hour with a quick hike back down. Near the bottom of the trail we met a lizard… now we’ve seen many lizards since the hike started. They always scurry in a hurry when you approach but not this guy…  This lizard was a total “HAM”. He would take a couple of steps then stop and I swear he was posing for me! I got a few great shots. He would take a few more steps, climb up a rock and wait for me to snap a shot! Well, enough of that… now we’re headed to the pool for a couple of hours. I could get used to this!

The pool is so peaceful and relaxing with the beautiful red rock mountains in the backdrop… a lazy waterfall right behind our lounge chairs. Lunch at the pool from the nearby Whiptail Grill… “fire asada tacos” delicious!  Ariel and Whitney are loving the cool water of the pool. Kenny, Nancy and Me chillin. Seriously… I could stay here for a while.

The ceremony celebrating the first 25 years and celebrating the years to come was absolutely fun… It is so apparent how much Bill and Diana love each other. A beautiful “garden wedding” per say. The musicians that they are, Bill sang to Diana. In return Diana sang a beautiful song to Bill in Italian. How romantic! A wonderful dinner, more music and more of the kids (and the adults) enjoying themselves. Smores around the fire pit.  Too bad we have to leave this peaceful , relaxing place tomorrow.

Sunday morning… time for coffee and a muffin while soaking up some rays at the pool. A quick brunch at Bill and Dianas. All too soon it is time to leave. Back in the G35… music up, sunroof open, back on the road.

 

 

my little "ham"

 

 

 

mini pasta frittatas

What do you do with all of the leftover spaghetti noodles from dinner last night? Here’s a great way to use those noodles and create a great lunch box item or a great after school snack for the little ones. I actually got the idea from an episode of Rachael Ray but I changed the ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need

  • leftover spaghetti noodles
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk or half and half
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese, your favorite or a blend
  • fresh spinach leaves, chopped
  • lunchmeat ham, chopped
  • salt, pepper and any  family favorite seasoning ( I love Spike Seasoning in eggs)

*Some different options could be cherry tomatoes, small broccoli florets, mushrooms, etc.

Place spaghetti noodles in paper lined or baking cup sprayed with non- stick vegetable spray. Add in a sprinkle of ham, spinach and cheese. Whisk together eggs, milk and seasoning. Pour or ladle egg mixture into muffin cup to fill almost to the top. Bake at 375° for 15 -18 minutes or until set and lightly golden.
You can make this a fun event with the kids… let them help fill the cups with their favorite items. You can use whatever kinds of veggies, cheese, meat that your kids like. They are always more willing to eat the fun foods that they have helped to create! For re-heating, simply microwave  about 30 seconds.  What a great way to send a healthy, fun lunch to school for your kids!

 

reminiscing on a quiet saturday morning

It’s not very often that I find myself at home alone… such is the case today. Ariel is gone with her Daddy to breakfast at church. This is a special Daddy/ Daughter (Princess) Breakfast. A time for them to spend together, doing crafts and enjoying their own little bonding time. I hope they’re having a great time! I on the other hand, in my unusual quietness have been looking back through photos and reminiscing.

Pictures from almost three years ago… Ariel was so little. She still had that little baby face smile :) . Video from our trip to Disneyland last year. Time to head that way again soon. Who doesn’t love the “Magic of Disney”? The beach. Photos from my Mom and Dads last visit, with them, my great niece Alayna. Nana’s visit. Concerts in the park. Beautiful skies. Fun times. Spring is just around the corner and then in June our snow will melt enough to enjoy the deck (seriously folks, June!). This is where we spend most of our time in the summer. Grilling out, soaking up some rays, enjoying a glass of wine, chalk drawings in the driveway!  Good times spent just as family or with friends. Bring on summer, many more memories to make… for in the future I’ll want to look back and reminisce!

valentines

Valentines Day is just a couple of days away…  If you haven’t already bought Valentines cards for  your kids class, why not hand make them? Ariel and I went to Michaels Craft Store and bought assorted scrapbooking pages, beautiful papers and Valentine stickers.

We made cards for all of her classmates. It was a wonderful and fun afternoon spent together. Ariel always loves to do craft projects and this was a perfect way to have fun and give each classmate a card made especially for them!

 

the ramblings of a blessed mom

Eleven years ago today at 5:59 pm God blessed me with the most awesome gift. Her name is Ariel, “Lioness of God”. Her character stands true to the meaning of her name. She continues to bless me every day in a multitude of ways. I thank God for that blessing.

Some days I wonder, what am I here for? What is my purpose? Questions I don’t really have any substantial answer to. I’m not a scientist on the verge of discovering some great cure for cancer. I’m not inventing an item that will make life easier for millions of people. I don’t really know. But as I ponder these questions, I have to think that I am here for some “purpose”.  Maybe, it is to be a great Mom to Ariel. To teach her how to be a kind, generous and sweet person… Wait, she has taught me those things!

Maybe, it is just to love her as a blessing from God. Who knows, maybe one day she will discover a cure or invent something great! Either way, I’m one blessed Mom!

peeling carrots

I made a pot of vegetable soup a few weeks ago. Ariel couldn’t wait to help…she wanted to peel the carrots. No problem, she loves the peeler…

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Maybe a little too much! Shredded carrots, anyone?

 

time for a pedicure

I took Ariel and her friend Marea for pedicures just before Christmas. We left the salon that day with our toes decked out in red for the holidays and our legs feeling as energized as the color on our toes! There’s a lot to be said for relaxing in a massage chair while soaking your tired feet in peppermint infused water. Follow that with a scrub, massage with hot stones and then a dip in some hot wax. Mmmm…I think its time for a repeat visit!

not your average chip

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Kale chips. Yes, that’s what I said kale chips! Kale is so incredibly healthy. The nutritional value in a serving of Kale is off the food chain! (Being possibly the most extreme form of the term “off the chain”, ‘off the food chain’ is used to describe a situation where every aspect of it is completely dope & radical.) Kale is loaded with vitamins… One cup has 684% daily value of vitamin K and 206% A. Other vitamins include B6, folate, thiamin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. Kale is also rich in minerals… including manganese, copper, potassium, calcium and iron.

Ariel is not really a vegetable girl. So imagine my surprise when it turns out that she loves kale chips! You may have a picky little eater at home or you just might like to have them as a healthy, nutritious and low calorie snack. So easy to make…. and if you want a little quality time with the kids, let them help tear the kale into pieces and toss with the seasoning. (Bonus, kids are more likely to try something they helped to make!)

Preheat oven to 300°. Soak kale in a large bowl of water, letting dirt fall to the bottom. Remove and rinse well. Shake and let dry on towels. Cut kale into small pieces, removing stem. Toss cut kale in a large bowl with olive oil. Season with your favorite spice, salt and pepper. Ariel really likes it seasoned with Spike seasoning if you can find it. I liked it with nutmeg. Experiment to your liking! Spread oiled and seasoned kale  in one layer onto baking sheet. Bake until crispy about 15 minutes, maybe a little longer.

Enjoy and have no guilt about eating your not so average chips!

*Note… If you are taking prescription anticoagulants you should consult with your doctor before consuming large quantities of kale.

mushroom and goat cheese tart with watercress salad

My friend was telling me about a recipe she made with goat cheese and tomatoes in a tart…. This got my thoughts going! I love it when an idea jumps in my head and takes over. It took me a good week and a half before I had time to actually get around to trying out my new recipe idea… It was worth the wait. Here’s what you need…

For the tart:

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (keep cold)
  • 3 Tbsp. butter,
  • 2 slices of a large onion, cut in half
  • about a half pound of assorted mushrooms, (I used shitaki, portabella and cremini) sliced
  • fresh thyme sprigs
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • pinch of crushed red pepper, optional
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 5 – 6 oz. pkg. fresh goats cheese (chèvre) , softened to room temperature

For the salad:

  • 1 bunch watercress, rinsed well
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 325°. Melt 1 Tbsp. of the butter in a large skillet and sauté the onion until slightly caramelized. Remove from pan and set aside. Add remaining 2 Tbsp. butter and mushrooms to the pan, season with salt, pepper and fresh thyme (be generous with the thyme) and sauté  3 or 4 minutes until tender. Add wine and let reduce and thicken a little. Remove from heat and set aside. Unfold puff pastry onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Score the pastry 1/2 inch from edge by gently cutting with a knife, not cutting through to the bottom. Fold this 1/2 inch edge inward over the pastry square creating a raised edge to your tart.

Spread the goat cheese over the bottom of the pastry. Cover this with the mushroom mixture and some additional leaves of fresh thyme. Bake for about 18 -20 minutes until pastry is cooked through and golden on the edges. Toss the watercress with the olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper. To serve, cut a slice of tart to plate and top with a handful of the watercress salad. Pair this with a glass of that white wine that you opened just for this recipe and enjoy!

*Note… This recipe can be done without the wine if you like.

*If you can’t find watercress you can substitute baby arugula.

*This is a wonderful dish to serve for brunch, lunch, as an appetizer or a larger portion for a light dinner!

              

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

what the devil... an egg

Today (November 2) is National Deviled Egg Day! I know, who knew? Well now you do!  Deviled eggs bring back memories of every holiday get together our family ever had. It  was the official job of my sister Tammy to make them. The deviled egg was a dish that was always present…Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas. The little devils even show up at family BBQs! So I thought I’d share our family’s deviled egg recipe with you . Keeping in mind that I don’t measure a lot of the things I make… You’ll have to use your best judgement on the amounts of some ingredients!

  • dozen eggs, hard boiled and peeled
  • mayonnaise
  • yellow mustard
  • sweet pickle relish
  • fresh finely chopped onion (about a Tablespoon)
  • salt, pepper, paprika

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise, scoop out the yolk into a small bowl. Mash with a fork. Add about a Tablespoon of mayo, a couple teaspoons of mustard, a Tablespoon or more  relish( to your taste), the chopped onion, salt and pepper to taste. Mix all ingredients until well blended. Taste and adjust as necessary. Place mixture into a large baggie, cut off a small corner and use this to pipe filling into the egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika and top with a few scallion slices.  You little devil!