Saturday, January 30, 2010

Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon (WW Version)

Upon receiving a Weight Watchers magazine in the mail this week, I was thrilled to find a Weight Watchers version of Boeuf Bourguignon. It is Julia Child's recipe, with a healthier twist. The original is 17 points, and the WW version is 8. For those of you who aren't familiar with WW speak, 17 points is quite a bit! I have wanted to make this since Troy and I saw the movie Julie & Julia because it looked mouth-watering in the movie!

So, this week, I attempted to make it and succeeded! It wasn't a difficult recipe and I got the roast I used in it for $1.99 a lb! Score! For a little more Europen flair, I served the meal with Orangina, a French baguette, and a spinach salad.

Here is the recipe....enjoy!

Boeuf Bourguignon
(Taken from WW Magazine January/February 2010)

2 lbs bottom round roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 (14 1/2 oz) can low-sodium beef broth
1 c red wine
1 (16-oz) package frozen pearl onions (I used 3 fresh brown onions and it was delish!)
1 (10-oz) package of cremini mushrooms (I couldn't find these, I used brown bella instead)
2 Tbsp tomato paste 4 garlic cloves, chopped 1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme 1 bay leaf 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp black pepper 1 lb carrots, thickly sliced 2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
*I also added 1 bag of Trader Joe's Fingerling Potatoes

1. Toss beef and flour in medium bowl until evenly coated. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat (I don't have one...a large pot with a lid works just fine!). Add beef, in batches if necessary, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl with slotted spoon.
2. Add broth, wine, onions, mushrooms, tomato paste, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, salt, pepper; bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot. Sir in beef and reduce heat. Cover and simmer 1 hour. Stir in carrots (and potatoes, if you are adding them). Cover and simmer until beef and vegetables are fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Serve, sprinkled with parsley.

Friday, January 29, 2010

YouTube Haircut

Ever wish you could cut your boy's (or husband's) hair without clippers? I wanted to cut Jackson's hair with scissors because I wanted to keep it longer than my clippers would allow. Having never cut a boy's hair with just scissors before, I needed direction. Where better to turn than YouTube? I just typed in "How to cut a boy's hair" and BINGO! I found a short video and was instructed on how to do just that in less than three minutes. Click on this link to learn how! A must-have for a toddler's haircut: a tasty sucker!The result: A free haircut! :)

Dad's Birthday

A few weeks ago we celebrated my dad's birthday. We had my family over for pizza and cake. I made a four layer cake just to see if I could stack cake that high without it falling apart. It turns out that its possible. And the best part was it tasted good!

St. George/Zion Trip: Day 2

I have to start out by saying that this is only the third National Park I've been too (I think) and I liked this one the best so far. Zion National Park is absolutely breathtaking! I would love to see what it looks like in the Summer, Spring, and Fall. The snow really accented the depth and detail of the rocks. So, without any further ado, here are the photos from the day:
The entrance to the park.Jackson's first time in the snow. I forgot his mittens in the hotel room, so says he didn't like the snow because it was too cold. Sigh.The family in Zion.Icicles. Gorgeous.
Nolan entertains Madelyn.
Nolan, Troy, Madelyn, and Jackson take a rest in the lodge.More family in Zion!Madelyn with Uncle David. (David is practicing!)Troy and Jackson in a very majestic setting.
Just Troy and I! I love this man! :)The river in Zion National Park.Somehow we ended up at Nelson's Frozen Custard shop again! This time, we got a chocolate malt. Mmmm!A great way to end the day!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Quotable Jackson

The other day Jackson reached into his pockets and upon realizing they were empty, he looked up at me and said, "Mom...I need some money!" What?!? He is only 2! Of course, he thinks that the purpose of money is to throw it in fountains! :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oh, Anxiety!

I am in the habit of being anxious lately. I'm anxious about getting organized because if we organized our time better, I wouldn't be anxious about getting ready for church on time, not having Troy's shirts ironed, not having time to clip coupons before I go grocery shopping, not having time to exercise....anxious about the yard looking terrible after the rain...anxious about making the family's dental appointments...anxious about eating more fruits and veggies...feeding Jackson more fruits and veggies...anxious about getting Madelyn on a nap schedule...or wondering if there is such a thing for her...anxious about....

Well. You get the picture, right? I would say that lately anxiety has ruled most of my life. A million thoughts are going through my mind at any given moment and there seems to be no stopping them. Quick prayers, sometimes outloud in somewhat of a desperate plea for help, are said, but I still am anxious. Then, while catching up on my Bible reading this morning---and I must admit, I felt some anxiety about that too--- I came across this passage. Even though I have read it several times before, the simple advice resounds so fresh and new to me in this moment. I will leave you with the passage because it says everything...

Matthew 6:25-34
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Can Natural Living Become an Idol?

I can across this post today from a blog I read. Its a VERY good here to read more...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

St. George/Zion Trip: Day 1

For New Years "Weekend," our family headed to the South-West corner of Utah. We left the day before the rest of the family left because we wanted to have more time to look around St. George, the town in Utah where we were staying. We got in around 1am, so the next morning, we slept in and got out of the hotel room before noon to explore the town. The first place we headed was a chain that we don't have here in California (and OH how I wish we did!) called Jimmy John's. This was a sandwich shop that makes their own bread and has makes their sandwiches with all-natural ingredients. It was SO delicious. It blew Subway out of the water, although that isn't very hard to do. The next stop was the super Wal-Mart. If there is a Wal-Mart where we are vacationing, we always go there because they always have local stuff and souvenirs. Jackson was alseep when we got there, so we layed a pallet of blankets down in the cart and set up in there. The setup worked because he slept over an hour in the cart! Troy shopped around Wal-Mart while I got my haircut in the salon there. It was the best haircut I've ever gotten for the price...15 bucks! I really needed the haircut, too!
From there we drove around town and stopped at a frozen custard shop. One word: AMAZING! Okay...I can actually provide you with a few more words on this subject: smooth, rich, frozen glory. The best thing about this stuff was that somehow it is less fat than ice cream!After the yummy custard, we went by the Mormon temple in St. George. Legend has it that when it was finished, Brigham Young came to see (and bless) the temple. It had taken a lot of people and work to finish it, but he wanted the steeple to be higher. The builders decided to let it be because tearing it down would be too much work. Soon after, lightning struck the steeple and broke it to the ground. They took it as a sign from God to build a taller steeple. I'm not sure that's what the "sign" meant, though!From there, we met the rest of the family that just arrived in St. George at the Cracker Barrel there. This was the reason why most of the family came to St. George. That's right. The Cracker Barrel! I had a mediocre meatloaf dinner there. That is my favorite thing to get there and I was disappointed. They got to do more than that to win me over! We finished the day up at Cracker Barrel and returned to our hotel room for the adventure awaiting us the next day!

Aunt Melissa, Uncle Troy

I'm somewhat used to being called "Aunt Melissa" because some of our good friend's kids call me that. However, a few months ago, I found out that I am really, yes, really going to be an aunt! David and Robyn are due to have a baby on August 4th, which means she/he will be just shy of a year younger than Madelyn, and 3 years younger than Jackson. I can't believe it took me so long to post this news! I am extremely THRILLED. I didn't have cousins growing up, but Troy did, and his cousins are still A LOT of fun! So, I am very, very excited that Jackson and Madelyn will have a cousin! Congrats, David and Robyn!

The Quotable Jackson

Each week, I'm going to post a quote from Jackson from that week. Mainly, this is so I can remember them, but I am sure you will enjoy them too! This one is from last week:

After Jackson was drawing on his notepad his shapes (he has drawn squares and triangles), Jackson looked at me, sighed, and said, "Mommy, drawing triangles is hard work!"

That made me smile. :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Look!

Do you like it? I do! :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Christmas Day and More

I must admit that have three separate Christmases in one day is very difficult. Instead of feeling relaxed with the family, I felt rushed and stressed. What do all you married people do to spend enough time with both families at Christmas? If there is some sort of trick to it, let me know!

Of course, it didn't help that Jackson, Madelyn, and I were all sick, and Troy wasn't feeling all that well either. But, besides all that, we saw all of both of the families (except for my Grandma Fran...we missed her! And Mike and Gen!) in one day. I wish I had more time with both families. I wish Christmas was officially celebrated over two days, not one! Could we get that changed? :)

Jackson was ecstatic to open gifts. He absolutely loved the idea of getting toys and books, and wasn't so excited about clothes. That's a toddler for you! Although, I was excited about his clothes! Although, I must say, he was very proud to wear his new Thomas pajamas that he got from his GG Teddy. We were very blessed to get all that we received this year. It almost felt weird opening all the gifts because we couldn't afford as much for our families this year. But, it isn't about that really!

Christmas was a bit different for my side of the family this year because Michael wasn't there. Since him and Gen moved to Washington, they couldn't make it down for Christmas. We missed them! But, Jackson was able to open the gift they sent him via video chat. I'm thankful for technology!

I look forward to next Christmas when we aren't so sleep deprived and I can do more of what I wanted to do this season, like the Jesse Tree, a spin on the advent calendar. Here are some more photos from Christmas day....enjoy!

I hope!

Troy and I are both of the "right-brained" creative type. We love the arts and would love our kids to love it. We, of course, won't force it one them, but we are sharing our appreciation of the creative with them. This past week, Jackson was in the living room drawing on his notepad (that he asked for because he wanted to be like Steve in Blue's Clues), and he called out to us, "I drew a triangle! Come and see!" Sure enough, he drew a REALLY good triangle (pictured above), and a right triangle at that! Do 2-year-olds draw triangles normally? Perhaps he will be an artist like his mommy! :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sleep, anyone?

10:15 went to bed (she did..I tossed and turned until...)
11:15 woke up to feed
11:40 went back to bed
2:15 woke up to feed (3!)
2:45 went back to bed
4:40 woke up to feed
5:05 went back to bed
5:15 woke up and cried. Inconsolable . Change diaper. Massaged belly. Got up and walked around with her. (despite my efforts to go prevent Jackson from hearing Madelyn he wakes up and asks for us)
5:50 went to sleep

This is becoming Madelyn's routine every night for a few weeks now, minus the crying. She only cried for a bit the last two nights. Its going to take more than caffeine to get through today. I feel almost as David did when he when he wrote Psalm 142.

"5 I cry to you, O Lord;
I say, 'You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.'
6 Attend to my cry,
for I am brought very low!
Deliver me from my persecutors,
for they are too strong for me!
7 Bring me out of prison,
that I may give thanks to your name!
The righteous will surround me,
for you will deal bountifully with me."

Of course, David was in more of a pickle, but you get the idea! Sleep depravity is no piece of cake. I am keeping in mind that this is just a season. And, in the grand scheme of things, it truly is a short season. But at these wee hours of the morn, it seems long. Very long. I am thankful that the Lord is my portion and that I have more to look to than a cup of coffee to get me through today. Its a good thing, too, because I don't even like coffee!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Christmas in a Flash

Christmas seemed to come and go this season. Here is a bit of an overview!

This was the first year that Jackson was able to take part in the preparation of Christmas. He helped decorate "his" tree with little Peanuts Nativity ornaments. Troy shared all this Peanuts Christmas decorations with Jackson and there were even some he could play with!

Jackson was also able to help with some holiday baking. We pulled a chair up to the counter and he helped me make chocolate brownies and frosting. He was really good at holding the measuring cup while I measured ingredients and helping me stir everything. His specialty, though, was the taste-testing the frosting! I did a lot of "baking" this season. For some reason, I really, really enjoyed it. I found a few recipes that turned out really well. One of my favorites was the Oreo Truffles. They were really rich, but absolutely perfect with a glass of milk! I also made some Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies that were delicious. I suspect these delicious desserts may be the cause of my lack of weight loss this holiday season!

We had a few parties to attend this season. We hosted our 4th Annual Tacky Ski Sweater Caroling Party. That was a success, although, Troy and I were very tired after it and decided to do this tradition every-other year, perhaps. I know all you party-goers would be disappointed to hear that! For this party, everyone (or almost everyone) came to our place sporting their tackiest of tacky sweaters. We had a contest for the tackiest sweaters. Tim and Michelle were our finalist, and Michelle was voted the winner. We also went to a near-by nursing home and sang Christmas Carols. This was my favorite part of the night. I enjoy the smiles and reactions we get from the people in the nursing home.

We also attended our 12th Annual Citrus Group Party. I look forward to this party every year. This is a yearly get-together of the "Citrus Group" (a group of Troy's friends from college) and their wives. This party is always fun because all his friends have really become my friends too. Kimm always does a great job of hosting! We ate dinner, talked, laughed, cried (well only some of the kids, who will remain nameless). The kids decorated gingerbread men (Thanks, Tess!). We also had a gift exchange and the kids had a used book exchange. All together, as it is every year, it was great fun!

The Mission Inn
Every year, we try to make it to the Mission Inn to look at the beautiful light display there. This year, we actually made it to the lighting of the Mission Inn! We went with Joey and Kirsty and met both of our families down there. Jackson really enjoyed the fireworks. We also had the opportunity to go down to the Mission two more times with friends. Every year it seems there are more lights up! Apparently,
there was over three and a half million lights on the Mission Inn for the 2009 Festival of Lights. Amazing! The only critique I have for the Festival of Lights is that they keep their stores in the downtown mall open later! We were trying to find a place to eat around 7pm on a weeknight and every restaurant was closed! It seems to me that they are missing out on a lot of business!

It has become somewhat of a tradition to give our families framed photos of us for Christmas. This time around, I wanted the photos to be special and creative, so I asked my brother-in-law, David to take them. They turned out well! I'm posting some of my favorites. To wrap the framed photos, I purchased a roll of plain brown paper for 25 cents, and a set of finger paints from Target. I rolled the paper out on the floor, put the paint on paper plates, put Jackson in some old clothes, and let him have a go at decorating the paper himself. I loved to see his creative side come out! He got paint all over himself, me, the kitchen floor, and, of course, the wrapping paper. It was well worth it because each recipient of a photo frame also got a little masterpiece from Jackson! I may make this a tradition as well!

The holiday season is always a fun time to get together with extended family. Troy's aunt and uncle from Missouri came down for a visit the week of Christmas. We had a blast going to their favorite sandwich shop, D'elias Grinders, which, I'm going to say has wonderful sandwiches, my favorite being the Chicken BLT. Its always a treat to go there!
We also went to Logan's Candy Shop where we saw candy canes being made. This was very interesting to watch and we got fresh, warm samples at the end of the tour. I will never eat a cold candy cane again! (I hope Angie doesn't mind, I borrowed the photo from her blog!)


Madelyn's first Christmas dress...sweet!

Christmas Day

Sorry folks...Christmas Day deserves a blog post of it's own, so I will post that ASAP! :)