Thursday, September 19, 2013

Comparison is the Thief of Joy, and Other Mommy Lessons

I haven't had much to say over these last few months. Or... maybe I have, but I am just to sheepish and ashamed to admit of what has been coming to mind. Regardless, I thought with today's news from today's doctor's appointment that it was time to break my silence.

Disclaimer: what I am about to type has been particularly painful for me. I've thought for months about how I want to blog concerning my pregnancy, and have kept mum with concern for offending someone. I have many friends and acquaintances that I know would L-O-V-E to be in my position, and I want them, as well as anyone else reading this to know that I am in no way trying to hurt anyone's feelings. Please do not take my words as my attempt at making light of any of your situations. I want you to know, I am thankful for my pregnancy. I love this little man that my body is bringing into this word, and I am so thankful for him, as well as for the closeness and new level of intimacy it has brought to my marriage. I am not trying to make light of this wonderful miracle that I am lucky enough to have in my life, but instead am just trying to get my frustrations out, and see if anyone else can relate to my issues. Again, I'm sorry.

All right, with all of that being said, let's just get right down to it: pregnancy is awful. I know you've heard that and have seen it in various movies and books, but it is so true, and I wouldn't have believed it until I experienced it for myself. I think too often when I try to express my frustrations with growing a human, women around me want me to sweep my anger under a rug and keep it hidden, but I can't do it anymore. Pregnancy is the hardest thing I have ever experienced.

I am very lucky this is the worst thing my body has encountered, I know that, and I thank God in daily prayer for that. But I have hit every symptom and milestone in pregnancy thus far, and I have to tell you- I AM SICK AND TIRED OF IT.

My first trimester was stereotypical- I was sicker than a dog for weeks. Which I know a lot of women say, but I think I was above average. For seven weeks or so, I literally could not go through a day without throwing up at least twice. Nothing smelled good or tasted good. I would force myself to eat, and usually, the only thing that would stay down is greasy McDonald's fries, which of course brought on a whole new level of "mommy guilt." I spent those weeks stressed, worried about the health of my baby, and trying my very hardest not to vomit in front of my entire fourth grade class. I think I tricked most people into believing I was actually healthier than I was- the only person who was lucky enough to really see how bad it was was my husband. There were a couple of weeks that were particularly bad, to the point that we were inches from jumping into the car to head to the E.R. for emergency fluids. One vivid Sunday, I distinctly recall throwing up a whopping 16 times, and from that day forward, I have been unable to eat anything remotely related to Taco Bell (that chicken quesadilla seemed like such a good idea at the time). There are certain songs (Suit and Tie, anything Skrillex) that I can't hear or smells I can't smell (Bath and Body Works Honeysuckle) without becoming overwhelmingly nauseous, all thanks to their association with that particular time in my pregnancy. And don't even get me started on chili dogs or chocolate milk or Sprite... or saltines.

Fortunately, that period stopped with my second trimester. Unfortunately, that was also the time my husband moved to Chicago and I went through the worst ups-and-downs of my life. My weight started to skyrocket, since I could actually eat again. Very early on, I had to switch to maternity clothing, thereby bringing my self-esteem even lower. For someone who has such difficult body image issues to begin with, pregnancy is NOT very friendly and forgiving. Watching my weight drastically increase from week to week was becoming so hard, my husband INSISTED I hide our scale until after the pregnancy is over, and it has stayed hidden. Prior to this week, I think the weight gain has been the hardest thing I have had to deal with, which has sent me on another "mommy guilt" downward spiral.

I can't tell you how many articles and blogs I've read about little Utah mommies who gain an absolute minimum amount of weight, and then shed it all magically right after the baby is born. Or moms who manage to stay active, running three to four miles a day, and finding the time and money to put together healthy pregnancy smoothies and salads. For someone who has gained XX lbs. (I'm not ready to divulge that number just yet, it fills my eyes with tears just acknowledging it) and has seen her pregnancy pants become tighter and tighter, none of these articles are helping. I have often spent days in bed (not an exaggeration) just wondering what I have done wrong to gain so much weight, thereby allowing the guilt of worrying about MY OWN IMAGE completely crush the wonder that I am bringing another human into this world. For every guilty, negative-self image thought I have, I am completely overwhelmed by how selfish I have become. It is the worst kind of vicious circle, one that continually defeats me.

I think where this becomes the most disheartening, however, are the medical issues I've started to encounter this week. On Monday, I had my 37 week appointment. Stephen and I were both excited to hear if we were beginning to make any progress towards early labor (without getting too graphic, I've started to see "progression" with practice contractions these last few weeks). Unfortunately, that excitement turned very quickly as soon as my nurse took my blood pressure. According to both she and my doctor, my levels were looking high. I have done everything in my power to try to combat such a thing from happening- since my second trimester, I have been working out about 4 times a week for 45 minutes to an hour, as well as trying to watch what I eat. Sure, I haven't been overly careful about getting all of the whole grain/vegetable/fruit/quinoa crap that everyone is into with pregnancy these days (yeah, I'm sorry, but those things just don't sound good!), but I have been very careful about not overindulging, especially with my weight issues. Even with all of that, my blood pressure was high, and as of today, it is still rising. Now, on top of all the guilt I had with my selfish self-esteem issues, I am trying to sort through my guilt of somehow letting my blood pressure become so high.

Luckily, the blood pressure issues we're seeing are not preeclampsia. I have had a couple of friends combat their way through that complication, and it sounds like it can be particularly scary. Instead, I have been diagnosed with gestational hypertension. Essentially what this means is that I have high blood pressure induced by my pregnancy, as my pressure has never been this high prior to pregnancy. In addition to seeing my OBGYN weekly (as is normal with being this close to the end of my pregnancy), I also get to see a high risk OBGYN to keep tabs on my blood pressure, as well as my baby's progression. Since I escaped preeclampsia, I also escaped our Monday, September 23rd labor induction my OBGYN was ready to schedule, just in case. Instead, we are scheduling an induction for Sunday night, October 6th, which is just around my due date anyways, so no big deal. The only change we might see is if my health or the baby's health takes a turn, in which my doctor said we'll induce immediately, or if I naturally go into labor myself.

So what have I learned from all of this?

  • I hate being pregnant.
  • I hate that as a pregnant woman, I am expected to grin and bare everything, and just be thankful for my little miracle.
  • I hate how the media hypes up pregnancy. I feel awful for all the things I said about Kim Kardashian (of all people) and her weight gain. Serious weight gain in pregnancy is just part of the package deal. It's going to happen- I think some women are just luckier than others.
  • I also hate how the media hypes up postpartum weight loss. Seriously? You're expecting women who have gained an enormous amount of weight in such a short amount of time to shed it all within months of giving birth? Shame on you.
  • I hate how guilty I feel for having these feelings, I also hate that I even HAVE these feelings.
  • I hate that everyone wants to compare their pregnancy to mine. Honestly, I don't mind talking about how we differ- what makes me crazy is when I hear "Oh, but my pregnancy was so easy!" or even worse, "but isn't it worth it for what your body is creating?" I don't know how many times I've had to explain how happy I am to be the vessel for my little man, just how much I hate everything that comes with it. Stop making me feel guilty.
  • I hate having swollen ankles, swollen fingers, and a swollen face. 
  • I hate how my big girl pregnancy pants aren't fitting well anymore.
  • I hate wondering what people are saying about how I look. I know I've gained weight, why do you think I haven't been posting pictures on Facebook?
  • I hate having no energy.
  • I hate being unable to sleep because I have to pee, he's kicking me violently from the inside, or it feels like my uterus is about to pop.
  • I hate having "practice contractions." Just bring on the real ones, and let's get this over with.
  • I hate how guilty society makes me feel for wanting a medicated delivery. Bring on the epidural, I know I'm a big baby.
  • I hate feeling guilty for not making my own baby food. That's weird.
  • I hate how judgy everyone gets when you talk about breastfeeding. Uh, my breasts, my decision MAN.
  • I also hate how much I compare myself to everyone and everything. I can't tell you how many times I have seen a picture of a friend of mine on Facebook, who has stayed teeny-tiny and adorable throughout her pregnancy, and instead of feeling happy for her, I feel miserable for myself. Or how many times one of my friends has blogged about her pregnancy workout routine and I've felt guilty about only accomplishing a two mile walk instead of a four mile run. 
The following is true:

The most important lesson I've learned through all of this is to just let go- the chips will fall where they may, and I can safely say that I have done everything I can to bring about the best possible outcome I can. It isn't my fault I have been diagnosed with GH, my doctor kept reassuring me with that over and over again. I have done everything I can to bring a healthy baby into this world. My only responsibility now is to LET THIS GO- I am done comparing myself to everyone and everything around me. I will be happy for those women who gain 20 pounds, as well as those that gain 70. I will applaud a mother for taking the time to make sure her diet stays gluten free during her pregnancy- that just isn't me. I will mentally high five those who can Zumba until a week before they give birth, when every time I try to dance, it feels like my uterus is going to fall out through my pants. I will welcome opinions, smile, and nod my head, and then go about doing what I was originally going to do. 

But best of all, I will soak in all of the craziness of these last few weeks of pregnancy. If all goes according to my October 6th induction, I only have 17 more days with this little man. I will embrace that my body has done what it is meant to do. I have somehow taken my husband's genes and my own, and combined them to make a whole new person. I will relish every little kick, knowing that my son is showing me that he's still healthy and growing. I will be thankful that I am only suffering from gestational hypertension, and nothing worse. I will be grateful that my son gets to continue to grow instead of be plucked early from me. There is nothing more humbling than pregnancy, and for that, I am grateful.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The OTHER B-I-G Announcement...

I haven't blogged in a while. It's not that I don't have any news- In fact, I would say that everyday something changes, for the good or the bad. Instead, I just know that most of you would prefer to be in the dark concerning my pregnancy ups and downs. You've all read the blogs and books about what pregnancy is REALLY like, and I concur- there is NOTHING glamorous about growing another human being. At 24 weeks, I am praying that the next 111 days my pregnancy calculator is predicting I have ahead of me go VERY quickly, and that our little sport decides to re-position himself out of my lower back and kidneys (please and thank you, little one!) as soon as possible. 

Instead, I'm here to finally reveal where Stephen and I are setting up house and home for the next little while. Most of our friends and family already know, but Steve's company has stressed that we not let this become common knowledge until we're already there. Which, as you all know, is nearly impossible for me! I feel like I would be doing everyone an injustice if I don't blab about our new home. Plus, I've had so many of my internet friends ask... so I'll do this discreetly. 

As of next Monday, Stephen and I will be, once again, packing up and moving across country. And I mean, ACROSS THE COUNTRY. To a region I never thought I would find myself visiting, much less LIVING in. Due to the "secrecy" I have to exhibit, I'll just give you this hint... and fill you in when we're actually there and I am at a liberty to discuss our delicate living situation. Ha ha ha. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


This is our week of big changes. The time has finally come for Stephen to start his job, so it comes with a slightly heavy heart that we'll be moving out of our first place this week. I'll stress SLIGHTLY. It isn't that I've hated living here in Orem: like I said earlier, I have surprisingly learned to love living in Utah. We have quite a few family members nearby, the shopping is fantastic, the food is great, my job is the best I could've asked for! What I WON'T miss is our apartment living experience.

I loved living in an apartment in college. I had a close friend from the teaching department and one of the closest friends I could've asked for living with me at the time in a cozy, outdated apartment. We were "lucky" enough to have our own washer and dryer, two separate bathrooms, and the most... spirited young men living below us that we got close to. Every night we were up late, every morning up early, and at that time, it didn't matter! Now, IT DOES. I can't tell you what an AWFUL decision it was for Stephen and I to choose an apartment so close to UVU. We have at least three groups of college-aged kids living around us, which wouldn't bug me if they didn't spend most evenings screaming and running up and down the stairwells at all hours of the night. It's not even like they're breaking any sort of noise ordinance either, so I really don't feel like I have any grounds to go out and yell at them, but seriously. I'm awake by five, out the door by 6:30, and yeah, some nights I'm out by 9. If you think I want to hear you chase your girlfriend up and down the stairwell at 11, you've got another thing coming.

Ugh. My age is showing.

Not to mention the little dogs living on all sides of us. The pot smokers living below us... which didn't bother me in college, OBVIOUSLY, but now that I've figured out that they're smoking in their laundry room, I wish they'd knock it off. The vents are directly connected between our two apartments, so needless to say, their smoke makes their way into OUR laundry room. I don't appreciate teaching in marijuana-smelling clothing, na'mean?!

ANYWAYS, we're ready to move. I'm spending this week packing up our belongings while Stephen starts to square away his end of the term. We're moving in with my amazing sister-in-law Lisa and her equally awesome husband and two girls, and then Stephen will be leaving me a week later to move to Chicago to begin his training with his new company. We'll be separated until I am done teaching, so I get to spend a couple months alone. It'll be a little like dating again, which I'm not looking forward to, but it'll all be worth it once he officially starts his job. We still don't know where the company will be putting us permanently, but in the mean time, keep your fingers crossed it's some place warm! I'm over the cold and the snow!

Lots of changes coming, I'll be sure to try to keep you all in the loop (better than I have been). For now, best Easter wishes to all of you! Love, love, love!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

... And a Happy New Year

Whoa. Whoa whoa whoa. I can't even believe how long it's been since I last bothered to post. A lot has come and gone since my last update. I THINK I finally reached my 100th recipe. My thoughts on Utah have changed completely. I have the best job with the best kids. I have the best husband a woman could ask for. AND... I am moving. Again.


Yeah, it's official: I love Utah. I hate admitting it, for all the bad mouthing and anti-LDS sentiment people slew at this state, but it's awesome. Great restaurants, great shopping, beautiful scenery, and there is so much to do! I can't get over waking up every morning and having the gorgeous Wasatch Mountains practically in my backyard. Never mind my amazing job!

I never knew how much I truly loved teaching until I was no longer a teacher. The last two years in XXXXXX, no matter how thankful I am for the experience and grateful I am for the position, were exhausting. Every day was a minor struggle- my students acted like they hated being in class, hated doing their homework, and were more concerned with what they were going to be talking about on their highly-inappropriately-aged Facebook pages that night after school. Parent involvement was next to nothing. I had a 50% guarantee that these adults were even going to show up to their conference. Yet through all of these struggles, I was still expected to come to school and improve test scores AND student morale. How do you help children and adults who don't want to help themselves?

I thought my time working at that particular dot com company in Provo would be a welcomed change. It wasn't. There was nothing more depressing and exhausting than making phone call after phone call day after day to either reach the message machine of a particular university or be flat out turned down due to budget issues. Sales prospecting just wasn't my thing. Even though I was considered successful (since I was able to set up a couple of meetings on most days), I never saw the results. When I left the company, there were only a few of my appointments that were being set into actual deals, and NONE of them had gone through yet. Talk about anti-climatic!

My teaching job in Sandy was exactly what I had been praying for. I had literally hit rock bottom when the opportunity fell into my lap. One night after another curse-filled tirate, my husband kindly suggested I try looking for a teaching job again. Upon looking online, I found a very generic posting online searching for a person to cover a "teaching position" if one should open in this particular district. IF ONE SHOULD OPEN. I honestly don't even know why I bothered, since the school year had already started two weeks earlier. About a week after putting in my resume, I received a phone call asking me to meet with the director of HR for an interview, "just to get to know me." It still didn't sound promising, but I went anyway.

The interview was awesome, and just what I needed. I couldn't believe how good it felt just to "talk shop" with someone in the field I was trained to be a part of. We talked classroom management, lesson planning, technology integration, all the things I missed! At the end of the interview, she shook my hand, and let me know that there was a position opening up for an emergency fourth grade hire she thought I was perfect for. I was set up to talk with the principal at a local elementary school, and from there, it was a complete whirlwind!

Following my interview on Monday, I was hired on that following Wednesday, went to Parent/teacher night on Thursday to be introduced to the parents, and then was asked to report on Monday for training, observations, and classroom set-up. I couldn't be happier with the situation: I was helping to lessen the load for the two fourth grade teachers already at the school. Each class had about 33 students, and I was to take 21 of those students to my classroom. I was being placed in the largest portable I had ever seen, with five bright windows, and all the space to get loud and crazy that I needed! No old items to move from one classroom to another, nothing to have to go through and sort through. Just a clean slate! Oh my goodness, and my kids! 21 of the sweetest children I've met. Most are eager to be there, turn in their homework on time, and their parents are excited to help however they can. The one's who aren't, TRY. They really do want to do better. Talk about a breath of fresh air!

Now, here's where it gets interesting: I'm moving AGAIN. Stephen finally has made up his mind concerning his future, and we've decided to postpone medical school. It just hit us one day that once Steve was done with school, residency, rotations, all of that good stuff, we'd be in our mid-thirties. Considering we want to start a family also BEFORE then, we'd need to find a way to get into a comfortable situation sooner than that. With all of that being said, Stephen just accepted a position with a Chicago-based company specializing in audiology. He'll be flying out to the Midwest for three months for training, and then will be placed ANYWHERE in the country for his "residency." We could end up in Chicago, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, etc.

Am I scared? Yep, a little. I never thought I'd be moving to Utah, much less any place else in the country. Plus, I've learned to love our little home in Orem. I have a fabulous job, but luckily, it isn't a position guaranteed for me next year, which makes moving a little easier. I guess it's just time to have faith again, and to realize that where ever we're sent, there is a reason for it. It's time for another Baird Adventure! I'll just have to keep you posted about where we'll end up!

Phew! That's an update. Here's a list of the other recipes I have tried:

#79: Melt in Your Mouth M&M Sugar Cookies-

#80: Ham and Cheese Sliders-

#81: Lemon Burst Cake Mix Cookies-

#82: Pepperoni Pizza Quesadillas-

#83: Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches-

#84: Baked Oatmeal Casserole-

#85: Cake Mix Cinnamon Waffles with Cinnamon Roll Glaze-

#86: Thick and Fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes-

#87: Chicken and Broccoli Noodle Casserole-

#88: Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread-

#89: Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps-

#90: Bow Tie Skillet Lasagna-

#91: Potato Bacon Breakfast Casserole-

#92: Crockpot Barbecue Chicken-

#93: Baked Cheesy Chicken Penne-

#94: Wingers Sticky Fingers Quesadilla-

#95: Pizza Bites-

#96: Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies-

And THAT... is why Steve and I are going on a diet again!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Mas Pollo! Recipes #76-78

I miss Washington. I miss Cougar Football games. REAL COUGAR football games. I miss being surrounded by other WSU fans. But most of all... I miss teaching.

I was having a real "Woe-is-me" kind of week last week. The kind where you have to force yourself out of bed and to work, try not to cry when you get denied for the fiftieth time on a prospecting call, walk-of-shame your way out of the stadium following the WSU/BYU game. So I decided to cook, and bake, and find the things that I have loved about married life so far. Because sometimes that's all you can do to keep your head afloat.

So what do I love about life right now?

1. I love my husband. I love how much love he shows me. I love that he appreciates my quirks, compliments me constantly, and gives me hugs to wake me up in the morning. He is the best.
2. I love family coming to visit.
3. I love my birthday, and all the love I was shown this week! [the big 2-6. Bleck.]
4. I love cooler weather, new sweaters, and riding boots.
5. I love my new set of curlers, and the volume my hair has now.
6. I love that my husband tries to love watching old episodes of The O.C. as much as I do.
7. I love replacing my summer Scentsy scents with Warm Apple Pie.
8. I love that Halloween decorations are coming into the stores.
9. I love surprise interviews [shhhhh...]
10. I love that my husband is almost done with this MCAT madness.
11. I love XBOX Kinect dancing games.
12. I love Friday night sushi dates.
13. I love the Republican National Convention... and Ann Romney.
14. I love sleeping in.

I also love the following recipes. I needed more chicken in my life... so I found some awesome chicken recipes. Enjoy!

Recipe #76: Honey-Dijon Chicken Tenders with Zucchini Rice (as found on

Yes. That is MY actual dinner.


1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. paprika
3 tbsp. butter, melted
heaping 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced vertically into strips


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a large baking sheet and set aside.
      - Seriously, coat that sheet in oil, or everything WILL stick to it. Consider yourself warned.

2. In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, Dijon mustard and honey; whisk until well combined.

3. Place the chicken strips into the mustard-butter mixture, then into the breadcrumbs. Coat evenly. Place onto the baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the zucchini rice (see below for recipe).


1 cup long-grain white rice
1 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
3 tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper, to taste


1.Cook rice according to package directions. 
     - A special shout out to the Roberts family for buying us THE BEST rice cooker in the world... and for my Korean missionary husband. Seriously, I've never had such great rice.

2.Remove from heat, add butter and sprinkle zucchini over the rice. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork. Salt and pepper, to taste.
     - Also, a separate shout out to Mindy for her awesome zucchinis she gave us. Now, I just have to find a recipe to use the other GIGANTIC zucchinis we have,,,

This was a great recipe. A little much for two people though. I think Stephen had lunch for a solid two days after this dinner, which works for me... plus, I'm sure he's tired of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We dipped ours in honey dijon mustard, and a combination of BBQ sauce and Frank's Red Hot Sauce. So good.

Recipe #77: Oreo Pudding Poke Cake (as found on

This one isn't.

I had a BAD Friday at work. So I baked. Why wouldn't I?


1 Box Chocolate Cake Mix- I used Pillsbury... because it's cheap. Do I need a better reason?
Ingredients needed to make cake (eggs, oil and water)
2 (4 oz.) packages of Instant Oreo pudding
4 cups milk 
Crushed Oreo Cookies 


1. Make cake mix according to directions and bake in a well-greased 9x13 pan.

2. Just before cake is done, start making pudding. In a medium bowl, add milk to pudding mixture and continue to whisk until most of the lumps are removed. Let pudding mixture sit for about 2 minutes. You want it to thicken slightly so it isn't overly runny but not fully thickened into pudding.
     - And then try not to eat it all before using it on the cake.

3. When cake is finished, while still warm, poke holes all over cake (about 1-inch) intervals using a wooden spoon handle or a straw. 

4. Pour pudding mixture over warm cake. Spread it out with a spoon and gently push down on the
pudding to help get it into the holes. Allow the cake to cool for several minutes on the counter then put
into the fridge to set up. 

5. Once the cake is set, spread crushed Oreo cookies on top. Keep refrigerated.

... and then quickly find sister-in-laws and an adorable family you just met to eat it all, so you and your husband don't instead. Seriously. Stephen and I WOULD'VE finished this all off if I hadn't brought it to a picnic at Liberty Park.

Recipe #78: White Chicken Enchiladas (as found on

And this is me ALMOST forgetting to take a picture. But remembering JUST after dinner.


10 soft taco shells
     - My recipe only filled 8 medium soft shells, so heads up.
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
     - The author behind this blog says that she likes to use pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store deli counter. Because I am too cheap for such luxuries (*sigh*), I opted to use two chicken breasts and marinate them in Frank's Hot Sauce, black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika.  
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 pan.

2. Mix chicken and 1 cup cheese.  Roll up in tortillas and place in pan.
     - So following my chicken marinating, I put the chicken breasts on the Foreman Grill. Once they were cooked through, I shredded the chicken and mixed it with the cheese. It worked out great, and the chicken was super flavorful.

3. In a sauce pan, melt butter, stir in flour and cook 1 minute.  Add broth and whisk until smooth.  Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly.  
     - Use a large saucepan, I learned that lesson quickly.

4. Stir in sour cream and chilies.  Do not bring to boil, you don't want curdled sour cream.

5. Pour over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.

6. Bake 22 min and then under high broil for 3 min to brown the cheese.

SO GOOD. And this fed us for dinner Thursday, lunch Friday, dinner Saturday, and lunch Sunday. You get a lot of bang for yer buck! And when we made re-fried beans and served them along with chips and salsa, holy cow, so much awesome food. This one is a keeper!

So life has it's ups and downs. But at least dinner is always taken care of. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Playin' a Little Catch Up...

So, the hubby is in the other room, studying for the MCAT. I have already caught up on all things Pinterest [you guys are letting me down, not NEARLY as many pins as I am used to seeing!] and Facebook, have shut down my Skype account so I stop getting updates from work, have made dinner AND cleaned the kitchen, and have already committed to NOT going to the gym (I can't work out after eating dinner... because it WILL make a reappearance on the gym floor, no lie). I could continue to work on thank-you-cards from the wedding, OR catch up on something TV related, but the hubs is so cute concentrating, I'd hate to interrupt him. Hmm, nothing better to do than update the old blog, I guess.

I COULD fill you in on life here in Utah... but I won't. I'll keep you hanging on for that later. What I WILL do, however, is tell you all about some recipes I have tried recently, because I have a total of FOUR, and I am just so amazed at what a little homemaker I've morphed into in such a short amount of time.

... Okay, not really. Most of our nights consist of Mac N' Cheese from the blue box and hot dogs. But I have managed not to burn anything yet! And that in and of itself is an accomplishment, if you ask me.

So for now, I'll leave you with these four recipes. I won't get into any cutesy little stories like I normally would, just because food isn't fun anymore, IT'S LIFE! I have to feed MYSELF these days! Holy crappola! ... now, if only some of you would come and visit me these days. I have recipes!

*Recipe #72: Fiesta Chicken Casserole (as found on Pinterest. I would give credit to the woman who first blogged about it, but the link provided takes me to Twitter. And if you know me, you know homie don't play that TWEETIN' crap)


2 cups chicken breast grilled & cubed 
2 cups medium shell pasta cooked 
2 cups cheddar/jack cheese blend 
1 can of cream of chicken soup 
1 can Rotel 1 can green chilies 
1/2 cup of milk 

*Okay, I guess I do have a SMALL story to tell you about, concerning this recipe. Stephen and I are now what you might call frugal. We literally went to three separate grocery stores to find these ingredients because we were looking for the best price. Next thing you know, I'm going to be one of those crazy COUPON LADIES. Utah ruins people, I tell ya.


1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, pour into large baking dish (I think we used a 9x13).

2. Cover with cheese, salt and pepper to taste! Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

- Yeah, that's really it. Super easy. It was good too, although I did get tired of all of the peppers after awhile though. Stephen really seemed to enjoy it, yay me! Oh, and as a side note, when it says to cover with cheese, I think I poured one cup in with the mixture, and then covered it with the other cup. I wanted cheese everywhere. A plethora of cheese!

Dinner that night was being shared with family. So we needed dessert. Bring on...

*Recipe #73: Berry Cobbler (as found on very inspirational)


Two 12-oz bags frozen mixed berries (we found some awesome deals on a mix of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries at Winco, but the lady from the blog says that frozen peaches are delicious too)
1 box white cake mix (no pudding)... oops, we used pudding-laced cake mix. And it was French Vanilla. So sue us.
1 can of diet 7-up or sierra mist (clear soda)


1. Place frozen fruit in a 9x13 baking dish. Add dry cake mix over the top. 

2. Pour soda slowly over cake mix. DO NOT stir the cake mix and the pop - this will give you a 'crust'. If you stir the two, you will have a cake-like topping.

3. Bake 350 for 45-50 min.

Okay, this recipe was good, but a little strange. As I am sure you could figure out, the recipe is supposed to be a berry cobbler substitute for the weight-challenged. I honestly just wanted to try it because it had three ingredients in it, and I am all for easy these days. Be forewarned: if you try this, you will be left with strange chunks of unbaked cake mix on top of the cobbler. It's still good, especially if you COVER it in rich, vanilla ice cream like we did (I am SURE that's not how the blogger intended for us to eat it), but it's really weird to bite into the cobbler, and have a white dust puff up into your face.

Recipe #74: Easy-Peasy Skillet Lasagna (as found on I don't know HOW I keep finding these "cooking-that's-good-for-you-websites," really I was just craving a pan of my mom's lasagna, but wanted an easier recipe for it)


1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (Stephen and I don't like onion that much, so we used half an onion)
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced (... we opted to use about four tablespoons of garlic powder, because it's what I had on hand. I just sort of added it to the pan until it tasted good)
2 (14.5 oz) cans Italian diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup tomato sauce
3 basil leaves, chopped (... AGAIN, this translated to 3 tablespoons of dried basil, because it's what we had)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt (Sea salt is for rich people. We used regular table salt)
1/2 cup skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup part skim mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
About 6 ounces lasagna noodles, broken into thirds & fully cooked (you'll understand in a second why I underlined that for you all)
2 tablespoons parsley (dried or fresh)

** This was a vegetarian dish to begin with. We added some ground beef.


1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. 
- This is when we also cooked the ground beef. Which Stephen did for me, because I am still scared of cooking meat by myself. After it was cooked off, he drained the grease, and then I got to work.

2. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook until garlic is fragrant, about one minute. Add in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, salt and pepper. Cook mixture until it thickens up a bit, around 5 minutes.

3. Add noodles to skillet and stir into the mixture well. 
- Okay, I gotta stop you here. So, it was at THIS point I realized that the recipe called for COOKED noodles, and there I stood with hard, uncooked noodles in my hands. MAKE SURE YOU COOK THE NOODLES FIRST. I had to put the skillet of meat and Italian goodness on low until I had cooked the noodles, which took FOR-EV-ER!)

4. Add scoops of ricotta cheese over the noodles; add in mozzarella and Parmesan. Stir in parsley.  Cook about 2 more minutes, or until mixture is thick.

5. Serve immediately with additional basil or parsley.

- Or dump an additional cup of mozzarella cheese on top, like I did. Whoops.

THIS WAS SO GOOD, and the hubby had lunch and dinner covered for the next day. Yes, that is what I call stretching my dollar. Uh-thank-you.

*FINALLY, drum roll please... #75: Andes Mint Cookies (as found on LOVE those women!)


1 Devil's Food Cake Mix
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 package of Andes Mints


1. Mix cake mix, oil, and eggs together. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto baking sheet. 
- Thank goodness I got not one, but TWO cookie scoops from the wedding. What would I do without good friends? ... NOT have uniformly shaped cookies, that's what!

2. Bake at 350 degrees for 6-9 minutes. Don't cook any longer than that! You don't want them to be overdone!

3. Take sheet out of oven and while the cookies are still very hot, place an Andes Mint on top of each cookie. In about 5 minutes, the mint will be melted. Take a spoon and smooth out each mint like frosting.

- I kinda squished the Andes Mint into the cookie, so it would set. And yes, it does spread JUST like frosting once it's melted. AND, believe it or not, these cookies are even better if you put them in the fridge over night like we did. Seriously. Try it. NOW.

So, we really were trying to do a good thing in baking these cookies. The mother of one of my co-workers got into a car wreck last week, so I wanted to bring cookies for him to give to her... unfortunately, he never showed up again to work after the accident, so Stephen and I were forced to eat them while watching the O.C.


ANYWAYS, miss you all. Sending my love from the Great Salt Lake Valley. Don't miss me too much.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Recipe #71 and the FINAL Countdown...

OHMYHECK. You cannot believe the last week I've had. It's been thoroughly positive (other than budget matters, which we won't get into because NOBODY likes to hear other people's money woes!)- I have had two separate interviews for a position with a company in Provo [that's right, I said COMPANY. I might be a teacher without a classroom for a while, but I'll keep you posted], I have been up to my eyeballs in not only correspondence with my wedding planner in Hawaii, but also my various reception planners in Washington [Friday, August 3rd is the date, I'll fill most of you in later], my favorite and I can finally *KISS* long distance goodbye as I am picking him up for the FINAL time from the airport today [yes, we realize we'll probably occasionally travel apart, but don't rain on my parade- my two years of long distance is FINALLY over!], and I've been to the gym practically everyday in my attempts to shed the pre-wedding pounds- SEE! I told you it's been primarily positive.

Checking in on the diet, I am OFFICIALLY the smallest I have been since high school [I know I keep saying that, but I keep shedding the weight!], and it feels AWESOME. I've definitely toned quite a bit, I can actually see definition in my arms and even my ABS [yes, I still have a little tummy jiggle... but it's better than it was], and I am now 131.6 POUNDS! Ahhhhh!! I haven't seen that on the scale in practically 10 years!

Weight starting my "new" leg of dieting- 135.0 pounds
Weight as of today- 131.6 pounds
Weight loss- 3.4 pounds
Days until my wedding- 11 days

NOW, for the part I know you've all actually checked in for- recipe #71. Yep, I snuck another one in. And yes, I indulged quite a bit. This recipe was actually a super interesting one- it was another Sunday that I had volunteered to bake with Momma Midge, and I had been on the hunt for something summery. I don't know if you've heard, but for the last week or so the Tri-Cities has been inundated with HEAT- like, over 100 degrees everyday kind of heat. As stupid as I was for volunteering to hang out in a hot kitchen in that kind of sweltering heat, I found a really fun, but VERY interesting cookie. Tell me what you think-

#71: Cherry Lemonade Sugar Cookies (as adapted from


1 1/2 cups unsalted butter softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup icing sugar (... powdered sugar. I had to look it up)
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 packs cherry Kool-aid ( unsweetened )
5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

*Again, fair warning, I doubled the recipe again just because I knew we were delivering quite a few cookies that night, and wanted to be on the safe side.


1. In stand mixer combine butter and sugars. Beat until light and fluffy. Add Kool-aid and eggs. Mix well then add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until all combined.

2. Divide dough into four 8 x 2 inch logs. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour.
     - This is where this recipe got a little messy for me, so let me make it easier for YOU. What I did was I made four sections in my dough, and took one section of dough out of the bowl at a time, placing that section down on a well-floured cutting board. I put flour on my hands, and kneaded the dough into as close to a 8x2 inch log as I could. I then wrapped the dough in plastic wrap, and placed it into a baking dish. After repeating this process with the three other sections of dough, I placed the dish into the freezer, and kept it there for about four hours.

3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cookie sheet with parchment. Remove cookie logs from refrigerator.
Cut into 1/2 inch slices. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on cookie rack.
    - Since I had made my dough in the morning at my house, what I ended up doing was collecting my dough from my freezer, and placing it in the Baird's fridge for about an hour while we ate dinner. Afterwards, I grabbed a cookie sheet, and didn't grease it or line with parchment. Instead I just cut the dough into 1/2 inch slices, arranged about 12 cookies on a sheet, and then baked them off for 13 minutes. They didn't stick to the sheet at all!

Okay, yeah, they're kinda strange looking cookies. Slicing them off the logs I felt like I was slicing Spam...

Ingredients for frosting:

*Disclaimer- this recipe is actually called "Cherry LIMEADE Sugar Cookies," but unfortunately Albertson's didn't have any lime Kool-aid, so I had to use lemonade. If someone tries the lime, can you tell me how it turned out?

1 cup unsalted butter
5 cups icing sugar
1 pack lemonade Kool-aid
3-4 tablespoon milk
maraschino cherries with stems


1. Beat butter, icing sugar, kool-aid and milk together until frosting is fluffy. Adding more milk if needed.
     - I think I only used four cups of the powdered sugar, and a little less than a full packet of Kool-aid, since the lemonade mix was a little overwhelming. But delicious, with just enough "bite."

2. Frost cooled cookies using a piping bag or just spread frosting on top of cookies. Complete with
cherries on top of each cookie.
     - I HATE maraschino cherries, so I opted out, and instead topped the cookies with pink sprinkles. They turned out adorable!

Hello, little mouth sparklers!!

There you have it. They actually very closely resemble the strawberry cream cheese cookies I made earlier this year, but they have a very distinct flavor. They're very "bright" tasting, for lack of a better word, but very good. These would be adorable at a summer baby shower or birthday party if you ask me... TRY THEM.