The stories of an engineer, a stay-at-home mom, a crazy little boy and a girl who's full of spice.

Monday, May 27, 2013

And so it begins....

We took all of the rugs out of the living room for a while. This little girl is getting ready to go potty. She asks to go all the time and usually insists wearing underwear over her diaper so I decided to let her try. It took some convincing to get her to sit down on the potty (someone has been watching her brother too much). Hopefully this goes smoothly... After all, I followed my own advice, go when your child is ready not when you are.

Monday, May 6, 2013


We had the most amazing trip this Spring! We left just in time to miss the last big snow storm in North Dakota and it was just what we needed! We left on Vaughn's birthday. Hopefully I will figure out how to post some of my camera pictures soon but until then, I had to just use the pictures from my phone. 

We started out by going to Northern California where we got to visit my aunt, uncle, cousin and grandma. It was wonderful. They took great care of us and it was so nice to catch up. It was cool and windy but for us it still felt like paradise. Rosalie is like a fish and loves the water. She doesn't want to be held and pushes whoever is holding her away saying, "let me go". She is going to get swim lessons ASAP! I wish we were somewhere where it wasn't mission impossible to get into a swim class.

We stayed in 6 hotels on the trip and it was pretty hectic moving around. The kids got used to riding on top of all our luggage at each place. And see that awesome pack-n-play? We lugged it around the whole trip and paid $50 to check-it on the plane only to have Rosalie refuse to sleep in it. I think I should take it out of her allowance when she is 15, what do you think?
Since we stayed in so many hotels I definitely have favorites to recommend. Marriot tops our list as the best one we stayed at. At Disneyland we stayed at the Park Vue Inn across the street. It was super inexpensive but smelled awful. It served it's purpose though so stay there if you are planning a Disneyland vacation. They serve breakfast and will give you water bottles to take to the park with you. Also, LegoLand just became a resort so they have a hotel. We stayed there and it was only their second week open. It was an amazing hotel for kids and a little annoying for parents/grandparents. It was so fun though. The kids loved it and could have stayed there all day so it was worth it. The meals at the hotel are pricey so prepare yourself for that. $25/person for breakfast?!?!?!

Disneyland was Disneyland. It was everything you expect and hope for. I had never been to California Adventure and I always thought it was a teenage type park but they have updated it since I was last there and it was great! We definitely spent more time at Disneyland but there were some amazing things at California Adventure that made the Park Hopper ticket worth it....Lots of little kid rides and a Disney Junior show that will rock your toddler's socks off. Cars Land (from the movie "Cars") is awesome but overcrowded. We spent two days at the two parks and it was just right for us. We didn't get to it all but were exhausted after the two days and couldn't imagine doing another one. 

This was the world's largest tumbleweed! I thought we only had those in Wyoming? It was right next to the world's largest oilfield. At least it looked like that to us. We are oil field folks and we had never seen so many well heads so close together and as far as we could see. Pretty amazing for those of us who see it every day. 

Legoland was very knight/princess oriented. Especially at the hotel where they have a giant castle built entirely out of Legos that the kids can run around in. (And a Lego dragon guarding the entrance.) They give the kids all the Legos, shields and swords they want to play with but of course you have to buy them if you want to take them home. Surprisingly, the souvenirs at LegoLand were not incredibly overpriced and we went home with a certifiable knight and a real princess. 
I can't believe that is the end of my pictures! I will have to bore you with more later. This vacation was so wonderful. If you are ever going I would be happy to give you the tips that I have. It was magical! And luckily the weather since we've been back has been pretty good. I love my life!!! (Not that the quality of my life depends on the weather but it helps!)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Update 2013

I figured it was time for an update! The past few months have flown by in a whirlwind! Rosalie turned 2! We got a puppy. Then it was Thanksgiving. Then Christmas. And the most important holiday of the year, my birthday!!!

Our new puppy
 My parents came to stay for Rosalie's birthday and Thanksgiving. It was so great to see them (it had been a long time since we had visited)! While my mom was here we went to the pet store to buy some crickets for our frog and came home with a puppy! I love her so much but most days I still wonder what I was thinking! It really is like having a newborn human in the house! Potty training has been very taxing and trying. She loves the kids though and cuddles up with me every night which makes up for any flaws! Look at that cute face! I am ready to be out of the puppy stage though. How long does it last?

The Jordan's with Santa at Spring Lake Park
 Before Christmas we went to a friends birthday party at a local park. They set up a huge Christmas light show there. This night they also had activities inside with Santa and Mrs. Claus! They also had a horse and buggy ride which pulled us around the park to look at the lights. It may or may not have been the coldest I've ever felt! Luckily, Vaughn and I survived and had a blast. Little things like this make me feel so blessed to live here. It is a great town and great community. Although we thought we would be moving for a couple months, now we know we will be here at least another year and I am pretty excited about it!
Vaughn and Rosalie on Christmas morning
Vaughn and Rosalie (and the rest of us) were pretty spoiled this Christmas! I tried not to go overboard but I only half succeeded! My parents came again as well as my aunt. It was such a great few days! The love felt this holiday was almost as tangible as all the gifts given and received.
I am sure that I have a lot of things I could work on this coming year but I decided that if 2013 is exactly like 2012 then I will be happy. So, with that said, I am dedicated to loving (and probably spoiling) my kids. Having a great friendship/relationship with my husband. Keeping family and friends close to us (if not physically then every other way possible). I hope that you all have a fabulous year! Hopefully I will update more often and I can share some of the fabulous recipes I have been cooking!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Zuppa Tuscana

This soup promised to be a copy-cat of the Olive Garden soup that I have had on many occasions. Even better, it was a crock-pot recipe so I knew it would be relatively easy. Unfortunately, it fell short of my expectations.
Here is the original recipe:

zuppa toscana
Get Crocked's Zuppa Tocana

I was pretty excited about it when I got started. I got fancy sausage from a local grocery story which has amazing meat (and baked goods, but that's for another post). As soon as I started cooking I knew there would be a problem. Her recipe lacks direction. And I HATE when you have a recipe with an ingredient (i.e. bacon) but then it doesn't tell you about it in the steps. It makes me really mad.

My Zuppa Tocana
I followed her directions pretty closely. I used kale and boxed chicken broth instead of canned. I also reduced the cream by half and doubled the kale. I know that you are probably thinking that this is why it wasn't as good but I promise it is not. The broth was flavorless. The whole dish tasted like sausage and it wasn't enough dimension for me. Also, it needed to cook for longer than she recommended. Finally, I would recommend that you cook the onions and garlic BEFORE adding them to the crock-pot. I know this adds an extra step but that would really help with the flavor. I may try it one more time but I will probably look up another recipe and try to combine the two.
I wish every recipe could be as good as the previous two. I thought I was on a roll!
Let me know if you try it!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Crispy Cheddar Chicken

Let me start by saying that is recipe is not something I would normally try. Cream of Chicken soup and Ritz Crackers just don't usually make me think of a delicious meal. I don't think I am snobby about it, just not used to those ingredients. But Pinterest promised things like, "the best chicken you will ever eat." "Say goodbye to whining at dinner time." "Your family will fight over the leftovers." I am sucker for good advertising! Those comments won me over!

 Here is the original recipe:
crispy cheddar chicken
Jamie Cooks it Up Version
I am the first to admit that this recipe does not hit all 3 of my categories with flying colors...I give it only a few stars for healthy - I mean it is baked instead of fried and you don't have to use any extra fat to get a golden brown crispy crust (of course, that is because the cheese has enough oil to do the job for you). As far as ease goes - this one surpasses almost every other dish I cook. It probably took me all of ten minutes to prepare. And it was super tasty! In fact, we had a few friends over and they all agreed that it was delicious. They compared it to Chicken Cordon Bleu (except it was much easier)!
I had the leftovers for lunch and I think that they were better the first time around but it wasn't bad the second time. So, here is my take on the recipe:

My version.
 It doesn't look quite as pretty as hers but I think it was just as yummy. First off, I marinated the chicken in the buttermilk, salt and pepper. It makes your chicken tender and juicy and ensures each piece is super coated! Then, I read the comments on her blog and everyone suggested that you mix the crackers and cheese instead of doing them separately. I did that and I agree it was a lot easier. A lot of the comments said that her recipe had too much cheese/crackers but I didn't find this to be true. I coated my chicken pretty thick and sprinkled the few tablespoons left over on top of the chicken. I didn't have parsley so I used Italian seasoning and also added some garlic and onion powder. These added a little flavor but I think next time I would use cayenne pepper or something to give a little more kick. Her cooking time was perfect! My chicken came out just how I like it. Also, on the bottom of the pan there is this cheesy crunchy layer that is soooo good. Maybe even my favorite part of the dish.
Reluctantly, I decided to try the gravy she suggests. First off, I thought it was too thick (do I sense a recurring problem with me and sauces?). I thinned it out with some chicken stock and added a lot of black pepper. I still didn't really like it but all the men at the table liked it. I preferred mine with the leftover slap-yo-mama ranch from the egg rolls! My friend, Aspen, made some delicious baked sweet potato fries which also went great with the ranch.
I feel like I should add that you don't need any sauce for this chicken. It is pretty great all on its own!
So there you have it! Recipe #2. It gets my stamp of approval. So far Pinterest has a pretty good record with recipes! Let me know if you try it!

Fine print: I almost ALWAYS cook with chicken tenderloins rather than chicken breasts. I buy them in frozen bags from the store. When I am not sure how much to cook I use this formula - Men = 4 tenders, Women = 2 tenders, and kids = 1 tender. Last night we had Guy (4), Kort (4), Me (2), Aspen (2), Vance (1), Vaughn (1), Porter (1), and Rosalie (1) so I made 16 tenders. I had 2 leftover. For me that is the perfect amount!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pinterest...the cooking version

So lately I feel like I have been in a cooking rut. I cook the same general recipes over and over again. While I admit that a good pasta soothes my soul, my family is a little sick of it. And it is never fun to cook a meal and have so many leftovers that you feel like you are the reason for starving children in China. I know when I cook a good meal because there are hardly any leftovers left (and the ones that are left quickly get snatched up for lunch {and sometimes breakfast} the next day). So I asked myself, why am I wallowing in the sorrows of my leftovers when Pinterest has posts every day promising me and my family the best {insert recipe name} we have ever tasted?
Well fret no more! I am on a mission to cook these meals and report to my fellow cookers!
You may or may not know that I live on the edge. The edge of the United States that is. There are not a lot of good places to eat up here and the places that we do have are mobbed with grimy, greasy, single men. One of the restaurants I miss from Cheyenne is Chili's. I couldn't tell you much about their menu except for the sinfully delicious Southwestern Eggrolls and the equally delicious {put it in a cup and drink it with a straw} Avocado Ranch. So when I saw a recipe for a baked version I quickly pinned it. It's probably been over a year but I finally tried it. Here is the link to the original recipe:
Cake and Dallie's Eggrolls
It looks delicious, right? I have three categories that a meal must meet if it is going to make it in the rotation (which is really just a sticky note inside my cabinet). First, it has to taste good. If it doesn't then I might as well forget it forever. Second, it must be somewhat healthy. Vegetables are good. Baked instead of fried helps. Can I use low fat instead of regular? Third, it must be relatively easy. I get burned out if I am trying to be a Michelin Chef every night.
This recipe got five stars in every category!!! Ok, I changed the recipe quite a bit but I will get to that in a second. My family (and our friend, Robert) inhaled the eggrolls. Vaughn even asked for one for dessert. Plus, they are relatively healthy!
Here is what mine looked like:

My Eggrolls, too bad I didn't get a picture of the ranch.
Please take note of my fancy food styling!
So since I was making this for dinner and not an appetizer I added one pound of ground chicken which I cooked first. Also, I doubled all of the spices that she used. It was pretty bland before I did that. The corn I used was a Southwestern mix that was fire roasted and had peppers in it. Yum! I also added a LOT of cilantro. But her base recipe was pretty solid. The Avocado Ranch, however, was another story. I made it just like she suggested then tasted it. It was thick and super mayonnaisey and grossed me out a little bit. So I added a lot more buttermilk (to get to a consistency I could stomach) and a tablespoon out of a ranch packet. I was getting closer to Chili's version but it wasn't there yet. More lemon juice...not quite there. Then I threw in the rest of my cilantro. That did the trick! I don't know how close it tasted to Chili's but the end product was something I would drink (it was pretty green though so Vaughn wouldn't touch it). I had the final 3 eggrolls for lunch today and I think they were even better the second day!

Fine print: There were 19 eggroll wrappers in my package. I filled them all and only had a minimal amount of filling left. I filled them pretty full. The texture of the wrapper would be better fried but it still satisfied my craving.

If you try this recipe let me know! If you have a recipe you love or one you have been dying to try, tell me so I can try it too!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Perfect Summer Day

After a stressful vacation we were ready for a break. Today provided the perfect opportunity. The weather was sunny but not too hot. We reunited with our best friends and had a picnic at the park/splash pad! Thank goodness that life at home is so good because mama won't be vacationing for awhile. (Until next week when we go back to Rosalie's doctor in Denver).

I am pretty sure that this picture says summer more than any other. This girl and I seriously bonded last week. I feel so blessed to have her around and to get to see her awesome personality all day long. She really is amazing.
These two boys drive their dads crazy with their hand holding but I just can't get enough of it. Some days they seem more like brothers than friends. Today they were so happy to be back together and enjoyed every minute of it!
P.S. Did you hear that Guy is going to CHINA! He is quite the international businessman! I am now taking visitors throughout September to keep me company while he is gone. Come on, I know you have all been dying to come to North Dakota!