Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I have to admit that I like to watch shows that don't make sense to the rest of the way I live. I love to watch things like the Ukanuba Dog Show and we will never have a dog in this house. I think I can appreciate the creatures of the world without being up close-right?

I look forward every year to Shark Week on Discovery and it started Sunday-yay!. This year is its 20th Anniversary and wow I get the shivers and renew to never go in the Ocean (Jordan too) again every year. I can chalk this week up to expanding my brain cells as I have learned some very interesting gems of info and it's only day 3 of Shark Week.

So far I've learned:
-Florida is the #1 place to get an attack. There have been 255 attacks since 1990 and you have a 90% chance of survival.
-Don't swim at dusk or dawn, in murky water, alone, by seals, or in chummed water (duh!)
-Hong Kong and Tokyo made the Top 10 places for an attack (10,9 respectively), who would have thought?
-Most Shark Attacks happen in less than 5 feet of water
-People swim with Great Whites of their own accord to test their bravery. These people did not have chain mail on, but did have a cage they could swim in and out of for safety.
-The worst shark attack occurred during WWII in 1945 when the U.S.S. Indianaopolis sunk and over 900 men went overboard. The sharks mainly picked off the dead or dying and unfortunately only 321 survived, most died due to sharks but mainly to the weather and drinking salt water. It was a VERY fascinating and harrowing story.
-If you ever get attacked punch the shark or poke it's eyes (I do know this from previous years of watching).

I am off to finish watching my DVR full of shark shows from yesterday and today. I have:
-Shark Feeding Frenzy, they examine if sharks really attack humans on purpose.
-Deadly Stripes: Tiger Sharks
-Top 5 Eaten Alive
-10 Deadliest Sharks (2 part show)

I have more DVRing the rest of this week and Jordan really wonders why I watch shows like these and the Eukanuba Dog Show when in real life I wouldn't keep a furry pet or go Surfing (unless covered in chain mail). It really makes him laugh and scratch his head!

Other good shows to catch on Discovery!
Discovery has some amazing shows like:
-Planet Earth with gorgeous scenery that took 5 years to shoot and compile.
-My favorite Discovery show is Meerkat Manor which returns August 10th. Meerkat Manor follows a cute little Meerkat family of about 20+ and the danger and challenges they face. It's seriously adorable and fascinating (and no I won't have a Meerkat for a pet either-maybe a fish or an outside Tortoise).
-Richard Smith (our friend EmmaLee's bro.) reminded me of Dirty Jobs with yum-o Mike Rowe and getting gross and dirty. Makes me gag sometimes (do you know how you artifically inseminate a cow?) but other times like cheese making is really cool! All I know is that I couldn't host that show.
-Ok, now I thought of one more discovery show that is my all time favorite-Deadliest Catch. It follows about 6 or so ships and their Alaskan crab fishing experiences. There are deaths every year and the pay-out is huge: like $40,000 for a month of fishing. The water is freezing and they hardly ever sleep. I love it!

Once again this shows how my life/shows watching doesn't make sense, I tried deep fishing once and threw up for 6 LONG HOURS! I'll never go out in a small boat in the Ocean again. Literally I was green when I got back to the hotel. I should have stayed and shopped with my mom and sister-in-law.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Make me some Mexican

Ok, so some people may say that I like to watch T.V.-me I like to think that I'm just par for the course. One of my favorite channels lately is the Foodtv. They have some serious hotties that work on there-oh and the food is good too. One of my favorite Mchottie is Tyler Florence. He's babe-a-licious go to http://www.tylerflorence.com/ for some yumminess!

Anyways, Tyler always makes killer food/recipes and this episode was for Mexican tacos. Yum-o as Rachael Ray (another Foodtv chef) would say. It looked super yummy and I wanted to try it the minute it got over. We invited some friends over on Saturday and made these. I was a little nervous about the spiciness to the recipe and even though it does have some kick once you added guacamole and salsa it was wasn't too spicy. Let's just say it was so yummy it was only because I literally could not stuff anymore in that I stopped eating. I am posting the recipe below in hopes that you can share the same yummy experience as us. We are DEFINITELY doing this recipe again sometime soon. I think it might be in my Top 5 recipes of all time.

*Some notes about the recipe below.
-I have never used Ancho chile powder and had to go to a specialty grocery store to find it. It wasn't anymore expensive that other herbs so don't be afraid to find it. I'm sure the recipe wouldn't be the same without it, but in a pinch regular chile powder would probably work too.
-San Marzano tomatoes-I also found these at AJ's fine grocery. They are pricey and I don't know if I can tell a difference. I guess these are the juiciest and best tomatoes out there, but I'm sure your regular store brand would work just fine too.
-Serrano and Jalapeno chile peppers-I started using these ingredients lately and they really aren't too hot. Just leave out the seeds (they contain a lot of the heat) the first time and adjust accordingly. Chile peppers do leave an oil on your fingers so please wash thoroughly after using and don't stick your finger in your eye. We've already had an incident in our house when Jordan didn't realize this and wondered why his eyes and nose were burning after sticking his finger in both orifices. I'm sure he'd tell you it hurt like he** (he'd say heck!).

Ok, so on for the recipes. They look more complicated that they are. I'm sure you could make the roast in the crock pot too on low after browning on both sides first.

Mexican Pot Roast Tacos
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence, 2007

2 pounds beef shoulder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 large onion, sliced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, (recommended: San Marzano)
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 bay leaves
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
Corn Tortillas
Kosher salt
3 cups finely shredded white cabbage
Guacamole, recipe follows
Salsa, recipe follows
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro leaves

For the simple salsa:
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained, reserving the juice (recommended: San Marzano)
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
1 Serrano chile
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
2 limes, juiced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the Guacamole: (I cut this recipe into a third and it worked well for 4 people)
6 ripe avocados
3 limes, juiced
1 medium yellow or red onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed then minced
2 serrano chiles, cut into rounds (I cut these a bit finer and not in rounds)
1 big handful fresh cilantro with stems, about 1/2 cup, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season all sides of the beef with a fair amount of salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, or other heavy pot that has a tight cover, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over moderately high heat. Add the garlic and the beef to the pot, browning the meat on all sides, taking the time to get a nice crust on the outside. Add the onion and allow to lightly brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, plus 1 tomato can of water (to the side of the meat not on top of), spices, season with salt and pepper, to taste (on top of meat). Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer with a lid for 3 hours until the meat is fork tender. Let meat cool in the liquid. Shred meat and set aside.

Heat a large pot of oil over medium heat. When oil reaches 350 degrees F, fry the corn tortillas 1 at a time. Place the tortilla in the oil and wait about 30 seconds. Then use the handle of a wooden spoon to press down into the center of the tortilla and fold it in the middle. Hold down for a few seconds waiting for the tortilla to form into taco shell and then drain on paper towels. Season with salt.

For the simple salsa: To make salsa, pulse all the ingredients, except the tomato juice, in a food processor. Add the reserved tomato juice if the salsa is too thick. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside, allowing the flavors to marry.

For the guacamole: Halve and pit the avocados. With a tablespoon, scoop out the flesh into a mixing bowl. Mash the avocados using either a fork or potato masher, leaving them still a bit chunky. Add the remaining ingredients, and fold everything together. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and give it 1 final mix with a fork. Lay a piece of plastic wrap tight on the surface of the guacamole so it doesn't brown and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

To assemble the tacos: Lay some shredded cabbage as a base. Top with some shredded beef. Serve alongside Guacamole and salsa. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Made in China

This seriously just happened to me about 5 minutes ago and I just had to post about this.

We received these very cute "handmade" pillowcases almost 10 years ago for our wedding. They are white and have a crocheted part at the top of the opening. They don't really match our room now as our duvet cover has cream instead of white in it, but I couldn't bear not to use them since someone "lovingly" hand stitched them. The white pillows against the cream has been bugging me for about a year, but still I used them.

Today I was making the bed (at 11 am-at least it's done!) and I had washed these pillowcases the other day so I was putting it back on the pillow inside out without knowing. I go to take it off to flip it right side out and notice a tag inside the pillowcase. What does it say? Let me guess-MADE IN CHINA!!!

I cannot believe I have been keeping these pillowcases for 10 years and they are made in china off of a machine. All of the love and care that I thought was there is poof now gone!

In all fairness I just now thought to myself, well maybe someone just "BOUGHT" white pillowcases and then embroidered on the ends. I just went and inspected them closely and it "IS" possible that this is what happened. Maybe the love and care is still there? Well, they are off my bed anyhow and now reside on the guest bed so if any of you come to visit please inspect my "handmade" pillowcases VERY, VERY closely and give me your verdict. (Mom can you bring your magnifying glass in October for this task?)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Sixth Beatle

Our good friends Dave & Melanie, who used to live about four houses away, moved to Vegas a few months ago. It was sad to see them go, of course, but it was also bad for Matthew's hair situation. Melanie gave him his first few haircuts, and we haven't taken him to get a trim since. The result has been about the most moppy haired one-year old you'll ever see.

I took those while Matthew was hanging out in one of his favorite spots, which is the little space in between the couches. He usually plays around there when he's trying to get at the laptop, but sometimes he just gives up & settles for reading/eating a good book.

On an unrelated note, I'm sure we'll post something in the next few days (if we can get some video evidence), but Matthew is finally starting to walk. He's still trying to get his confidence up, but he spent a lot of today bipedal. I think he's taken this long to walk because a) he is such an efficient crawler and has been at it so long and b) he fell over so many times and knocked his head when he first stood up 6 or 7 months ago that it's taken him this long to get over the trauma.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Getting organized....and other musings from the week

I have been such a slacker in posting so I'm sorry about that! I've been busy with getting ready for my company's annual convention, hanging out with Matthew, re-reading Harry Potter 6 in anticipation of book 7 that comes out on July 21 and re-reading Twilight and New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (LDS author, books aimed at young adults) in anticipation of the third book Eclipse which comes out on August 7th, and doing some scrapbooking. Needless to say I've been a bit preoccupied. I have also been needing Jordan to get a picture off of the camera so I could complete my post, but I kept forgetting to ask Jordan to pull the pictures off (come on Jordan could you please learn ESP already?).

The first part of my post is about our new organization system that I finished on the 4th of July. I made my mom a similar gift for Mother's Day and wanted one myself. I found this magnetic frame and accessories at Robert's while in Utah in June. It sat around waiting patiently to get finished and Jordan was nice enough to sand and paint it for me (I didn't even ask he volunteered to do it).

We've been needing something on one of our big walls in our kitchen and this made for the perfect artwork/organization system. I need to finish a few items for it, but now instead of announcements, pictures, appointments, shopping lists cluttering up our fridge we now add it to our magnetic board. I really love it and am just now looking for a few more items to add to either side of it on the wall.

I used Daisy D paper, flower diecuts, and lettering. Once I got everything stuck down I modge podged all over it to make sure it stuck!

Not the greatest picture, but it works!

Matthew Musings for the week....

So we're having issues of Matthew not wanting to eat lately. Well, he does eat but only things like crackers, cheerios, and bread. He won't eat any vege's anymore and pretty much the only fruit he eats is applesauce and occasionally bananas. What is so frustrating is that he will eat something one day but not the next. Two days ago he ate 2 bananas (I fed him one and he wanted more), but the last two days he's refused to eat them at all. Maybe he got his fill for the month? Last week he ate peas and now he won't even touch them. I even tried to trick him and put his peas on top of his cheerios today but he's smarter than that, he just flung the peas off and then ate the cheerios. Other times he feels like he's done eating and then I find him an hour later fishing food off the floor. Tonight he decided he wanted to try my dried cranberries. I thought what the hey, let's see what happens and he loved them. I tell you he's so weird. I'm sure he'll hate them tomorrow.

He now knows how to drink out of a cup although he doesn't do it very well yet. His new thing to do in the tub is take his little cup and fill it full and then drink/spit/choke it out. He thinks it's so hilarious. I needed to wash him down today and he was not very happy that I was using "his" cup to do so.

He's also progressing with the whole walking thing. I am not pushing him to walk, we just try to praise him when he takes steps on his own. During the day he'll take a step here and there and usually does better when he's distracted by holding something in both hands. He took 8 steps on Tuesday when he was holding some heavy items in both hands (for the life of us we can't remember what it was). He's standing unassisted all the time now and yesterday he walked from our front room to our family room holding onto one of my hands. He's getting there slowly but surely.

We've taught him that he's one. We ask him all the time how old he is and sometimes he'll put his finger up without us showing him and sometimes he won't. His little index finger is so cute! We're working on what a cow says and what a dog says now.

We feel so blessed all the time to have this happy, determined, curious boy in our lives. I think we both are sometimes still taken aback that we have this 1 year old cruising around and destroying our house. I've included a few pics that we took while in Beatty and Utah.

Loves his bread! He's always happy eating bread!

He's here with his Buddy James Michael Strasser (Heather Nielsen's son), Matthew is MJS and James is JMS. Can you believe how much difference 1 year makes? James was born on April 25, 2007 and weighed in at 6 lbs 11 oz. In comparison Matthew weighed in at 8 lbs 12 oz when he was born and is now 22 lbs. This picture was taken on Matthew's actual 1 year birthday-June 7th. Crazy how that first year just flys by!

We'll post more soon, maybe even about the new HP (that's how we refer to Harry Potter in our house) movie. We have a babysitter and our tickets are purchased and I am out of this house at 4 pm tomorrow to meet Jordan at the theatre-yahooee!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

Unfortunately for me Matthew's first birthday cake turned out like poo. I had found this really cute cake I wanted to make and "assumed" that Costco would have a nice unfrosted cake that I could use to make my cake. Well upon arriving at Costco the day of Matthew's birthday party I discovered there was no unfrosted cake. At this point I should have just bought one from there, but being stubborn I decided to go ahead with my plan. We got home from Costco I made the cake and cooked it on a sheet cake pan (big mistake). I wanted to make a layer cake with different tiers that looked super cute. The sheet cake made tiny tiers and then I made the mistake of using whipped frosting. Needless to say the cake was a big disappointment to me.

I have to say that I redeemed myself this weekend with Jordan's birthday cake. He wanted a round tiered cake so I decided to do the steps properly and make a beautiful cake. Here are the steps to take to make a beautiful two layer cake.

  1. Buy a yummy store brand cake and 1 tub of frosting for the middle of the cake and 1 tub for the outside of the cake. If you are adventurous you can make your own frosting. I did take the easy route for the cake/frosting.
  2. Make the cake from the directions (do not skimp on the ingredients) and pour into two 8 inch round cake pans. Actually before you pour in the batter, cut waxed paper slightly smaller than the bottom of the round cake pans. Line the pans with the waxed paper and spray with cooking spray and THEN pour in the batter.
  3. Cook the cakes until they spring back and the toothpick comes out clean. Let them rest until they have cooled.
  4. Remove the cakes and take off the waxed paper. Put them on a plate where they are completely flat and put them in the fridge to cool completely and harden slightly (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours).
  5. Take the cakes out of the fridge and cut off the rounded parts of the top of the cake so they are perfectly level. Take one cake that is right side up and ice the top (this will be the middle layer). I didn't use a whole tub of icing but about half of one. Once it is iced place the second cake right side down (so the bottom of that cake is now the top). At this point you can either return it to the fridge for about 1/2 hour or go ahead and frost the outside with a thin layer of icing (I used about 1/2 a tub of frosting). I did the second option. The reason you do a thin layer on the outside of the cake is to seal in the crumbs before you do the final layer of frosting. I also used a cake spreader which is like a smaller long pancake turner. This works much better than a regular plastic flimsy spatula. Return the cake to the fridge for another hour.
  6. I used the second half of the frosting and frosted the final layer on the cake. I love the cake spreader because it helped make the sides and top super smooth. I returned the cake to the fridge for another 1/2 hour-hour. This helped make it hard so it was perfect for decorating.
  7. I rolled out some fondant that I bought at Michael's and cut different sizes of circles out of the fondant and then wet the backs of each circle (to help them stick) and decorated the cake with them.

This was the kind of cake I wanted to make for Matthew's birthday but it didn't work out so Jordan got the pretty version instead. It sounds like a lot more work than it actually was. I just wish I had a proper cake stand now, instead I used a pie plate turned upside down.

Three and Three is 33 for Jordan and Ray

With the candles lit