Monday, January 31, 2011

January Book Reviews

I am so proud of myself! I read three Nicholas Sparks books this past month! Each day I tried to have a healthy balance of exercising, cleaning my house, organizing my recipe book, helping my children with their homework, spending time with my family, making nutritious dinners, reading scriptures with my family, and reading some Sparks books. I am so excited to cross out three books off my New Years resolution list! Yay!

I absolutely loved these characters in this love story! They were older, wiser, been through a lot in their lives, and were able to help each other overcome their grief. I was amazed how quickly these people fell in love in a matter of days and through letters. Sparks never leaves me emotionless. I cannot help shedding tears for that couple! I need to rent  Nights in Rodanthe DVD.   I have never seen it before and glad I read the book first.

This book is definitely one of my top five favorite books of all time! I love that it is safe/clean for my 11 year old daughter to read. It is a beautiful tale about young true love. I bailed my eyes out from finally figuring out why Sparks named the book A Walk to Remember. I didn't get it when I saw the A Walk to Remember  movie and now I do after reading the last few pages of the book, duh! It was a bitter sweet story that confirms to me what true love is! After reading the book, I was extremely dissatisfied with the Hollywood version. The movie only took little pieces from the book and didn't tell the story correct! Grrrr, how frustrating! I loved the movie by itself but it didn't measure up the written pages from the book at all!

This book was slow to read in the beginning for me due to the military lingo and different character development style, which Sparks started doing in the last couple books. In the middle of the story, it finally took off for me! It was okay to be honest not one of my favorites at all from him. I did not cry reading this one due to the fact I didn't feel convinced about the couple's love for each other in the book. It wasn't Sparks typical sappy love story theme. It was more like a mild thriller and suspenseful novel for me.  It could be a okay movie since it has some action in it!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Busy Box for Kids

Busy Box (Games for Kids)

For our recent activity day, my co-leader and I made a Busy Box filled with some fun HOMEMADE winter games for a family in our ward with small children. Our activity girls helped us cut things out and decorated the box. The busy box included the following instructions and supplies:

Snow Balls - We gave them two stacks of random magazines. Allow the kids to have a fun time ripping out all the pages in the magazines and wadding them up into balls. Collect all the "snow balls" into a pile ontop of a large blanket. They can then take turns running and leaping into the pile of snow or they can each hold one corner of the blanket and shake making a snow storm.

Snow Painting - Give each kid a spray bottle with paint and let them outside to paint pictures on the snow. We filled the spray bottles with acrylic paint and alcohol.

Moon Mud - We gave them a large box of corn starch. Mix one box of cornstarch with just barely enough water to make a viscous goo. Mix well and drop into a large cookie or baking dish. Moon mud should be runny when not manipulated, but turn solid when handled. Let the kids experiment with making balls out of it or trying to draw shapes in it (they won't form for more than a second). Then they can grab toys, trucks, and cars and have a great time rolling them ontop of or digging up the moon mud.

Coin Toss - Place tupperware bowl in a large pan or baking dish half filled with water (the pan not the tupperware). Have the kids take turns tossing their coins into the bowl. There are five pennies, dimes and nickels so there's no confusion as to who's coin made it in the bowl.

Tube Roll - We got four different sizes of wrapping paper tubes. Use the tape to combine the four pieces of cardboard tube. Place the box or bowl at the bottom of a set of stairs. Have kids take turns rolling things like balls or cars down the tube, trying to aim for the box at the bottom of the stairs.

Flying Fish - We cut out 1 1/2 inch by 12 strips of colorful paper. The kids will take one strip of paper and connect the fish tail together using the pre-cut slits. These fishies, if throw high enough by their tails, with twirl and spin in the air. They're especially fun to throw over a banister or off of a deck. They can take turns being throwers and catchers.

I Spy In a plastic bottle, it was filled with rice, wheat, lentils, etc. Hidden in the stuff are objects such as a nickel, penny, star, bell, crayon, eye, flower, letter, fastener, sport's ball, triangle, heart, gold bead, blue bead, shell, rubber band, feather, paper clip, and yellow pompom. Have the kids take turns playing I spy.

Glow in the Dark Food We included a box of blue berry Jello. "The secret to glowing food is  tonic water (diet tonic water works too).  It contains quinine, and guess what happens when you expose quinine to black light?fun, right??  So if you mix up a drink (like crystal light lemonade and add a little tonic water)you make magical glowing beverages!  Pretty much anything you can make that includes water can glow with tonic water like Jello. Now tonic water does have a bitter taste to it.  Adding a bit of juice or punch isn't very noticeable.  And if you do jello, you can use part regular water (half and half, or even less tonic) to minimize the bitter taste." I got this idea from Our Best Bites.

Cotton Ball Game- We gave them some cotton balls and green string. "Give each child a cotton ball. Use a piece of yarn as the finish line. Have the children get behind the line on their hands and knees and blow their cotton balls across the line. Whose ever crosses the finish line first wins!" This idea is from the baby sitter kit @ Wendy's Activities Blog

We also included a couple recipes for play-dough, finger paint, and giant bubbles.  It was very easy to put together because most of the stuff is recycled (wrapping paper tubes, water bottle, and cool whip containers) as well as household things we have lying around the house.  The box is wrapped, decorated, and ready to delivered to the family!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pork Chop, Baked Potato, and Salad

We tried a new recipe this week! We bought some pork lions and found a yummy smoky honey mustard recipe.

We grilled our pork chops on our big George Foreman Grill. I followed this recipe at Our Best Bites Blog. Smoky Honey Mustard Pork Chops We liked the recipe a lot but for some reason it was lacking something. We are thinking next time we make it marinating it for a while in the refrigerator before grilling the chops will help seal the flavor better.

Smoky Honey Mustard Pork Chops


4 4-6 oz. pork loin or sirloin chops
Kosher salt and pepper
Liquid Smoke
3 Tbsp. Dijon or whole grain mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp. honey
2 cloves minced garlic

Sprinkle pork chops with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Give them a liberal dousing of liquid smoke (you can usually find this either near the seasonings or the BBQ sauce/condiments in the grocery store). Set aside. Heat oven broiler to high or preheat grill. Combine honey, garlic, and mustard. Place pork chops on broiler pan/grill and cook for 4-5 minutes. Turn and cook another 4-5 minutes. You want the internal temperature to be at least 165 (that's a little pink inside), but you also don't want to overcook them because they'll become tough. So you may need to adjust your cooking times a little, bearing in mind that they have two minutes to cook after the initial 8-10 minutes. Baste with honey mustard mixture and cook an additional minute. Turn and baste other side; cook for one additional minute. Remove from heat and allow to stand a few minutes to seal in the juices.

As for the salad, I used what I had in my refrigerator and came up with this recipe below. I was very happy how it tasted! It was soooo good! I will definitely make it again in the future!

Bacon and Avocado Salad

5 bacon strips, grilled, drained, and chopped
1 head of iceberg lettuce, chopped
1 heat of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 medium red onion or half a large one
1 large cucumber, sliced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 large avocado, chopped
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Combine lettuce, red onion, cucumber, tomato, and avocado. Add bacon and Parmesan cheese. Toss the ingredients together. Top with your favorite dressing.

Baked Potato We salted them, rubbed a little vegetable oil on their skins, and then wrapped them in foil. We baked them in the oven at 350 degrees for one hour. We garnished our potato to our taste with the following: butter, chopped bacon pieces, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green onion, salt and pepper.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter Wonderland Scraps

Since it's brrrr cold outside. I thought I'd upload one of my favorite winter scrapbook pages!
Winter Magic, 2008

My girls had a lot of fun in the snow! The journaling says: The magic of winter is making a snow family come to life! Credits: The cluster of photo frames are by Gunhild Storeide from here and I used "Snow Bunny" kit by Laura Deacetis and Dani Mogstad. I used the following fonts: Jane Austen and Love Ya Like A Sister.

Got Creativity?

Last month I crafted a couple things for my girls this Christmas using my digital scrap-booking supplies. In their stockings, I wrapped a couple bookmarks and designed a small photo frame for my daughters. I even made myself a cute bookmark too. They were very easy and fun to make. I used my Adobe Photoshop Elements program to design my bookmarks as well as several digital scrapping supplies.

For the darling bookmarks, I used the following supplies: digital scrapbook supplies, ribbons, gems, wiggly eyes, a paper hole punch, glue gun, pink bow, and adhesive foam (for the 3D effect). The bookmarks measure approximatively 2 X 7.5 inches long.

Pink, wish, believe,& magic princess bookmark credits: It Pays to Believe elements, frog element, castle, crown from Ruby's Room elements, by Kaye Winiecki, Feelin' Friendly Paper Pack by Karen Fredricks @ The Lily Pad.

Orange and blue owl bookmark credits: Here Comes the Sun Elements and Sunshine Papers by Kaye Winiecki @ The Lily Pad. I used the following quote by Dr. Seuss: "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go."

I love my girls bookmark credits: TWIRL Collection kit by Shabby Princess.

As for my picture frame, I used a small wooden frame, digital scrap booking materials (printed out), Mod Podge, a brush, a couple embellishments, adhesive foam (like the craft dots) and a pink and white polka dot bow.

Credits for frame: TWIRL Collection kit by Shabby Princess.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chicken Cabbage Salad

This is my most favorite Asian salad recipe. It is a combination of a couple recipes I have tried and made over the years. It is sweet, salty, crunchy, and savory. It doesn't last more than 24 hours in my household!

Chicken Cabbage Salad


1 head of cabbage, shredded
2-4 chicken breasts, cubed
5-6 green onions (I prefer more)
2 packages of chicken or oriental-flavored Ramen Noodles, crumbled
3 T. sesame seeds
1/2 c. sliced almonds and 1/2 c. coconut, fried in butter and salt
1 can of pineapple tidbits or rings, cut up, and save juice for dressing
2 (11 oz.) cans mandarin oranges

3/4 cup oil oil or vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 seasoning packets from the noodles
2-3 tablespoons of sugar
Pineapple juice from the can

Combine cabbage, green onions, chicken, and Ramon Noodles. Add the sauce, fried almonds, and coconut. As for the dressing, put the ingredients in a glass jar and shake well to combine. Toss the dressing together with the other ingredients. Carefully fold in pineapple and mandarin oranges. Let the salad marinade for a couple hours. The longer it chills the better it tastes! Serves 8.

Monday, January 10, 2011

My 11 Goals for 2011

"May I invite you to rise to the great potential within you. But don’t reach beyond your capacity. Don’t set goals beyond your capacity to achieve. Don’t feel guilty or dwell on thoughts of failure. Don’t compare yourself with others. Do the best you can, and the Lord will provide the rest. Have faith and confidence in Him, and you will see miracles happen in your life and the lives of your loved ones." — Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I absolutely love that quote! For the past week, I have been reflecting on how I can improve myself better this new year. I have came up with eleven realistic goals for myself that I feel will not only benefit myself but for my whole family! I will do my best in accomplishing them! My 11 goals for 2011 are the following:

1. Organization and Time Management- get my recipe book organized! My recipe box is a cluttered mess and difficult to find anything! For my birthday 2010, my girls got me a photo album, dividers, and clear plastic sheets. I have been S L O W L Y compiling my favorite recipes either typing them or copying and pasting them into a file. In the future, I will print them out and add them to my book. Basically, over the years, I have collected recipes from all over the internet, cook books, family members, relief society sisters, and friends. I thought having all of my recipes in ONE book would reduce some time and stress in preparing a perfect menu plan.

2.Spiritual- read the Book of Mormon every night with my family. Improve on our church attendance, tithing/fast offerings, family home evening, and daily family prayers! Write in my gratitude journal!

3. Health and Fitness-Continue to shed some pounds by dieting and exercising. I want to keep track of my progress by journaling my food everyday on My Fitness Pal and exercise at least 5 times a week. Over the past few months, I have been doing Turbo Jam  which is a lot of fun shaking my body for 20-60 minutes a day! It is an AWESOME workout filled with aerobics, dance moves, weights, and kick boxing! When it gets warmer outside, I will start jogging again. I would love to enter another race. I have lost 17 pounds so far and need to continue my weight loss goals.

4. Meal Plan-Try a new recipe at least twice a month and get the kids involved! Instead of making the same entrées over and over again. I want to try some new recipes, which hopefully pleases the children's taste buds! My husband and I love to create food masterpieces in the kitchen. In the past, cooking has been a fun family activity for all of us. The kids love making pizzas, baking cookies, decorating cup cakes, making bagels, and so forth. I really want us to experience new flavors and add more recipes to my book!

5. Education- Register and declare my major as nursing at Salt Lake Community College. First, I need to request my college transcripts from Utah Valley University. Next, I will meet with a SLCC career advisor to discuss my credits that will transfer from UVU and get the list of classes that I still need to take before I can apply to the nursing program. In addition, I may need to get re-certified as an nursing assistant. So I may need to take the 6 week course and pass the written and skills tests. Twelve years ago, I worked as a certified nurse's assistant in a nursing home. It is frustrating to me to have to do the class over again. I believe it is a requirement to be a current licensed nursing assistant to get on the nursing school waiting list at SLCC.

6. Career- Get a job... After I complete my CNA training, CPR certification class, and become a licensed certified Nurse's Assistant in the State of Utah, I will find a part time nursing assistant job during the hours while the girls are at school.

7. Reading-Read more Nicholas Sparks books! How can I say that I am a Nicholas Sparks fan when I have not read all his books. I still need to read his following books:

Safe Haven

True Believer

At First Sight

A Bend in the Road

The Rescue

The Wedding

Nights in Rodanthe

The Lucky One

A Walk to Remember

I saw A Walk to Remember Movie and absolutely loved it! I own most of these books and they are just sitting on a shelf collecting dust!

8. Scrapping-Get caught up on my digital scrap-booking memories. It seems like that is always one of my New Year's resolutions, but this time I will be more specific. I would love to finish my daughters baby and toddler years books and get them printed out sometime this year! In order to do that, I need a better working computer that can handle Adobe Photoshop Elements 8
, lol!

9. Financial- I would like to budget our money wisely. My father and mother in-law have taught us a valuable lesson about managing our resources better. We want to be more like them. We will save, save, and save for a rainy day!

10. Developing Talents-- I have a creative itch! Last month, I made some adorable bookmarks and a darling picture frame. I will blog more about those later. Anyway, I want to explore some more hybrid creations using my digital scrap-booking materials as well as other crafting supplies. A couple months ago, Hubby and I walked around Hobby Lobby. Oooh, there are so many crafts that are exploding in my mind that I want create. My goal is to make many pieces of art that I can display in my home and share with others.

11. Self Reliant- Learn how to make strawberry and pear jam! As well as can some fruit this summer. I have an incredible visiting teaching companion who is very self reliant. She has inspired me to learn more about gardening, canning, making juices, and so forth! Thanks Ruthann for being a great example to me on living a more provident life-style!

I absolutely love that last canning image and it's appropriate to end this blog post now saying YES, WE CAN!!! Bring on 2011!!!!