The Awareness Factor

Envision the following…

My husband, son, and I are shopping at Costco. As we peruse the offerings we pass by the occasional food sample to try. We try to get a food sample, but there are so many people surrounding the sample tables that if we wanted to get one we would have to fight someone for it, normally a child between the ages of 5-14 (this is not an approximate age), or an entire family of 6-8 members that have positioned their carts by the sample table so no one else can even remotely pop in and sample something and say thank you. And because there are so many people vying for a sample they have gridlocked the area and you can’t even get through to keep shopping.  Thus, we normally do not even try to sample something because the situation is utterly ridiculous, and go a different way. End scene.

The older I get the more I rely on the manners I was taught as a young person. Sure, I had a lapse probably in my post-high school/early college years, but nowadays I really try to be courteous, be aware of others, and practice the golden rule. As I go through my daily life, more and more I observe a lack of awareness. Everything from people having a full fledged conversation in the middle of a grocery aisle on a busy Saturday to no one can get through to the slowest driver possible in the fast lane. I have to say it gets old. Trust me, I do practice patience on a daily basis with any situation resembling this because I taught junior high school for 15 years. (If you forgot, that’s teaching children between the ages of 12-15 with raging hormones, smart ass opinions, and almost constant drama. Let me say up front I did love what I did, this is just an observation.) However, as I continually watch people lose awareness of their current surroundings I ask myself, where has our awareness gone? Are we so into our cell phones, that we can’t possible move our cart to the side of aisle so people can get through? Is the conversation we’re having on our phones so captivating that we can’t drive in the slow lane and let everyone pass by? I think it bothers me more because I really try to make sure I am aware of others around trying to enjoy the same scenery as I am.

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In conclusion, I ask that everyone try to be aware of your surroundings. It’s quite possible that you just might help everyone else enjoy the same surroundings you are.

Colorful Kid Dinnerware

I think because I was raised by people that love to cook and I love to cook, I LOVE anything kitchen related (minus doing the dishes; thanks Thor)!  After having my son I was given another reason to browse kitchenware everywhere – enter IKEA.  

One day months ago I was at IKEA for an entirely different reason.  I can’t remember why, but I remember I was proud of myself because I made it through the bottom floor in 2o minutes.  If you shop IKEA you know it can be impossible to make it just through the bottom floor in an hour, so I felt like I won a bronze medal or something.  As we were waiting to checkout I saw something rainbowish in my peripheral.  It happened to be sets of kid plastic plates, bowls, cups and eating utensils.  Each set was $2-3 each.  SCORE!  Occasionally I’m guilty of being sucked in by a good price of something I may or may not need.  I could have waited to purchase them because Max was only 6 months old at the time, but why wait?  

    I can honestly say this is superb kid friendly dinnerware.  I personally like the bright colors, but all of it washes great and is microwave friendly.  If you’ve never browsed the bottom floor of IKEA, I highly suggest it for many household needs.

P.S.  Let’s keep it real, I don’t need any reason to browse kitchenware!  😉

Pleasant Surprise Cinema

I’ve always been a lover of vampire movies, James Bond movies, 80’s teenage girl movies, action-packed ass kicking movies, science fiction/fantasy movies, and the occasional romance movie.  If you haven’t guessed it, I like to watch movies.  I had no idea when I married Thor that one day we would have a movie theater in our house, go figure.

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Well, today I was feeling under the weather so I purposely laid low while entertaining Maximus Rex.  He had eaten lunch and I was browsing on my movie channels for some background entertainment.  I chose “Paddington“, thinking in the back of my mind I’ll change it to something else.  The exact opposite happened and we ended up (really me) watching the whole movie.  Sure, Nicole Kidman as the villain made me smile, but I just liked the entire movie from beginning to end.

I have to admit when this movie first came out I thought, “Oh, another kids movie with a talking bear.”  It’s funny though, when you end up having a kid you tend to tune into movies they might enjoy and have a good message.  Today this happened, and I have to say I have special place in my heart now for this movie.  I highly recommend it if you need a break from a animated children’s movie and you’re in a need of a warm fuzzy two hours.

 

Ah, Tradition! KY Derby 142!

I have moved around my entire life and lived in various locations including North Carolina, Florida, California, Washington, Panama (summers as a teenager), Kentucky, Idaho and Utah.  Many people always ask me if I had a choice where would I live exclusively and I used to say Washington state, but as life has progressed I will now answer with an enthusiastic – Louisville, KY!  One of the many reasons I answer that way is the tradition of the Kentucky Derby.

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 When I lived in Louisville all of us teachers would attend the Kentucky Oaks (the day of races before the Kentucky Derby), and would enjoy the hospitality of the infield  (so many fashion tickets to give, and yet so little time).  Then when I moved to Utah we had to balance hosting a Derby party or flying out to the Bluegrass State for the real thing.  A couple of years ago we hosted our first Derby party, and then last year Maximus Rex was born during that weekend so instead we broke out our flasks and watched the races in the hospital. 🙂  This year we carried on our tradition and had a grand party.  

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Big hats were worn, mint juleps were drank, betting on the horses ensued, and good times were had by all!  Although the party was grand, I will always encourage anyone who has the opportunity to attend the Derby to take it.

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Until next year…Ciao…

Wish I Were Dumbledore

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There are days when I feel like I’ve accomplished at least 75% of what I set out to do in a day (I’ve had to lower my expectations with Maximus Rex), and then there are days where I’ve accomplished 5%. This picture represents my mind right now and what’s going on inside it. There are so many things I WANT to do (inventory all my photos since 2013, blog more, read the never ending pile of books/magazines laying by my desk, chronicle Max’s adventures, etc.), and NEED to do (clean, party planning, deep clean, renew my teaching license, etc.) that the decluttering will commence as soon as I post this.

It’s time to get rid of the cobwebs, reprioritize, add and take away from my to-do list and live vicariously through Dumbledore.  End scene.

Idaho Trail ‘n Meet

Starting last summer/fall, we (Thor, Sparkee, Jack, Maximus Rex and myself) decided we were out to discover all the parks/trails/places we can walk a stroller on and see their beauty.  Recently we went to visit Mama Tina and Chuck and found a gem in the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve which is part of the Idaho (Boise) parks system.  Although it was causual get to the park visit, we’ll definitely be back for a more thorough visit when I remember to wear more suitable clothing.  The reserve has nice trails and great animal viewing (ducks, other bird life, possible otter sighing and big fish).  However, there are no dogs allowed, fishing, or swimming.  I do understand why this is the case, but I’ve always wanted to see Sparkee chase a few birds.  I know, it’s not fair to the birds but it would make a great video.  🙂  Here’s to more new discoveries in the future.

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This bird would have possibly let me ruffle a feather or two.

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Garlic Pork with Tomato and Basil

For a long time we ate a whole bunch of pork tenderloin in this house and then over time phased it out and only featured it occasionally.  Slowly, pork has been making a place in the weekly menu rotation again and this recipe gets better every time.

I really discovered this dish when reading, “Way to Cook – The  Complete Visual Guide to Everyday Cooking,” by Cooking Light.  I did grow up cooking watching my grandfather (Miss ya, Pops!), and my mother, but there are certain basic cooking techniques and knowledge I feel I still need to learn to improve my cooking.  Many assume because I love to cook I know more than I do and are surprised to find out I really had never made homemade mashed potatoes until a couple of years ago.  Shocking, I realize, but it’s just something I never got around to until that point.

I found this book in T.J. Maxx for next to nothing and it’s been pretty insightful.  For example, when I would cook with tomatoes normally I would just cut them up seeds and all and throw them in the dish.  Even if the recipe called for me to seed the tomato, I didn’t think it matttered.  Well, after making two batches of salsa this past summer and reading this book seeding a tomato really brings out the flavor of a tomato.

Besides the tomatoes, this recipe keeps it simple.  As you can see pork, tomatoes, green onions, and fresh basil are the main ingredients.  Sure, there’s some seasoning and cornstarch, but otherwise pretty simple.  I’ve always been a supporter of less is more.  We hope you enjoy this dish as much as we have, and now you have one more use for your upcoming summer tomatoes!  Ciao…

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 oz pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp cornstarch, divided
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 freshly ground white pepper
  • 3 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp Sriracha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong)
  • 2 tsp peanut oil
  • 2 tsp minced fresh garlic
  • 2 cups chopped, seeded plum tomatoes (about 3 tomatoes)
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces (about ¼ cup)
  • 2 cups hot cooked brown rice

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METHOD

  1. Combine pork, 1 tsp cornstarch, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, tossing to coat.
  2. Combine water, oyster sauce, sugar, Sriracha, and remaining 1 tsp cornstarch in a small bowl.
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, swirling to coat.  Add minced garlic and pork mixture; sauté 3 minutes or until pork is done.  Add chopped tomatoes, sauté 1 minute.  Add cornstarch mixture; cook 1 minute or until thickened.  Add basil; stir to combine.  Remove from heat, and sprinkle with onions.  Serve with brown rice.

The Organized Functional Movement (TOFM)

Since the personal job change occured I have been getting in tune with my home again.  Normally, it would happen during the summer or some school break, but now that I hang out at home more I have the time.  The result has been a progressive movement to make every space in my house as organized and functional as possible.  I have always gotten a cleansing feeling from throwing away stuff I don’t need, use or want anymore and then making the space organized and cute.  (Insert NERD ALERT!)

Some might dread this type of stuff, but ever since I helped a friend move her parents that owned/collected way too much stuff I find joy in purging anything from my house that hasn’t served a purpose in some time.  Plus, now that I have an almost toddler roaming the house it is imperative that each space is functional.  This means I can find things, put them back quickly, and use every nook and cranny of each space.

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This sums it up sometimes, but other times I just get joy out of looking at a very organized space.  (Insert GAG ME WITH A SPOON for some people.)

Finally this post brings me to the point of my lastest product euphoria – magnetic spice tins.

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I really should have transitioned to these awesome little items years ago.  During Thanksgiving I had noticed my mother had redone her spices in her pantry into glass jars with a sealed top.  I liked the look, but getting spices in and out of my pantry would be too far away when cooking, and glass jars don’t have the sprinkle holes when you only need a sprinkle.  Here’s a closeup of the spice tins…

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I would really recommend anyone looking to save space to use this method.  You get labels for the spice tins here.  You can order the tins themselves here.  (I ended up getting 12 at Amazon, then ordered a second set from them but they kept messing up the order so I ended up getting the final ones from Bed, Bath & Beyond.)  You will also need to order the magnetic metal backing to attach the tins on which you can find here.  I made the mistake of thinking the tins came with the backing because I didn’t read it closely – whoopsie!

This is the first of many posts from ‘The Organized Functional Movement’ to come since I’m on a mission lately.  Also in the works are glimpses into my redecorating of the house, more recipes posts and hopefully some outings with the kiddo!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Ciao…

 

Cheddar Cornbread Jalapeno Poppers

According to my Mom, I never liked eating hot food until I was around eight years old.  When I say hot, I mean anything that was spicy, had a little bit of heat, or anything like it.  She said that when I would eat Chinese food I would only eat white rice and wonton soup if that gives you a visual of my bland eating ways.  In my defense I was young and needed to develop the diverse food palate I have today.  Luckily, today I eat a variety of foods and love spicy.  (Even when I was pregnant there wasn’t a spicy food out there that bothered me, and I had heard when you are pregnant those type of foods don’t normally agree with you.)

Well, if you like just a little heat the following recipe is for you, and if you like more heat you can make it hotter. These jalapeno poppers are lower on calories than your traditional poppers but still big on flavor and that’s why I break them out on occasion, like this past football season.  Enjoy! (Courtesy of Clean Eating Magazine.)

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INGREDIENTS

    • 20 medium jalapeno peppers
    • 1 cup spelt flour or whole-wheat flour
    • 1 cup cornmeal, finely ground
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • ½ tsp cumin, ground
    • ¾ cup low-fat plain yogurt (I think I added more)
    • ¼ cup egg whites
    • 3 tbsp raw honey
    • 1/3 cup cilantro sprigs, chopped
    • 3 green onions, thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)
    • 1 ¼ cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese, divided
    • 1/3 cup low-fat sour cream (optional)
    • 1/3 cup all-natural jarred salsa (optional)
    • Plastic gloves (jalapenos)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Wearing gloves cut stem end off each jalapeno and discard.  Cut peppers in half lengthwise, and using a small paring knife or a teaspoon, carefully cut or scoop out seeds and discard.  Place peppers cut side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet; set aside.  (NOTE:  Most of the heat in a jalapeno pepper is in the seeds.  By removing the seeds, we’re left with a flavorful pepper with a great little kick.  Always wear gloves when handling hot peppers.)
  3. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, chili powder and cumin; set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt, egg whites and honey.  Add yogurt mixture, plus cilantro, green onions and 1 cup cheese to dry ingredients and mix well until just combined.
  5. With gloves, spoon about 2 tsp mixture into the center of each jalapeno half.  Smooth tops of mixture and place jalapenos back into baking sheet, filling side up.
  6. Place tray into oven and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven, sprinkle stuffed jalapenos with remaining ¼ cup cheese and continue to bake for 2 more minutes or until top is golden brown and cheese is melted.  Let cool at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving.  Arrange on a platter and serve immediately with sour cream and salsa for dipping, if desired.

Southern Winter Retreat


Utah the second time around continues to amaze me with its diversity, geographically at least.  The above snapshot is of a walking trail in Washington, Utah (St. George area) and I find it totally gorgeous.  However, it’s even more appealing because this is what I have been living in (like everyone else in the Wasatch front) for the past week…

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You can barely make out a mountain back there because of the inversion (hot/cold weather fronts trap pollution in our valley) has been SO awful.  As we traveled from our house to the St. George area it didn’t clear totally up for a good 150 miles; seriously.  Here are some more shots as the journey progresses and the air starts to clear…

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After we passed Filmore it finally was pretty clear.  I don’t really think people understand what it’s like living in a constant fog/smog like environment until they’ve experienced it.  Of course, being the silver lining type of person I am, when it gets this bad in Utah I think of a much more polluted place like parts of China and think we’re doing alright.  BUT I know we’re not doing alright especially if it’s not safe to take my 9-month old out for a walk.  I started to think of the movie, “The Mist”, and wondered if things were hiding in the smog.  (True confession – I’ve never seen “The Mist”, but wonder if things are hiding in the mist waiting to gobble you up.)

Back to the beauty at hand this past weekend.  We took walks and enjoyed as outside air we could get our hands on, and spent some time with Grandpa and Grandma Call as well.

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This was our last walk and if I lived in this beauty daily it would take quite a bit to stop me from enjoying every aspect of it.  End scene.