Thursday, June 30, 2011

Facebook Discussion:

Just posted this on facebook. Would like to know your thoughts too. (More details on the house in a comment over on facebook.)

"What would you do? Buy your dream house but have to live frugally for several years, or buy something smaller and have more liquid funds. I seriously want to hear your thoughts. Cause we have to decide by tomorrow."

Leave a comment here or on facebook. Either way I need some advice. 

4th of July Dinner

I'm openly a hamburger, hot dog, chips and watermelon gal when it comes to Independence Day food. But, that doesn't mean you can't add a little extra variety to the spread. The Father's Day dinner I made this year turned out so yummy, I thought it would be perfect for the big grill day.

On the menu. 

  • Grilled Shrimp marinated in lemon juice, fresh garlic and salt.
  • Grilled green peppers.
  • Grilled zucchini. 
  • Watermelon of course. Along with pineapple, mango and berries.
  • Chips and my super yummy salsa. (this post sees more traffic than almost any other one on my blog)
  • Chunky guacamole
And the stars of the table - 

Beef Empanadas with Creamy black bean dipping sauce.

Recipe from last month's Bon Appetit Magazine. I changed the amounts a bit to make fuller empanadas than what it called for. I thought they needed more filling. My version will make 16 empanadas. 

-2 T. olive oil
-1 lb. ground beef
-6 garlic cloves, minced 
-2 T. tomato paste
-1/2 t. cayenne pepper
-2 t. ground cumin
-1 cup chopped cilantro
-Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
-2 Thawed 17.3 oz. packages of frozen puff pastry 
-2 egg yolk, beaten 

1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, add beef and garlic; cook, stirring and breaking beef into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until beef is cooked through.
2. Add tomato paste, cumin, and cayenne. Cook, stirring often, for approximately 4 minutes. 
3. Add cilantro, season to taste with salt and pepper. 
4. Preheat oven to 375. 
5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut each pastry sheet into 4 squares, totaling 16.

6. Spoon filling equally into the center of each square. Fold edges over, forming triangles, and press to seal. 
7. Crimp edges with fork.
8. Divide empanadas between sheets.
9. Brush tops with beaten egg yolk.

10. Bake until tops are puffed and golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
11. Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce. 

Dipping Sauce 
-1 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
-1/4 to 1 cup sour cream
-1 tomato chopped
-2 large scallions, chopped
-Garlic salt &; freshly ground pepper

Puree beans and sour cream until smooth. Stir in half of the tomatoes and half of the scallions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the remaining tomatoes and scallions over top.

Not too shabby.

The next day I reheated the Empanadas in the oven and served with sauteed haricot verts. (My favorite veggie!) It was absolutely divine.


Oh. Can't leave you hanging for dessert now can I? This is the scrumptous treat I came up for last year for 4th of July.

I wanted a red, white and blue dessert, but I didn't want to go the regular routes. Instead I decided on key lime pie. With red food coloring. Genius? Yes. Add a star of blueberries and you have a perfectly refreshing and festive dish for your fourth of july barbeque.

Hope this gives you some ideas for this weekend. I'm going on vacation! See you next week :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Turquoise Lovelies

Putting an offer on the most incredible home today. Oh I hope we get it! As soon as I walked in, I thought how this was a home that needed some turquoise decor. (With some yellow accents of course.)


(Sadly, this is not the house we are hoping to buy. Just in case you were wondering. This is the beach house I like to fantasize buying after I win the lottery.)




The winner of the Your Daily Jewels giveaways is Made by Tammy.

The two second place (homemade earrings) winners of my reader's appreciate giveaway are:
  A City Girl and Lisa B.

Congrats! Email me within 48 hours and I will get you your prizes.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Natalie's Going to Hawaii

Natalie's Going to Hawaii

Ordered a new black tankini. Have a black and white beach tote with matching hat. A yellow maxi dress for our sunset cruise. Yoga pants for the resort's daily beach class. Lots of beachy blue to bring out my eyes and tan. (It could happen.) What else do I need???

Friday, June 24, 2011

My fifty year old self

Sometimes the only thing that keeps me sane is the soft whispered messages I receive from my fifty year old self. Natalie at age fifty knows a lot more than Natalie at age 33. She has learned from her mistakes and has decided, quite graciously, to whisper little reminders to me. I'm not sure exactly how it works. Something about the space time continuum. She says that in 15 or more years there's an app for it.

So fifty year old Natalie and I have a deal. I promise her that I will wear SPF everyday and never step foot in a tanning bed. I will keep my teeth in good shape. I will keep the romance going so that 50 year old Shane is still around. I will watch my salt intake and keep the cholesterol low. She has no opinion on my drinking Diet Coke.

In exchange, fifty year old Natalie sends me little messages. Like yesterday, when Collin had been kept up from his nap a little too long. He screamed and cried in my arms, yelling "Mommy!" over and over again. He was hot from the day and couldn't calm himself. After 15 minutes I was getting a little frustrated, but I knew if I put him in his crib this riled up, he would get far worse. Fifty year old Natalie has a 19 year old Collin. He is away on a mission for our church far away and she misses him more than she ever thought possible. She sends me a glimpse of her longing, and I hold my baby closer. I blow softly on his cheek and feel his soft skin and chubby hands touching my face. I try to memorize the feeling so that fifty year old Natalie can pull the memory from the deep recesses of her mind. She and I cry together in joy and sadness.

Sometimes I think that I will go crazy if I have to be in the same house with Lydia for one more moment. Sometimes she is the sweetest, most fun girl I could imagine. But some days it seems her goal in life to disagree with everything I ask and be as rude as humanly possible. I think to myself, if only I could have a day where I don't have to discipline anyone. Where I didn't have to try to deal with snarky remarks calmly. If I could have license to scream my head off to release some of this frustration. If only this raising children thing wasn't so incredibly hard. Fifty year old Natalie has a 22 year old Lydia. They have had their share of struggles. Now Lydia is away at school and calls back to check in every week or so.

Natalie whispers about the day when she realized Lydia didn't want her as a playmate anymore. The day when she stopped asking her to play games and dress up. When she stopped coming in to her bed at night after a scary dream. Natalie whispers ardently that there are only a few years left. That each day is a gift and a chance to develop a relationship with Lydia. She tells me I will weep when I discover my child is a young woman and my chances at play and cuddle and mommy are over. Her whispers become an almost constance humming "Just play with her. Just hold her close. Just love her".

Fifty year old Natalie has three children. She won't tell me if the last is a boy or girl. She knows I'm scared to have another. She knows my pregnancies are hard and painful and that I'm already exhausted with the two I have. What she reminds me is this last baby is a gift to my other two children. That instead of just each other, they have this one more sibling for support. This baby is still at home with her. He (?) is in the kitchen doing homework at the table. He just got his drivers license. She says she cannot imagine her life without him. When he looks up at her and smiles, she sends me a glimpse and my hand touches my belly, wondering when it will be time to bring him into the world.

I'm grateful to my fifty year old self. She reminds me why it's my goal to have A Passionate Joy in the Present.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Bucket List.

I've enjoyed reading several of your summer bucket lists.
Summer is just starting here in Boise, so yesterday for Family Home Evening we made our own family
summer bucket list. Shane and I added a few just for the two of us.....

Summer 2011

1.  Spend day at Roaring Springs water park.
2. Camp in backyard 3 times.
3. Go on a fancy date where I can wear my new sequin top.
4. Stay up late and watch fireworks as a family.
5. Spend an entire rainy day watching Pride and Prejudice. Just the kids and me and popcorn.
6. See Harry Potter. (Not with the kids of course).
7. Family reunion.
 8. "Spa Day" for Lydia and her friends in the backyard.
9. Stay the night at a hotel and swim.
10. Dinner and games at Pojo's.
11. Walk around Boise Temple and take photos.
12. Lydia to read all the BOB books.
13. Learn about how plants grow and plant flowers
14. Shane and I - Workout/run 3-4 times a week 
15. Get a swing set. 
16. Go to Hawaii.

That last one is just for Shane and I. Tickets are bought. Resort is booked. I could not be more excited!


The winner of the Reader's Appreciation Giveaway is Becky. Congrats! Email me and I will get you your prize!  

Don't Forget to enter the Your Daily Jewels Etsy Giveaway! There was some weirdness with my comments so there are crazy low entries. Get yourself some pretty bling for summer!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Our weekend was spent camping in the backyard. Still a little chilly here, but we'll take it.

Camping with a movie, candy and popcorn. These kids have no idea how good they have it. We all watched Kung Fu Panda together. Shane and I laughed throughout the entire thing. 
Collin mostly just wanted to jump on top of us all.

Shane even made s'mores on the grill. (He's rigging a clothes hanger into a double pronged marshmallow stick. I have to blog that sometime. It's genius.)

Today we had Father's Day.

And all Shane got was a lousy TV dinner. Poor Daddy. 
(cupcake instructions here)

He actually had it pretty sweet today. Breakfast in bed, nap, big dinner, lots of handmade cards and a few pretty cool gifts. And he deserves it.

Happy Father's Day to the best Daddy in the world!

(Want to see the flip-side of our weekend? Click here. Things aren't always so cheery.)


Don't forget to enter my Reader's Giveaway! Ends tomorrow.
The "Your Daily Jewels" Giveaway ends Friday.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thoughts on running. And boobs.

While I was in Spokane I tried running. Well, more so walking/jogging. I did 5 miles a day, 3-4 days a week for 4 weeks. Lots of great hills. I slowly built up my jogging/ fast-walking ratio.

Here's my thoughts on that.

1. I don't think well endowed women were meant to run. I have a seriously awesome bra, but that is some major jolting. I actually googled breast reductions several times. Does anyone out there enjoy running who is in the DD club? Does it get less painful?

2. Running is awesome when it's beautiful.  (The above photo is the view from my parents house, looking right where I like to jog.) I knew the beauty of my locale would be inspiration enough to get me out the door while at home. But running around suburbia is really doing nothing for me.

3. I need a good playlist. A wonderful sponsor sent me an iPod Nano as a gift and I've never used it. (Shane on the other hand runs with it all the time.) I need some music to get me going. Do you have any suggestions? I love House music. Stuff that you would find at a dance club. I don't like country.

4. I'm better at dancing. I've been doing Zumba a lot lately and I really love it. I've never been good at sports, but I've always been a good dancer. I'm thinking that might be a better workout for me. And it's crazy fun.

5. Not giving up on running yet, but I'm not running any races anytime soon.
Still, kudos to me for trying!

Here's a little video of that sweet rainbow, just to add a little lovely to your day. That's my Dad's voice in the background, teaching Collin to do something. You can't tell, but it was a double rainbow. I started laughing so hard when Lydia came out and said "It's a double rainbow! What does it mean?" I think she has been listening in to Shane's and my pop culture references. Wish I had that on video.

I'm having the best few days! Kids sleeping in late (incredible!), lots of energy and my house is clean. It is finally reaching into the seventies here. Watched Lydia's ballet performance and she was so beautiful. I'm working out everyday. Had a great date night last week. (Super 8 was amazing!) Shane and I are decorating his new office and I love having a project to do with him that has nothing to do with the kids. Yes, the kids are still driving me crazy in their own spectacular ways, but I've discovered that if you just expect your two year old to act like a two year old and your 5 year old to act like a 14 year old, its easier to deal with it. Of course, everything is easier to deal with when you're rested.

I'll probably have a complete meltdown next week, so look forward to that!

(Don't forget to enter my Reader Appreciation giveaway!)

Sunday, June 12, 2011


As Shane and I scoure the MLS for homes, I keep wondering how big of a house we need. Right now we are in a 4 bedroom with a study and it really fits our needs. I would love a basement, but that isn't really a Boise thing. We want to have another baby next year. Will Collin and Lydia share a room so we can keep a guest room? Do we put the crib in the guest room? Should we look into getting a 5 bedroom? That seems excessive for only having 3 kids, but maybe that's the way to go. This will be our home for a long time.

For the first two years of marriage, Shane and I lived in a 350 sq foot basement apartment. We LOVED it. 7 foot ceilings, tiny bedroom, the mini loveseat barely fit the two of us. It was the perfect cozy love shack. We paid $340 a month and that included utilities. We talk about it longingly now. The small set of dishes. Our clothes in boxes under the bed. Having to take down the kitchen table so we could fit in a full size Christmas tree.

My friend April shared this video on her blog and it made me wonder how little I might be able to get by with. Of course, would I want to? This space wouldn't even hold my food storage and wrapping supplies.

Would you be willing to try it?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Kitchen Envy

Shane and I have started looking for a home to buy. Boise and I don't see eye to eye on architecture.  In fact, if Boise and I were married, the architecture would be driving us to divorce court. We've been looking for months and I finally found one home that seemed our style. We met with a realtor and we LOVED IT. The kitchen was perfection. Of course, we found out immediately after the showing that it sold. It had only been on the market 5 days. When we asked the agent where else we could find a house like that in the area, she just looked at us sadly. "Sorry. We don't see homes like this too often." 

I miss our cute colonial. And now I've got kitchens on the brain. 



This is the kitchen from my crack movie - Somethings Gotta Give. Perfection.

Could you just die?

Boise, I'm willing to work things out, but you have to come to the table with something. And by table, I mean a big granite island. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Movies you have to watch - like "have" to watch.

Do you have a movie you're powerless to resist? The movie that you have to watch if you are flipping through channels and it's on? I know you have one. Sound of Music?  Flight of the Navigator? Mannequin? Bridge on the River Kwai? They don't have to be good movies. (Though Bridge on The River Kwai is an incredible movie.) The pull they have on you may be on a level that can't be understood. Don't resist them. They are your crack movies.

I've got 5 movies that I have seen more times than I can count because I can't say no to them.

#5 - Twister.

I know. It's totally lame and unrealistic, but I really enjoy watching this movie. I like when they eat the steak and eggs. I love laughing at the end when the characters are being harmlessly sucked into the tornado with wind that would make a blade of grass deadly. After watching this movie I like to drive and around and yell "Debris!".

#4 - G.J.W.T.H.F. (I am making this shorter because if I use the full title, Porn sites lead here. WHAT is happening with the world???)

This movie is just pure cinematic magic. There should have been Oscars involved. Helen Hunt was even better in this film than in Twister! I know most of the dance moves by heart. It gives me "a cheek-ache from smiling".

#3 - The Mirror Has Two Faces

I'm not a Barbara Streisand fan per se. But she is hilarious in this movie. And Jeff Bridges is hilarious and hot in a weird, geeky kind of way. Watch with a box of snowballs.

#2 - The Holiday 

I watch this movie at least 3 times every Christmas. Jude and Jack - Yummy. Kate and Cameron - my dream soulmates. 

#1 - Somethings Gotta Give

My all time crack movie. Best thing is it's Shane's top crack movie too. It is just a great great movie. Great acting, great plot. Magnificent Cape Cod architecture. Jack Nicholson is at his best. And the crying scene(s) with Diane Keaton is hysterical. Makes me want to wear a turtleneck and grab some scissors.

Honorable mentions -

BBC Pride and Prejudice. Never on TV, but I bought the DVD set on my honeymoon promising Shane he would love it. He rolled his eyes and bought an X-Files season. (He loved it and we watched the entire thing in one sitting.) I think I've watched it 50 times, usually when scrubbing the kitchen.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Also rarely on TV but if I see this in your DVD collection I will stop our conversation immediately and start to watch it. Why don't I own this movie? Benjamin may not sing or dance, but I could watch him stand idly for hours.

So I've got to know. What are your crack movies???

Want to see my 5 worst movies of all time? Check them out here.
The comments are the best part.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

One thing every marriage needs.

I've only been married 10 years, so I'm not an expert. But here's one thing I know.

Every married couple needs to take occasional mini trips away that consist of just two activities.

And the other activity is eating.

Our 10 year anniversary trip will (hopefully) be Hawaii in the fall. But you know me, I can't let a big event pass without some celebrating. So for our actual anniversary we decided to stay where we spent our wedding night, at the Clark House on Hayden Lake.

Got myself a new outfit and a new do. 
I cut 6 inches off my hair and wore a dress that shows off my legs!

Not only did we spend our wedding night here, but we also had our wedding dinner at the Clark House as well. That's all a blur now since no one took any photos.
(Still a bit sad about that. Apparently there's a video of the toasts somewhere, but I've never seen it.)
I barely remember what we ate, but I do remember laughing for hours.
And that my sister Abby ate like 15 Crème brûlées

We got the same room where we spent our wedding night. It has the most incredible view of the lake and forest. We couldn't stop smiling for the first 30 minutes after we walked in. :)

We had fireside dinner (and breakfast) reservations in the same room that our wedding dinner was held.

This time we spent the entire dinner at the table, as opposed to 10 years ago when we kept sneaking into the hall to make out.

If we had all the money in the world, this would be the home we would build. And this lake would be where we would build it.

And we would hire people to clean it and mow the lawn.

This time around we were able to fully enjoy the gorgeous decor and historical architecture that somehow escaped our notice 10 years ago.

We walked around with our mugs of herbal tea, taking in the views of the lake and the hand painted murals.

But honestly, we stayed in our room the mass majority of the time.

Being married is fun.
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