Friday, April 30, 2010

Freezer Cooking Menu: May 2010

Beth at Penny Pantry gave me the great idea to check out OAMC cookbooks from the library during the #oamc twitter party yesterday. I found 4, but only 2 are usable because apparently the idea of cooking for convenience is a *new* idea... Let's just say that when I'm busting out 30 meals in one shot, I'm not exactly going to have time to perfectly mold a "Layered Salmon and Cucumber Mousse" or a "Savory Chicken Cheesecake." [Do either of those even sound edible? blech.]

The two I'm trying out this month are: Girlfriends on the Go by Suzie Roberts and Betty Crocker's Do-Ahead Cookbook. I rarely follow a recipe 100% through, so if I change a recipe enough to honestly claim it as my own, I'll post it on here. Otherwise, check your local library for a copy of the book!

C requested that I prepare meals that he can grill. [You bet I can do that! Lol. I love "not having to cook!"] We're at the point where we really need to eat up the meals in our freezer, so I'm starting out with 14 meals done. I'll be making 16 dinners and some sides.

Here's what's on tap:


  • Buffalo Chicken Pizza [C's Request. And 1 of the 2 things I make better than Chef Jessica. I'm gonna hold on to that for as long as I can! Recipe to come!]

  • Mushroom Cheese Burgers

  • Italian Chicken Rolls

  • Chicken Asparagus Pot Pies

  • Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

  • Lemon Chicken

  • Poppyseed Chicken

  • Souvlaki Marinated Chicken Skewers


  • Old-fashioned Baked Beans

  • Twice Baked Potatoes

  • Dill-Lemon Rice <--Dry Mix! Super excited to try this one. :)

  • Whole Wheat Brown-n-Serve Rolls


  • Brown Bag Burritos [If I can con C into making his amazing refried beans. That recipe is coming too!]

Need some recipes? Check out my Recipes page!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

10 Easy Ways to Go Gourmet

By Guest Blogger: Jessica Nan
If you are interested in being featured on, please contact me with Guest Blogger in the subject line. I do reserve the right to decline inappropriate or unrelated content.


If you have seen Ratatouille you’ll remember the common phrase of “Everyone can Cook!”  I too am a firm believer in this phrase, but maybe with a little twist. “Everyone can cook, but not everyone can cook well.” Secret is, Everyone CAN cook well, it just takes a little refining and some patience. Lucky for you, I’ve picked my 10 favorite tips and tricks to dress up almost anything in the kitchen!

  1. Be fearless: "The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-[heck] attitude."  Julia Child You can do this, people do it all the time.

  2. Mise en Place: This is French for ‘everything in place.’ You watch those cooking shows where everything is just measured out and they throw it all together in 30mins. This will simplify your recipes, and make them quicker. Running back to the pantry for that extra cup of flour is just annoying.

  3. Discover your talents: What is that one dish you want to perfect? What do you love? I love to make cinnamon rolls, I’ve made them so many times I probably have 10 different variations. Take a basic recipe and change it up. I love to put a little orange juice in my frosting, it complements the cinnamon just like Christmas Morning.

  4. Cute tools: It’s always more fun to make something cute if you feel cute. I love my cupcake apron, lime green zester, and cherry red bowl scrape. I have an apron for just about every month.

  5. Never underestimate a pastry bag: taking an extra five minutes to pipe your mashed potatoes into rosettes with make you look like a five star Chef. I pipe everything!

  6. Always let your dough rest and rise: The key to a light fluffy dough is to not over work it and let the yeast have time to develop. The more you rush it, the tougher your bread will be.

  7. Colors: I was told the first day of class you, “Eat with your eyes first.” If it doesn’t look appealing, you aren’t going to want to put it in your body. With butter creams and frostings, avoid over-the-top colors. Purples, Blues, and Greens are very unnatural. Opt for the pastels, spring colors.

  8. Good working music: Singing into my Whisk to Michael Jackson’s ABC 123 is just about standard in making a good product.

  9. Read the instructions on what the dish is supposed to look like finished: Golden, Brown, and Delicious works well. (GBD) Use cooking times as a ball park figure.

  10. Make mistakes: the best thing you can do is make a mistake. That’s the only way you will learn what works and what doesn’t. Who knows maybe adding parsley instead of thyme will make the dish better?

Jessica Nan is currently attending Johnson and Wales University pursuing degrees in Baking and Pastry, Culinary Arts, and Culinary Nutrition. She plays for the University’s basketball team, and hopes to graduate with honors.

Monday, April 26, 2010

BYU Graduation

This weekend rocked. In a major way. For starters, my mom came into town on Wednesday night. We went to a late night dinner at Outback to celebrate C finishing his finals [woot!] and then stayed up talking until 1 am like teenagers. [My mom is more of a best friend at this point in my life. Love LOVE that.]

I worked a half day on Thursday, C & mom came to pick me up. They met the boss, who congratulated me on finishing college and handed me the key to the company car! A sweet black 2009 infiniti coupe. It was mine for the weekend. Note to self: be an AWESOME employee. Marketecture rocks.

After we drove home in the BEST car ever, we picked up my cap & gown and got ready for commencement. Long, big meeting where they tell you to pay the school back after you pay off your student loans. I was ready to walk out the door when C hands me a little package. Do you remember this? Well, it has a permanent home on my left wrist. It even brought along its two matching buddies to adorn my ears. Husband.of.the.year.

We finished up commencement & spent the rest of the night trying every single dress on in the new Mikarose outlet at Provo Towne Center. We bought two dresses and mom vowed to take my sister, Jessica, back the next night. Too much cute stuff at VERY reasonable prices!

Went to bed & got up bright and early for convocations. [had to be there by 7:15am. OUCH.] Remember my morning person post? We haven't made much progress. I'm still desperately in love with my pillow. C on the other hand popped out of bed and had his A-game on to save seats.

The whole family came. I got to see my dad for the first time in months and even wonder-mom Emilee came down with her two little girls! [She's also the one who snapped these great pictures: thanks Em! I didn't have time to edit these, but they look pretty good as is!]

Me and Mom & Dad McGuire

Parents + C & K

C & K

The whole McGuire family minus the Moores in Denver. Wish you were here!

The Call Clan minus Amberlee, Adam & the boys. [Adam & the boys came later. We sure missed you Amberlee!]

Remember my awesome sister who goes to culinary school and turns out treats like this? Yep. She was here the WHOLE weekend. Ask me how that was. YUM.

The whole shabang.

Then, I took off my gown and Em saw the Mikarose dress I was wearing and insisted I take a few more pictures.

Yep, that's the chewlry bracelet on my wrist!

Then my mom noticed how a blue in my belt matched my dad's shirt.

...and I noticed how C matches me. So we took another picture.

The rest of the weekend involved building a garden, mini golfing, arcade dominating, and visiting Em & Adam. I'm way excited to tell you all about our little garden! So stay tuned!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Giveaway Winners!

So, the time really got away from me this weekend. It was graduation, my family was in town, lots of fun to be had but not a whole lot of time for this here blog. Winners that were supposed to be picked on Friday weren't posted in time.

To make up for it, I've decided to give everyone that entered the giveaway a free set of lowercase monograms!

Check your e-mail!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Releases: 4.21.10 [A GIVEAWAY!]

I've recently finished a super cute set of jumbo monogram templates for my trend-letters series. The lower case ones are about 6-8" big and can be layered with your favorite papers.

Note: The papers in this preview are from a brand spankin' new kit called "Hello Rain." Inspired by a most unfortunate dance number from when I was a 4-year-old. Miss Alice Ann, my instructor, really upset me when she stuffed my sash that had fallen to the ground mid-chasee [<--looked that one up. It's pronounced Shah-Say], right up my leotard through the leg hole. We danced to the song "Hello Rain." It's a favorite family video. [Stop laughing Lindsay. Really.]

Anyway, these letter templates are available here.

But if you'd like to add these to your stash for FREE, leave a comment with your letter of the day and why! I'll pick 3 winners on Friday.

Example: My letter of the day today is P. for "Phew" because C finished his last final today and this semester has been beasty!

It's also for "Proud" because I married a genius.

and "Port, Air" because my mom is coming in 2 hours and I can hardly wait! [<--yes, I realize that's a stretch. Bear with me. Deal: First person to figure out a better "P" word for my mom coming into town gets these free too.]

O, and if you decide to spread the love via twitter or FB, leave a comment telling me so and you can have an extra entry.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

You've Got Me All Wrong

...and the sad thing is, it's my fault.

I was reading on this blog the other day and read something really interesting.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to find a blog you love…and then try to create its clone. One of the greatest things about blogs is that they afford us the opportunity to get to know the individual behind the blog. Blogging is part of social media because it’s just that: social. Let your personality come through. If you’re goofy, be goofy. If you’re feisty, be feisty. If you’re contemplative, be contemplative. Your readers will be drawn to what you have to say, but they will also be drawn to who you are. BE YOU.

I've been spending so much time trying to figure out how I can fit in with this crowd of people 10 years older than me. They have kids. They have homes. They like doing different things than me. They're in a completely different stage of life. They go to different churches, eat different food, have a different family situation. Heck, they're probably blonde.






I've been wasting so much energy worrying about what they are doing and how I can fit into that mold. I've poured over hundreds of different scrapbooking kits and tried to figure out what "my" style is, but my style is suffocating underneath everyone else's. This isn't to say that I can't be inspired by other people, because one click on that inspiration tab will clear that up right away. I love getting new ideas and learning from people who are clearly my superior.

I'm more getting at the idea that I've been so stressed out about becoming like them that I'm hardly giving myself any credit for my abilities. So here's the "me" I think you've been missing out on.

  1. I am 21 years old. Not "20-something." I'm 21. I'm young. Some people will probably read that as "naive." Maybe they're right, but maybe that's not such a bad thing.

  2. I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I am happy to answer any questions that arises. I do ask that you pose your questions in a respectful manner, though. I believe in standing up for what you believe in and that morals should never be sacrificed.

  3. I work as an account manager at Marketecture, Inc. in Orem, Utah. I love my job and have great co-workers, but I sincerely hope I can work/blog from home after we move to Iowa next year.

  4. A bigger part of me hopes I have an excuse to stay at home when we move to Iowa next year because I believe the "most important work we will ever do is within the walls of our own homes."

  5. I've wanted to be a homemaker since I was a little girl.

  6. I pop my knuckles.

  7. I'm inspired by music and can remember the lyrics to almost any song that I hear twice.

  8. My family used to call me high-maintenance...then I got married.

  9. I like vintage colors and Martha Stewart.

  10. I've kissed the lead guitarist of my favorite band EVER.

  11. I have a SEVERE phobia of spiders. My brother Rick has a hand-puppet spider named Phillip that has made me burst into tears on more than one occasion.

  12. I play the guitar and sing and have written my own stuff on occasion.

  13. I have a mustard yellow purse.

  14. I refuse to get an iPhone. I have no desire to be that connected all the time.

  15. My current goals are to eat more fresh produce, watch less television, and put C first 100% of the time.

  16. I don't like medicine. I've been contemplating at-home natural childbirth and being married to a future chiropractor rocks because a healthy lifestyle just comes naturally.

  17. I used to have over 50 different flavors of lipgloss. I'm down to 4 because C doesn't like kissing me when I have it on. Perhaps a shiny chapstick would work better. Do you know of any?

  18. I sing. ALL THE TIME. When I was growing up, my dad would listen to me for about 2 hours before he'd tell me to "give it a rest."

  19. I think my parents are flawless, my siblings are super talented, funny, wonderful, etc. & I completely scored on the in-law front. From C's parents, to siblings, to the entire extended family: they're awesome.

  20. I believe in true love and I believe that "spark" never has to go away.

  21. I believe "that's just the way I am" is a total cop-out, but "that's just the way I am right now" is legit. It takes time to break habits.

That's a lot of "me." I'm flawed. I'm imperfect, but it's the real deal. My designs are a reflection of me. I've been trying so hard to fit into this saturated market of digital scrapbooking designers, but I don't really want to fit in. I want to stand out! I want to bring something to the table that no one else has! And that's the belief that you can scrap about something besides your kids, husband, etc. You should be able to scrap your own prom, not have your mom do it for you. You can be young and classy. You can and should create your own style. I love jumbo monograms, so I made some. [They'll be in the shop soon.] I love yellow, so I made this kit [inspired by my mustard yellow purse, and my sister Jessica.] There's nothing wrong with scrapping an entire album on a white background. Non-handwriting fonts are OK to use for journaling! It is OK to shop in the little boys section.

So what about you? Got anything you need to get off your chest?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Whole Wheat Blender Banana Pancakes

C earns the husband of the year award every Sunday morning when we get to pay tribute to the one and only Jack Johnson. Not only does C take the time to sleep in with me, but he gets out of bed first and makes pancakes for us.

Yesterday, he tried a new recipe. It makes me so HAPPY that he's on the eating healthier band wagon with me. He opened up a can of wheat from our year supply [more on that later] and whipped up these banana pancakes in no time. The man even made homemade syrup. Can I get a hoo-rah? That's who I married ladies. Be jealous. :)

We got the original recipe from Lorna Nevitt, C's aunt. They are SO good!

Whole Wheat Blender Pancakes

  • 1 cup milk or 1 cup water and 1/3 cup dry milk

  • 1 cup wheat or 1/2 cup wheat and 3/4 cup rolled oats or 1/2 cup wheat and 3/4 cup six-grain cereal [<--this is next on our to-try list. YUM.]

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/4 cup oil

  • 1/4 cup honey

  • Banana, Peaches, or Apples

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  1. Blend milk and wheat together for 5 minutes.

  2. While it's blending, preheat the griddle.

  3. Add eggs, oil & honey and blend well.

  4. Add sliced banana, peaches, or apples. [I'm thinking bananas and walnuts would be delicious too!]

  5. When all is blended, add baking powder and pulse 4 times.

  6. Griddle 'em up!

  7. Serve with strawberry jam, or butter and syrup.

If you try these, let me know! I'd love to hear how you like 'em!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Planning Your Freezer Cooking Day: Pt. 2

Part Two: Your Battle Strategy

Note: this will be a four part series consisting of the following. Part One: Plan Your Meals. Part Two: Your Battle Strategy. Part Three: Assemble The Troops. Part Four: Your Freezer Cooking Questions Answered! If throughout this series, you have a question, or find something I didn’t really explain too well please leave your question in the comments! I’ll be answering these questions in part four. If you’re reading this after the series has ended, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment and I’ll do Q&As in the future too, or if you need an answer like, now, because you’re driving to the store as we speak-which is shamefully dangerous…worse than texting…-park the car, then e-mail me at {at} gmail {dot} com and I’ll get back with you asap!

Note #2: If you missed part 1, check it out here!

The idea of cooking 30 meals all in one go can seem a little daunting. With a little bit of [minor] planning, you can save yourself a ton of time.

Here's a few things that I learned by not doing them in the first place:

  1. Leave all the meat in the refrigerator the night before. Your little microwave's defrost feature will thank you. Besides, our microwave can only handle two chicken breasts at a time. That's a lot of excess work!

  2. Gather/Print/Organize ALL of your recipes. My last freezer cooking day was not the best due to my lack of organization. I kept running upstairs to get recipes off the computer. [After the first one, I realized we were out of ink, so it resulted in me scrawling recipes out and hoping nothing was burning in the kitchen. Not good.] I recommend getting every recipe together BEFORE your cooking day, making sure everything is printed and/or easily accessible and then organizing them in the order you're going to cook them.

  3. Organize Your Recipes by Meat. It's a lot easier to brown all the ground beef in one go, slice up chicken in one go, etc. Plus, you don't have to worry about contaminating your cutting board. When your recipes are already in order, this will happen naturally.

  4. Check for Time-Consuming Recipes! There is nothing more frustrating than flipping to the next recipe on your list and reading the words " the crock pot on high for 3 hours..." If you know what recipes call for a slow cooker before hand, you can set them to cook right when you start cooking then bag and freeze them when you're finishing up. [This mentality also pertains to recipes that have to bake, rise, marinade in the fridge before freezing, etc.]

This is how I do it, it's not necessarily THE way it should be done, but it definitely works for me! Only 4 steps to a quick and successful OAMC day? Trust me, the 30 minutes or less that it takes is well worth it. Do you have a quick trick that makes your OAMC day a breeze? I'd love to hear about it!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Solved My Getting Up Early Problemo

If you recall, my office now requires me to be here by 8am. [It's slightly painful.] And I asked all of you to help me find motivation for getting out of bed in the morning.

I think I'm going to take this quote and plaster it on the wall next to my bed. [Realistically, it'll be on a post-it. But I'll write it cute!]

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Releases 4.14.10

I've just added the Designer Sketchbook: Love Letters templates to my shop! They are inspired by my own Love Letters album seen here. There are 15 templates included [2 album covers and 13 page templates] in .psd, .tif, and .jpg formats.

And just because I's a 14th page template to complete your set for F.R.E.E!


& please leave me a quick comment if you download. I love reading 'em!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Walk Like You Have Somewhere to Go

What a refreshing view on the world! She starts her auto-biography from childhood, through her teen pregnancy with Shaquille, right up to the present day. Her trials and joys are laid out plain and clear & the writing, honestly, makes it easy to imagine her reading it aloud. I think I enjoyed that the most. It feels raw and unedited; real, I guess. She includes her favorite scriptures that helped her get through each phase of her life, which made the book all the more applicable to me on a personal level.

I honestly couldn't put the book down! I had a day off of work yesterday and had every intention of being super productive. Au contraire! I read this book in front of the computer, while making dinner, instead of cleaning the house, etc. Lucille really draws you in, and her can-do attitude is contagious! I really enjoyed her take on education and motherhood. She mentioned how she thinks every generation has an obligation to pave the way for the next generation, in the name of human progression. I recommend this book to anyone who feels like they've got it bad. It really made me appreciate the opportunities I have and the family I've been blessed with.

To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I have to mention that Thomas Nelson has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. Click for details.

The Call Family Food Revolution

We're quitting. Cold Turkey.

C & I have a bit of a sweet tooth problem. We eat homecooked meals and even bake our own bread at this point [yay, college!] but our downfall is sugar. Some people have a sweet tooth, our entire jaw is made up of sweet teeth. Not good. Especially when you're signed up to run a half marathon [whole marathon in C's case] in June.

So we're quitting. We went on a good long walk in the fieldhouse on campus and both decided we wanted to be healthier. I suggested we drop sugar until C graduates. That's next April: so just over a year away. Once we were both on board, C had a little bit of a hard time understanding exactly what that meant.

"So, can we still make doughnuts?"

"What if we don't ice them, we just roll them in sugar?"

"What about pancakes with powdered sugar?"

"What about your graduation brunch?"

"Weren't you going to make Up cakes for me for finals week?"

"Can we still have Chocolate Chip pancakes?"

He then informed me that he drew the line at chocolate milk. He drinks it after his long runs. Apparently, it has the perfect combination of proteins, carbs, and fats that you need after a hard work out. We'll see if I can find a replacement for that. Maybe I could bring back his favorite spinach shakes.

We had an intervention last night. My wonderful sister-in-law Kiara works at fresh market and brought us gobs of clearanced Easter candy. The good stuff. We gathered it all up and took it to our next door neighbors. They didn't want it either, but said they'd take it to a study group later this week. It's about time for finals. Heaven knows SOMEONE needs the sugar.

The theme here is fruit. Sugar replaced with fruit. Ice cream replaced with homemade sorbet. Healthy recipes. Sugar-free desserts. Natural ingredients. Whole grains. And yes, this will all be included in OAMC.

We're planting a garden, too. I'd like to do it sooner rather than later, but I woke up to an inch of snow! It's mid-April! augh.

Here's to more energy. Clear skin. Balanced hormones. [& hopefully sunshine!]

What's your first step to a food revolution? Small steps make a world of difference!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Journaling on a Time Crunch

Journaling is sometimes really hard for me to put on a layout. Sometimes I have too much to say, other times I couldn't fill the space if my life depended on it. However, my perfectionist nature still needs the journaling to act as a design element. I was also under a major time crunch for this album [which is still technically not finished, but it's printed!] so my solution was cute little envelopes to hold journaling, ticket stubs, and other memorabilia that sometimes gets neglected when scrapbooking digitally. Pathetic, isn't it? That my solution for journaling is to wimp out on it completely. Don't get me wrong, the story is the most important part of this album for me! I just wanted to make sure I had enough space to say what I needed to say. And the coupon was expiring at the end of the month, so something HAD to be done.

I printed this album through Artscow and was OK with it. If I was doing it again, though, and didn't have a coupon code for Artscow, I would definitely print somewhere else! They have weird page restrictions. This album is 61 pages. I originally wanted 47 pages, but my options were 41 or 61, so 61 it was. I ended up just scrapping some of our engagement pictures for the last 14 pages or so, which is probably a good thing, because now I don't have to scrap an entire engagement album! Heaven knows those pictures are way too prevalent in our house anyway. Plus, C printed them all out and stuck them in a 4x6 album about a year ago, just so we'd have them.

The album is 5x7 and I have to say, scrapping on something other than a square LO was kind of liberating! The templates for both the envelopes and pages will be in the shop soon!

The pages in this album mainly used the Chocolate Cherry Delight collab from Sunshine Studio Scraps, and freebies from, the white frame came from Gina Cabrera's Snow Day kit.

You can see on this spread notes for a 3x5 envelope and the journaling it will include. This kept me organized and made the LOs go quick. I used the same heading for every envelope page sprinkled throughout the book. Now I know what stuff to put in each envelope! [Font is Pea Hannah Chocolate Swirls from Fonts for Peas]

Wha'dya think? I'm excited to have a new coffee table book! And for our story to be recorded. The first 6 months we knew each other were a bit of a whirlwind. Writing it out made me realize how crazy it all really was!

Tough Stuff

I'm in a bit of a pickle. Here's the digest version:

  1. I love my job. It really is fabulous. Great pay. I actually use my degree. I learn a TON every day. etc.

  2. I currently live in Utah and have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for my entire life.

  3. I understand that the culture in Utah is very different than anywhere else in the world and can be a big adjustment especially if you're neither LDS ["Mormon"] nor from around here.

  4. There's a new guy in my department. He's been here for a couple of months.

  5. He is not LDS. [I only say this to

  6. He moved here from

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pomp & Circumstance: Save the Date

If you're related to me and/or live in the Orem/Provo area and received one of our Christmas cards, there's one in the mail headed your way! If you're not related to me and didn't receive a Christmas card, but would still like one, don't be shy! Send me your address and I'll get you one asap!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tales From An Ill-Equipped Kitchen: Jam

One of the left-over recipes from my April OAMC day was strawberry jam. I love this recipe! C took a break from studying to help with it. It took about 30 minutes start to finish and resulted in a lot of giggling. My sister, Jessica, is in culinary school. I'm 99.9% sure this post is going to make her cringe.

Sliced Strawberries.

It was C's job to mash the berries. The recipe said to use a potato masher for best results. I'm thinking they meant the old fashioned metal mashers. I doubt they even make those anymore. Our plastic one made a good effort, but was pretty pathetic and just slopped berries over the sides of the bowl. We actually found that the pizza cutter did some serious damage. The beater was it's right-hand man and the potato masher ran the anchor leg. We did end up with a really nice puree with fruit chunks. Yum.

We combined the pectin & everything and it was time to put the jam into jars. Do we have a funnel? no. In the past, we've rolled up a piece of paper, but we figured this needed something a little more sturdy. A while back, we found sobe lifewater for free. So now we have 30 of them. We cut open one of the empty bottles, rinsed it out & voila! funnel! [We'll wait while Jessica finishes crying. Sorry, Jess. At least you know now what I need in my stocking!]

However, right tools or not, the jam is delicious! We let it set on the counter over night & I made myself a sandwich with it for lunch today. Considering the cost benefit & how easy it was [no, really. Despite everything, it was super easy!] we probably won't be buying jam again, just looking for clearance berries.

I'm sorry for the poor quality photos. I'm still trying to figure out the settings on our new-to-us camera.

Here's the recipe for those interested:

Freezer Strawberry Jam

2 pints strawberries, hulled (2 cups crushed)
4 cups sugar
1 box fruit pectin (Sure Jell)
3/4 cup water

In a large bowl, crush one cup of strawberries at a time, use a potato masher for best results. If using a food processor, pulse to a very fine chop. Do not puree. Jam should have bits of fruit.

Measure exactly 2 cups of the prepared fruit. Place into a separate bowl. Measure exactly 4 cups of sugar into another bowl. Stir sugar into prepared fruit.
Mix well.

Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a small saucepan stir together one box of pectin and 3/4 cup water. Pectin may start out lumpy. Bring the mixture to a boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Stir the pectin mixture into the fruit mixture.

Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy, about 3 minutes. A few sugar crystals may remain.

Pour into prepared jars or containers, leaving a 1/2-inch space at the top for expansion during freezing. Cover with lids.

Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.

— Source: Sure Jell recipe

Thursday, April 8, 2010

How To Stay In Love [#1]

My hometown of Flagstaff does something called "Mormon Prom" for the 16+ kids as an alternative to the "dirty dancing" craze that has recently swept the nation. It's a classy night in a good atmosphere. My little bro is 16 now, and has a cute little lady all his own. [weird, yes because I'm used to the J.T. that played with rescue heroes and ran naked through the house after his bath. but she's a total doll! One of those girls every mom wishes her son would be interested in.] 

They've been "together" for 6 months now, and on the 6 month mark, J.T. put this little ditty together to ask her to Mormon Prom.

As I understand it, J.T. wore a jacket over this shirt all day until choir, which I think they have together. Cue the roses, sharpie in the oversized bag and a cute note from my stud of a brother.

With 3 older sisters, chances are he's got some good resources for spoiling a girl! Now, all of you ladies who are sitting there wishing your man would do something like this for you, remember there is no reason you can't spoil (and probably slightly embarrass) your man just the same. Plan a fun date (or night in) and put a little effort into asking him on a good old-fashioned date. A candy bar and a note in his lunch/wallet/car will make a pretty big difference in his day. Who knows, he might just reciprocate sometime.

Then, you can make out like teenagers. Because being a teenager, sometimes, really isn't all bad!

Note: if you're interested in some pretty sa-weet ways to ask him out-you've got to read this post.

Got a tried & true way to stay in love? Send it to{at} to be featured here!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rise & Shout!

I am a BYU cougar. My parents both attended BYU. My sister, her husband, me and my husband all attend(ed) BYU. I was actually born while my parents were living in BYU married housing. My entire family is able to sing the BYU fight song start to finish at a ridiculously young age. We bleed blue.

It starts out "Rise & shout! The Cougars are out!" My parents used this as a mechanism to get us out of bed in the mornings. The end of the fight song is a series of "Rah rah rahs" followed by "GooooooooOOOO Cougars!" [For getting us out of bed, they'd replace Cougars, with Kristin, Lindsay, Jessica, etc.]

Here's where my dilemma comes in. I no longer have a zealous parent to get me out of bed in the mornings. I've been doing alright getting my fanny to work in the mornings by 9, but I received an e-mail today explaining that our office hours are now 8:30 to 5:30 or [in my case, to avoid cutting into my "wife time"] 8:00 to 5:00.

Also, this comic accurately describes my outlook on the entire "early-to-bed; early-to-rise" mentality. So all of you morning people can just keep your condescending comments to yourself.

So, the question is: how do you convince yourself to get out of bed in the morning?

Just to give you an idea of the severity of the first thought is generally: "No. Way. I won't get to sleep again for [x] hours." Yep. I'm in trouble.

Back On the Horse

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Free Multi-tasking Mom Telesummit

I'm not a mom, yet. [<--no. not an announcement.] But, someday I will be. And I'm at a time of life where starting our family legacy is in the forefront of my mind. Funny enough, General Conference was this past weekend. I always write down a few questions I want to have answered during the conference and one of my main ones was: "How do I balance all the directions I'm being pulled without being overwhelmed & feeling like a failure?" Julie B. Beck summed it up nicely in the second talk of the entire conference by saying, your heart will desire to do a lot more than your body can physically do. That was one of the best talks I've ever heard. To supplement that material, I'll be listening to the telesummit: [See Maruxa Murphy's & Stacy Julian's topics below.]

Other questions were: "What can I do to get more fulfillment out of the stage of life I'm in right now?" [See Stacy Julian's topic below.]

Do you remember my walrus post a while back? [See Scott Tousignant's topic.]

Another question was: "How can I better show C I love him?" [See Jennifer Louden's topic.]

Needless to say, I'm going to be listening in!

The All-Star Lineup Includes:

Debbye Cannon
Finding More Time in the Day

The Business Mom Mentor, Debbye Cannon, professional organizer and mom, is an expert at helping time-starved women create more effective processes for their families. She'll speak on the topic of streamlining your family's systems to find more time in the day, with specific hints and tips as to how to get chores and responsibilities finished quickly and efficiently, so you all have more time to play!

Stacy Julian
Celebrating Life: Bringing Color to the Everyday

Scrapbooking superstar Stacy Julian has founded a magazine, launched an online business, and traveled the world, teaching women the joy of creativity. Stacy, mom to five, will talk about celebrating your family's everyday life in order to make each moment a fantastic adventure -- within the four walls of your own home.
Carrie Wilkerson

Turning Passion into Profits

Carrie Wilkerson, the Barefoot Executive, is a busy entrepreneur with more business ventures than kids (four little Barefoot kiddos, to be exact!). Carrie, who makes an executive-level salary from home, while dealing with all the regular mom duties, will talk on tips for turning your passion into a paycheck -- without going back to the office.

Maruxa Murphy

Juggling Priorities - When It's All on the Critical List

Maruxa Murphy isn't just a mom, she's a MOMPRENAIRE! As the founder of online community, Maruxa knows first-hand how difficult it can be to juggle work and home life. She'll be sharing her wisdom on how to balance work and home life, particularly when crises on either front arise.

Scott Tousignant

Move It AND Lose It!

Scott Tousignant may not be a multitasking mom, but he knows plenty of them -- and has helped them get fit without spending hours at the gym. Certified Trainer and dad to two children, Scott specializes in helping work-at-home moms lose fat and get back in shape. Scott will be talking about how moms can get fit quickly at home, with a minimum of time and equipment.

Jennifer Louden
Loving Your Family, Loving Yourself

The queen of self-care, professional speaker and author Jennifer Louden helps women find moments of peace amidst their busy days. Mom of one, Jennifer will answer your questions about self-care and how to find time in your schedule to take care of yourself.

Lenore Skenazy
Free-Range or Deranged?

Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids, was dubbed "America's Worst Mom" when she let her pre-teen son ride the subway home alone. The resulting maelstrom of press attention led Lenore to write a hilarious and revealing book on over-parenting in the 21st century (Note: Halloween candy won't kill you). In this call, Lenore will share tips and suggestions for letting go of your kids and letting them fly on their own -- before they're eligible for AARP status.

Linsey Knerl
Saving Dollars, not Cents

Let's face it -- no matter what your tax bracket, all moms are trying to save money. But there's saving money and there's SAVING MONEY. And Linsey Knerl, blogger with top-ranked personal finance blog and soon-to-be-mom of five, can tell us the difference. Linsey will share her thoughts on couponing, the biggest savings bang for your buck, and more.

Jeanne Muchnick

Sanity-Saving Dinner Solutions

Mom and writer Jeanne Muchnick knows what it's like to face "the witching hour" with no idea what's for dinner. But she also knows how important it is to eat together, at home. She'll share secrets for getting dinner on the table and the kids in their seats.

Lain Ehmann
Multitasking Is Not a Dirty Word

As appealing as a constant state of Zen might be, the reality is that most parents' lives are more like the circus than the monastery -- and we wouldn't have it any other way! Queen multitasker Lain Ehmann will share how she raises three kids, started several business, moved across the country, and keeps all the balls in the air (hint: It has to do with lowering your expectations!).
**Schedule of times/days coming soon!

Don't Miss a Thing!

Schedule too busy to make all the calls? While your free registration gives you an all-access pass to each of our teleconferences, you can get MP3 downloads and written transcripts of all TEN of the calls to listen to over and over again for only $39! More info coming soon!

Haven't registered yet? Click HERE!
If you're going, let me know! I'd love to swap notes. :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Guilty as Charged: OAMC April 2010

I know I said this OAMC day was going to have to wait until next weekend, but I was so excited to try out some of my new recipes that I dragged [drug?] C to the grocery store until 1 am on on Thursday night/Friday morning and got my A game on for Saturday. Here's the final product:

I'm kind of glad I didn't do too much research before I started doing OAMC. It never occurred to me that I might need an extra freezer, or that going all out and doing 30 meals in one shot might be harder than I thought, or that there are so many different ways to organize and plan your cooking day they'll make your head spin.

I kind of just went for it. And I'm so grateful I did! Since then, I've stumbled upon blog after blog of ways to get past the "Major OAMC Hang-ups." I guess if you don't think about the hang-ups to begin with and just decide you're going to make it work, it will!

Try it. You'll never go back.

This month was the first time I tried doing anything other than the main dish for dinners. It took just as long, but I got 32 crescent rolls out of the deal too!

I've also received some questions as to what my mixes look like. To clarify, I don't open the cans and pour them in. I just keep everything together [and measure out spices/rice/etc.] so it takes about a minute to get the meal in the oven. This also saves space in the freezer and makes for a great solution for those "oh my gosh I totally forgot to thaw out dinner" days.

Final tally: 28 dinners. 2 potato casseroles. 32 dinner rolls.

Still to make: Strawberry Jam. Artichoke Dip. Bagels. Instant Oatmeal. C's also planning to do his famous, incredible refried beans so we can make some brown bag burros.

For not planning on doing this at all this weekend, I'm pretty thrilled with the results.

Have any of you tried OAMC yet? I'm happy to answer your questions!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Colossians 1:3 [Look it up!]

I found this note made out of play-doh on the counter a while back. Love that man!

For General Conference/Easter weekend, we spent some time with the Becks. Good food. Good people. Cute kids. What's not to love?

C & I drove up right after the Saturday Afternoon session of conference. C scored some tickets to the Priesthood session, so him and Adam took off for temple square, while me and Emilee held down the fort. with 4 kids 4 and under, it's a blast! We made an upside down German Chocolate cake [recipe coming, I promise!] and sliced strawberries for a yummy Easter breakfast.

The guys came back all uplifted, apparently, because after we went to bed, I woke up to C praying in his sleep. No joke. Start to finish, full-out prayer. He must've been dreaming about food because he blessed "the hands that prepared it" and asked that it would "nourish and strengthen our bodies." He asked that his younger brother would be protected while serving a mission in Canada. He was grateful for the day, the chance we had to watch conference, etc. It was a crack up. After "amen" he was completely silent again, fast asleep. and I burst into a fit of giggles.

We've had a few funny sleeping adventures. Yep, that's the kind of guy I married. The first sleeping adventure, he was quoting scripture. Now, he's praying. Ha. I'll take it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Make Ahead Chicken Tortilla Soup

One of my favorite ways to knock out three meals for the month in about 10 minutes is to make my own mixes. This also saves freezer space, but takes the same amount of time [or less!] to prepare on cooking day.

Make Ahead Chicken Tortilla Soup

Snack Baggie 1:

  • 1 cup of rice [white or brown, you pick! In an effort to be healthier, we'll be opting for brown]

Snack Baggie 2:

  • 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper

  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro leaves

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 cup dried minced onion

Gallon Sized Bag:

  • 1 can of chicken

  • 1 can of corn (15.5 oz)

  • 1 can of tomatoes and green chilis (10 oz)

  • tortilla chips

The How-to:

  1. Label Ziploc Bag

  2. Place Can of Corn & Can of Tomatoes & Green Chilis in bottom of Gallon-Sized Ziploc

  3. Put snack bags next to cans vertically-nice & snug

  4. Put Can of Chicken sideways in top of bag.

  5. Stuff remainder of bag with tortilla chips. Slightly crush them and zip tight!

On Cooking Day

  1. Pour everything except tortilla chips into a pot with 10 cups of water. [Drain the chicken & the corn first!]

  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, & simmer for 20 minutes.

  3. Throw half the chips in, remove from heat, cover for 5 minutes.

  4. Serve with remaining chips.

Making this soup from scratch takes forever because you have all the spices to measure out, but if you make 3 at once... catch my drift?


Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Always Treat Your Woman Like a Lady"

There's a song called Love Like Crazy by Lee Brice. Does it ever shock you how much a song can sound like it was written just for you? The line that hit home last night was "Always treat your woman like a lady."

I am 100% spoiled rotten. C bought us tickets to go see Michael Buble back in December for my graduation present. I don't know how he pulled it off, but we were on the floor, in the 7th row. We paid $85 per ticket, and seats right by us were selling for $400 a piece. That's my man.

To make it even better, C told me to go buy something new to wear, which resulted in these babies:

The best part of marrying a 6'5" babe is that I, in my entire 6'0" glory can wear as big of heels as I want. I absolutely love being his girl!

I got ready before work [lots of hairspray] and no make-up, then changed and did make-up at work because in order to be on time, he had to pick me up at work. When C got there, this is what I saw:

He got a tux! And a corsage for me/boutonniere for him. So handsome.

We listened to Michael Buble all the way up to dinner at an amazing, cute little place called "Kobe." It was the best sushi I have ever had. If you're in the Salt Lake area, go. And make sure you order the Yumyum roll. We were treated so well by the waitress and chefs. Quick service and a gift certificate from here made the entire thing less than $50. I didn't have the foresight to take a picture of the Yumyum roll [our new favorite!] but take a look at these other beauties. [Executive roll-Right & Playboy roll-Left]

We got caught in a freak snow storm and had a little time to kill before the concert, so we drove around for about 20 minutes looking for a fun dessert shop. C almost willingly ran into a stop sign in a parking lot. I can't believe I was articulate enough to scream "stop sign" in my panic. I think that's the first time C has thanked me for screaming during his driving. It was time to get out of the car so we just stopped at a nearby Starbucks for Dark Cherry hot chocolate and biscotti.

At the concert, we found parking real quick and walked into the arena. When finding our seat, we just kept getting closer and closer to the stage. We got to the floor and an usher showed us to our the 7th row!

The opening act was a group called Naturally 7. I've always been a fan of Vocal Point [BYU's a cappella group], but these guys knocked them out of the park. I could've sworn there was a full orchestra accompanying them until they broke down each voice and showed us where each sound was coming from. My favorite was the bass "player." This was their opening number. I highly recommend listening to it.

Michael Buble definitely did not disappoint. He is such a performer! The opening number was Cry Me a River. It has this wild instrumental part at the beginning and he had shadow effects on this huge curtain that coordinated with the music. It reminded me of the orchestra silhouettes on Fantasia. He was charming, personable, and extremely talented. We'll be looking for ways to attend his performances every chance we get!

He even did a little Billie Jean by Michael Jackson. [Just so happens to be my favorite Michael Jackson song. Yes, I know it's about a prostitute. The opening line is "She was more like a beauty queen from a movie scene." Who writes stuff like that? Geniuses.] Perfection was definitely achieved.

I enjoyed his interaction with the audience just as much as his singing! When he was speaking, I couldn't wait to hear what he was going to sing next. When he was singing, I was excited to learn more about him and know what he was going to talk about next.

His performance of "The Best of Me" [originally by David Foster] made me cry. It hit me hard that C is proud of me. He's proud of me. And he planned this night to show me that.

Michael sang the song "Everything," which me and C danced to at our wedding. He sang the song "Home" that got me through my freshman year of college. And then, we listened to him sing "I'm Beginning to See the Light" in the car while we made out, waiting for the parking lots to clear up [the song performed at a concert we attended the night C proposed.] Acting like teenagers isn't always bad. heh.

Thanks, babe, for an incredible evening. You make me feel so beautiful and special and loved. I hope everyone in the world can get the chance to feel the way we do. Thank you for always treating me like a lady and not being "too cool" for the sappy stuff. I love you.