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. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

#69 and #70

I can't stay away from baking for long, and although I am on a diet, I have been GRACIOUS enough to cook/bake for the people I love around me.

... okay, I enjoyed these treats a little, too. Luckily my weight, although it bounces a little from day to day due to the usual "female-water-weight-issues," has stayed down. I feel more fit than I have in a long time! And to be even more fair to myself, I think I made these two recipes over the span of three weeks, so it definitely wasn't like I was sitting and overindulging constantly.

All right, there is my reasoning. Now enjoy these little tasties I found off of, *what else*, Pinterest. OH, and I am proud to announce, as of this week, I pinned my 1,000th pin! ... I think it might be time for an intervention. Or maybe a PINtervention! (oh, that was CLEVER!)

#69: Chicken and Spinach Pasta Bake (as found on

Stephen and I were tired of spending money going out for food. So we decided to pull on our big-kid pants, and make dinner ourselves. After sitting for an hour, debating about each of the dinner pins on my recipe board, we finally settled on this, and it did NOT disappoint. This recipe does make quite a bit of food, so be forewarned- DO NOT eat as much Italian bread as I did prior to eating this dish, because you will be too full to enjoy it. Luckily, Stephen and Amy told me it was delish, and that's all the validation I need.


8 oz uncooked rigatoni (which was like half a box)
1 T olive oil
1 c chopped onion
1 (10 oz) pack frozen spinach, thawed
3 c cubed, cooked chicken breasts
1 (14 oz) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (8 oz) container Philadelphia chive & onion cream cheese
½ t salt, ½ t pepper
1½ c shredded mozzarella cheese


1. Prepare rigatoni according to package directions. Spread oil on bottom of 11×7 in baking dish; add onion in a single layer.  Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or just until tender.  Transfer onion to large bowl, set aside.
     - P.S. make your future husband chop the onion like I did. Other wise, it'll sting your eyes (I guess I'm going to have to go without onion on those nights Stephen isn't home...)

2. Drain chopped spinach well, pressing between paper towels (or dish towel... like I had to. Eww)  Stir in rigatoni, spinach, chicken, & next 4 ingredients into onion in bowl.  Spoon mixture into dish & sprinkle evenly with shredded mozzarella cheese.  Bake covered at 375 for 30 minutes; uncover & bake 15 more minutes or until bubbly.
That's it! It was awesome... and of course, I DIDN'T take a picture. However, mine looked JUST like the photo from the website, so I will use her's.
Bubbly, cheesy goodness. Yum.
#70: Orange Creamsicle Cookies (as found on she is quickly becoming one of my favorites!)
Momma Midge needed cookies for the ward- I came to the rescue. With these. AND THEY ARE AWESOME. I have to admit, a big reason I agreed to help was because I am on a diet and I miss baking, A LOT. Of course I jumped at the chance to put the old apron on and stick my fingers in over 2 cups of creamy, delicious butter. 
But seriously, make these. Before the summer is over. And share them with everyone you know.
Ingredients (this is a DOUBLED recipe, since I knew I had to make A LOT of cookies, and I think it made at least 96 cookies, no fooling):
5 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
The zest of 3 large oranges
4 cups white chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In another bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla until smooth.

3. Gradually add the flour mixture until combined. Stir in the orange zest and white chocolate chips.

4. Drop rounded tablespoons of batter onto ungreased cookie sheets. Make sure to not flatten the cookies, it will make them dry! Bake 11 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. The cookies will be plump. Cool for several minutes on cookie sheets. Store in an airtight container.

And again, forgot to take a picture. So... here you go!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

"OH, for the Love of..."

I saw a cute challenge a couple of days ago, one I knew I needed to share with all of you. I was stumbling along some of my favorite blogs when I came across the sweetest letter. It was one that a man had written for his fiance that included some questions that her maid of honor had asked him to complete. The letter was read to the bride at her bridal shower, and upon reading it, she was completely overwhelmed with how much love she really did feel towards her soon-to-be-husband. Now, it's come to my attention that as of recently, I have been very caught up in the... "bachelorette" sense of marriage... meaning I am all "wound-up" and "ready to get this party started"... if you catch what I'm throwin' at ya. It wasn't until tonight with my phone call to Stephen that made me realize, I've lost sight of just WHAT is coming up, and what marriage is going to truly entail, so I went ahead and decided to tackle this challenge myself.

So, Stephen... here is my letter to you. And in no way are you pressured to complete the same for me... *ahem*

1. Tell everyone about your first date:
It truly was a date that was never meant to actually happen. Throughout the summer at Partners 'N Pals, Stephen and I had these harmless crushes towards one another that we both thought would NEVER go anywhere. Considering just how attracted I really was to him, I kept coming up with silly excuses for our camp counselors to get together after work that really had NOTHING to do with work... again, just admiring Stephen from afar.

One night, however, our boss and friend had mentioned that she thought the three of us should get together for dinner. Although she eventually backed out due to an important commitment, Stephen and I both decided we'd go ahead with the plan and grab a casual dinner by ourselves. Although it was never explicitly stated, I was all nerves, realizing that even though we hadn't called it one by name, we were kind of going on a date (because the WHOLE camp knew at this time that we were both attracted to one another).

I tried to dress casually, but still attractively, and we showed up separately. He was a gentleman the entire time, opening doors for me, insisting I sit before him. We also NEVER ran out of conversation... I think we showed up for dinner around 7 and we closed the place down. There were no awkward pauses, no need to feel like I had to go out of my way to impress him, and the food was AWESOME. I seriously had never had a smoother first date. It was like we had been friends for years, and I was so comfortable just sitting and getting to know him.

There was no awkward good night kiss, just a hug, and a little mystery as to where we'd be going from there. I was hooked.

2. If Stephen had one hour to himself, what would he do?
I want to say, spend it with me. But if he truly was by himself, it would be doing something outdoorsy- skiing, wakeboarding, fishing, anything active really. I WISH I had Stephen's natural ability to try something and be good at it.

3. What first attracted you to Stephen?
I physically thought Stephen was very cute at first. He had a great smile, he was so friendly to everyone around him, very talkative, and very outgoing. He just had a personality that I found most people seemed drawn to. What was REALLY the kicker though was how AMAZING he was with children- I had never seen anyone more patient and loving. Plus, he really did seem to love spending time and playing with his camper. Just how attentive and caring he was, I KNEW he was going to make an amazing father and husband one day, and that was VERY attractive.

4. What does he love most about you?
Well, I kind of hate talking FOR him, but when we have discussed this before, I think we've both said that it's how it feels like we have known each other for years- we are TRULY each other's counterpart, exactly what we need from another person to be complete.

5. What do you love most about him?
Aside from what I said above, it's his personality. I have never met a man that people genuinely seem to love being around as much as people seem to enjoy being around Stephen. Everyone that knows him has SUCH wonderful things to say about him. He is the kindest person I know.

Oh... and that smile, mixed with his happy eyes and freckles. Sigh.

6. What is each of your favorite restaurants?
Oh geesh... we love food. I'd have to say though, he is my SUSHI partner, the one person who seems to be down for it any time I am. So... HAPPY SUMO!

7. What is Stephen's favorite season and why?
Ha ha, we've talked about this before! Summer and winter! I know that seems like a cop out, but he always said that the thing he loves about summer is JUUUUUST as he's getting tired of it, it's suddenly skiing season, and just as he's tired of the snow, it's almost time for boating! Such an easy-going guy!

8. When did you first know you loved him?
Very quickly. We were sitting at a mutual friend's house and he was playing guitar, and I was just sitting and watching him, and I knew at that very moment, that I was going to marry him. I didn't know how it could happen, I didn't know WHEN, I just knew he was in my life for a reason, and I COULD NOT lose him. Talk about overwhelming!

9. What has been your favorite date?
Oh my goodness, we have had a lot of good ones. There was a really fun one last summer, where we went to sushi, then picked up goods for smores and headed up into the canyons outside of Provo. We were completely unprepared, with no flashlight or folding chairs, and as we were watching the fire, a raccoon scurried onto our picnic table behind us, and we both screamed bloody murder... so we spent the rest of the night on a blanket on the hood of his car watching the meteor shower. So fun!

10. What is your favorite vacation spot? Together?
We have gone on so many fun trips to visit friends and family, THIS is a tough one... I think TOGETHER we'd probably say our California trip last May. I never wanted to leave, AND I think I convinced Stephen we need to spend AT LEAST A LITTLE of our married life living down there. Plus, Disneyland, beach cruisers, breakfast sandwiches, Aunt Nan, AND the famous Jeni Baird? How could you NOT love California?

11. If you could go to one place in the world where would you go?
Hawaii. Let's get this show on the road! No, but seriously, I am so excited to show Stephen around. For so long it's been "my place"... now I want it to be OURS.

12. Why do you want to marry Stephen?
Stephen is my best friend. I have never felt more comfortable, safe, or cared for than when I have been with him. He is everything I am not. He is the first person I want to see in the morning, and the last person I want to say good-night to. I fit perfectly in his arms. He accepts that I am not perfect, and yet always treats me like I am. When we are together, I know without a doubt, I am the only woman he sees in a room. I have never trusted a person more whole-heartedly than I do Stephen.

I know he will care for and provide for our family. He will be the greatest role model for my sons, and show my daughters how a man should treat them. I am proud to call him my future husband. 

Thanks for always putting things into perspective for me, babe. I owe you. And to everyone else, sorry for the mush.

Friday, June 29, 2012

How Low Can You Go...

Well, time for a milestone update, for those of you keeping track, or have any slight interest in my weight loss- I have OFFICIALLY hit my lowest weight since beginning my diet WAY back in December. This would mean I am my lowest weight since I was a senior in high school. Yeow! ... unfortunately, I do not remember being this JIGGLY as a senior in high school, but I guess that's what time, gravity, and poor eating habits in college will do to you.

Needless to say, I hate dieting. Everything I have pinned on Pinterest within this last week has practically been food because I MISS FOOD. I miss walking into the kitchen and not even have a momentary lapse of judgement when it comes to what I am putting in my mouth. Seriously, every piece of food I put in my mouth these days comes with a little guilt. I repeat my mantra in my head, "Do you REALLY need that cookie?", because dangit, I DESERVE to be jaw-droppingly hot  on my wedding night... and be able to zip my wedding dress on, yaknowwaddamean? I just don't know how many of these going-to-the-gym-twice-a-day moments I am going to be able to handle...

Oh, but I did find a recipe worth trying on Pinterest- apparently if you take grapes and roll them in Watermelon Jell-o powder, it tastes like Sour Patch Kids. Anyone try this? Tell me if it's any good...

Let's look at the stats-

Weight starting my "new" leg of dieting- 135.0 pounds
Weight as of today- 132.8 pounds
Weight loss- 2.2 pounds
Days until my wedding- 25 days

Eeep. Better get to RIPPED. Much love.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Here We Go Again...

If I didn't know any better, I'd swear I just posted a nearly identical post to this one just a few months ago. It's true- I have completely fallen off the dieting, and heck, even the working out bandwagon. It's not that I've gotten lazy. It's just so hard to begin your diet 6 months before your wedding and expect to STAY on that diet for that long... one can only enjoy protein, vegetables, and fruits alone for so long, na'mean?

I blame Stephen. Which is a great route to begin our marriage on, I know. But seriously, every time the boy comes home for an extended period of time, my workouts and diet go to pot. We just enjoy food WAY TOO MUCH, and between the cleaning and packing of my classroom, the in-laws being in town, celebrations, and road trips to Utah, I've managed to pack on about 2 and a half pounds since he's been home. I know that doesn't sound like much, and I didn't think it was either, but let me share an eye-opening story with you:

I don't know which of you ladies are familiar with wedding dress alterations, but this week, I was finally on my LAST one (Meaning, my seamstress had already made the changes I had wanted on the dress, now I just had to step into it and see how it all fit). After slipping the dress on, I stepped out of the dressing room, requesting help with the zipper. After Stephen tried unsuccessfully, we called over our favorite Chinese seamstress to see if she could carefully zip me up. Needless to say, what resulted was painful, embarrassing, and shameful- both she and Stephen had to stand there, holding my dress together, while she pulled at the zipper, proclaiming "Oooooh, YOU FAT! Ha ha ha!"

Now, according to Stephen, this is just the "Asian way." They are BRUTALLY honest, and will stereotypically tell you things without really any consideration to your feelings. Prior to this moment, I didn't think I was FAT... sure, I had put a little weight back on, but nothing that would make me morbidly obese! I wanted to backhand her though. To make matters worse, the rest of the time she was cinching my dress back up, she kept repeating "You LOSE WEIGHT! You go on diet! Eat soup!" Talk about a blow to my ego. I HAVE lost weight... but this woman is telling me it's not enough!

If it wasn't for the fact that I couldn't breathe in my dress when all was said and done, I would've laughed her comments off. Now though, I gotta take this diet seriously. I am DETERMINED to be the smallest I can by my wedding, or so help me! Talk about embarrassing if I am BIGGER at my wedding than I was when I first bought my dress. You all are going to have to hold me accountable. No sweets, no excess carbs, no creamy sauces, no fast food... I have to make this work. So here we go again...

Weight as of today- 135.0 pounds
Weight loss goal- 130.0 pounds
Weight gain since I was my smallest- +1.8 pounds


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Home is Wherever I am With You

I'd like to spend a moment thanking [most] of you- thank you for your understanding, thank you for not questioning our decisions (at least, not to our faces), thank you for the support, and of course, thank you to our Utah friends who have made us feel so cared for. I'd also like to ask that no matter your opinion of our choice, you use this post to better understand our situation, rather than pass judgement.

The decision Stephen and I made to move to Orem, Utah has been a long time in the making. Since we have started dating, Stephen has hinted [or flat out begged, let's be honest here] for me to consider packing up my life, dropping my job, and moving down to be closer to him. Although long distance hasn't always been the easiest, I was steadfastly against the idea of Utah- what would my family say? My friends? How angry would my co-workers and my boss be? I couldn't imagine giving up my life, my CAREER, that I have worked so hard to earn and achieve. That would be submissive of me, I'd be falling right into what I (and quite frankly, A LOT of people) view to be the "Mormon way" of the woman giving up her needs to her husband (boyfriend at this time... but you know what I mean).

Following our engagement, the idea of moving to the Provo area was still mentioned, and I still held on to my hopes of keeping my position at Finley Elementary. It started to become clear though that life wasn't quite shaping up the way Stephen and I originally imagined. As a pre-med student, Stephen's priorities were no longer on school. In order to stay competitive in the medical school candidate pool, his GPA would need a little work, and he'd have to keep cramming for the MCAT, but suddenly planning our life AFTER med school seemed more important. We kept pushing all of our focus away from our current circumstances, and we began to build a life in the Tri-Cities, even so much as to go and put down deposits on not ONE, but TWO separate apartments (that was a comical series of events). Each time we put down a deposit, something would come up that would prevent us from moving to those particular apartments, and neither one of us could figure out why so many things were working against us.

Stephen and I began to argue more often. I became angry with his under-grad choices, yelling at him about studying skills and lack of focus, and all the things that he could no longer control. I became angrier at school, more on edge with my family, and generally just a very introverted individual. The straw that broke the camel's back, however, came when Stephen let his parents know that in good conscious, he could no longer graduate on time if he hoped to be competitive... he would have to go back and raise his GPA.

[Disclaimer: Stephen's GPA isn't HORRIBLE, I promise you. I don't want you to get the wrong impression. Medical school is just SO TOUGH to get into these days that he wants to make sure his GPA stands out from the crowd, get it?]

Suddenly, we were all fighting. Stephen and I began to try to work out what could be done to save our situation, and it wasn't looking good. In order to go back to school, Stephen would need to reapply to WSU Tri-Cities, which didn't ensure that all of his credit hours would transfer from BYU. The cost of tuition at even the Tri-Cities campus has gone up substantially, and in order to qualify for student loans and grants, Stephen would need to take a lot of completely unnecessary classes in order to boost his number of credit hours, or face paying out of pocket. Although many people pay out of pocket, and make it work, we were nervous about paying for rent, two car payments (and with the possibility of needing to buy a new car within the next year), car insurance, cell phone bills, utilities, groceries, heat, etc., as well as EXPENSIVE tuition on a teacher's salary. My contract accounted for no pay raise (even though I was moving up the pay scale as a third year teacher), and on top of that, staying with my job at Finley Elementary would require me to begin to pursue my ProCert (I don't want to explain THAT mess, but my teacher friends know what's up), which would be another payment completely out of pocket. To make matters even worse, the job market in the Tri-Cities isn't looking too hot, as the area continues to make cuts, thereby making the candidate pool for well paying jobs across the area even more deep. The possibility of Stephen getting a good job, while also attending classes, wasn't looking great.

Naturally though, at this time, Stephen and I did the math, and realized that the tuition at BYU was MUCH cheaper. On top of that, Stephen already knew he qualified for great grants and loans, plus he was receiving tips about decent, if not VERY well, paying jobs from his friends on the inside around the Lehi-Orem-Provo area in Utah. I of course, was stubborn. My old mentality about being a strong, independent woman was getting in the way of seeing that moving would provide us with a much more secure future. I couldn't imgaine giving up "me." My career, my friends, my family, my LIFE. The only way I could describe how I felt was stuck- I literally felt like someone had dropped me into a twenty foot hole, and the only way I would even try to get out was by digging even further down. I even went so far as to question Stephen whether getting married at this time was the right choice, whether we needed another year apart to better ourselves before we settled down together.

It was about this time though that the statements I was actually making hit me. I truly believe there is never a "right time" to be married. If Stephen and I held out for a "perfect" time, we'd be pushing this marriage back for years. Our marriage won't be about taking the easiest route, but it will be two people coming together, from two very different lives and backgrounds, trying to find a way to blend our craziness together into one. And at that time, I wasn't willing to budge. Even when I saw there was no way to find a good middle ground for us, I REFUSED to acknowledge that it might be my time to give in a little.

Another disclaimer for you less spiritual individuals- I can't even tell you how often how hard I began to pray at this time. Over the last few years, I have found that in my darkest times, I tend to get the strongest answers to prayer. So needless to say, when I began to ask the right questions- "What is it you want us to do? What plans do you have for us? Do you want us to pack up and move to Utah?"- I felt peace that I hadn't felt in months. As scared as I was, and as stubborn as I felt, I knew there was a reason I felt so calm when I asked these questions.

Stephen and I are meant to be, I know this without any doubt in my mind. Our circumstances have lead us to find one another when we both needed a person in our lives that provide what we provide to one another. He brings out the absolute best in me, and has changed my life in ways that I never imagined possible. We need each other, and it was time that I finally faced the fact that I knew, for months even, that moving to Utah was truly what was, and is, best for us.

Before you jump on my back, let me explain. I know I am giving up a teaching job when people are begging for jobs. I know I probably seem ungrateful to some people who worked so hard to help me land my position, and I promise, I couldn't be more thankful for the opportunities I was given. I met some amazing people, worked harder than I ever thought I would, and put SO MUCH work into that DREAM fourth grade position (seriously, in a way, I was spoiled. Working alongside my master teacher in the school I student taught in, pretty primo), it is very hard to walk away from it. The reasons I want to keep my job at Finley though were pretty selfish. I was worried what it would look like to others, I was worried I was letting people down, I was worried about all of my hard work being for nothing. I am lucky enough to be in a field of work that, yes, although you and EVERY OTHER PERSON I HAVE TALKED TO assures me that the candidate pool in the Utah is completely saturated and half the women down there are teachers, I know I will get a job when the time is right. Whether it is for a position next year, or whether I am subbing, or whether I have to wait until Stephen and I are in a more permanent spot in our lives, I have faith that I am supposed to be a teacher, and I am a good one, and the perfect job will come when I am ready. I will find work, and I will help support Stephen and I, and it doesn't matter if it's in Finley or at another district. What does matter is that I am doing what will most help my family, including my future children, in the long run. We all know I will NOT be making the money in the family- teachers get paid SQUAT. Getting into this marriage, I knew that Stephen would need a lot of support getting to his goal of being a doctor. I also know that if he can get there, my family and I will be taken care of. It is just a matter of having faith knowing that although our lives might not be picture perfect for a few years, we will be taken care of.

So with that being said, my current situation is this- as of today, I have applied for 16 teaching positions. I am holding a preliminary Utah license, as my credit hours and teaching experience has been verified by the USOE (like our OSPI), now I am just waiting for the fingerprinting to clear for my official, paper license. Stephen and I have found a wonderful apartment in Orem, and if I wasn't so frightened of stalkers, I would totally show you pictures of the grounds on this blog (text or message me on Facebook, and I'll show you!). The apartments were built in the late 90's, but are in the middle of a remodel. They have vaulted ceilings, two-toned paint, a separate dining room and kitchen, large patio with storage, separate laundry room, pantry, a HUGE walk in closet, and a roman style bathtub in our bathroom (seriously cannot wait to decorate this place!). And, the biggest perk? We are right down the street from Krispy Kreme! Ha ha ha.

Stephen is waiting to hear back from a few companies he applied and interviewed for positions for, but I promise, even if these don't work out, he and I have come up with quite a few back-up plans (we have talked this out A LOT, promise). He is currently on track to take the MCAT and begin applying to med schools this fall (let's cross our fingers that we'll end up in Arizona or Southern California for a while!!). Tomorrow we are leaving to spend the week in Utah getting apartment needs together, clean out his current, "singles" apartment, and be fitted for our wedding garb. Oh yeah, and we're getting married in 38 days!

Our lives might not be perfect. We might disappoint people. We might be judged by people who don't understand. We are happy though, and we both feel very good about our situation. And I have learned that although change is scary, we're going to be fine, because according to Pinterest...

Home is wherever I am with you!