Monday, October 20

Pumpkins With My Baby Pumpkin

On Saturday we went to the pumpkin patch with Dalin's parents and sisters (Cassie and Jensen), our brother-in-law (Shay), and our nephew (Maddox). We did the same thing last year and had so much fun and now that Tenley is a year old and can appreciate it a little better, it was a lot more fun! (I really cannot believe that next year at this time we'll have a two-year old and an 8-month old!!! Whatttt.)

Here are some photos from the day.
It was a little too sunny for Tenley's taste but she looked so stinking cute...
Her and dad both...we all have sensitive blue eyes :P
Grandpa gave Maddox and Tenley a ride in the wheelbarrow
I never know what to do with my hands...on the belly
Or below...? Two pregnancies and I still can't figure it out.
Baby model. I love the mouse ears on her sweatshirt:)
I love this guy. He also happens to be my bff and my husband so that's lucky:]
Love our cutie brother and sister-in-law and nephew:) They're great.
We took a hayride over to the pumpkin patch which was fun and also scratchy (the hay is super itchy but it's all part of the experience I suppose), and Tenley seemed to love it. The ride anyway, maybe not the hay or the fact that I wouldn't let her climb on it and possibly fall off. 
Tenley had a mini meltdown on the hayride. But it was so cute I laughed and took pictures because she is a cute crier. 
Dalin picked out a giant yellow pumpkin (it's really cool), mine was just round and orange (with a curly stem--I always go for the prettiest stem), and Tenley's was a little baby one of course. She loved holding it which was so cute, though she kept freaking out because of the prickly stem (but then still held it anyway).
Love Maddox's face
Tenley's face hahaha...must be a heavy pumpkin
Only Mom was prepared...silly babies;)
It was a good time and later in the evening, Jensen and I carved the lid off my pumpkin and dug the seeds out to bake them! We had done the same thing last year and they seemed--if possible--even better this year!

If you are interested, here's the steps we used (I don't have pics because they were so delicious we ate them in like an hour but if I get the chance to make more, I'll add some!):

1. Collect the pumpkin seeds
2. Pull out as much of the squash as you can
3. Rinse the seeds in a colander to get as much of the pumpkin off as possible
4. Simmer in boiling water and about 1 or 2 Tbsp of salt for 10 minutes
5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
6. Spread seeds out in a single layer on a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil (mix around the sheet, then spread out)
7. Sprinkle 1-2 tsp of sugar across the seeds
8. Bake for 15-20 minutes (checking on seeds occasionally--they should be turning brown on the edges)
9. Remove and let cool. Test a few seeds, sprinkle more salt (and seasoning if desired) if necessary (the first time we did need more salt, the second time we didn't)
10. EAT THEM ALL! They are much better warm. I would maybe start preparing them 45 minutes before you need them (aka, if you're having a party or something)

So that's that. They're easy and delicious and they're also really good for you!

Jensen and I had so much fun making them (and they were eaten so fast) that we carved Mom's pumpkin and made another batch! That's how good they were.

Later that evening, the family played this fun board game called Masterpiece which I had never heard of but I really liked it. It's a blast and it helped that during our second game I got extremely lucky and won! Anyway, if you are looking for a good family game, I would look that one up! I'm going to try to acquire it one way or another (they don't make them anymore, so I'm checking ebay and some thrift shops where my mom has had great luck with board games before).

Well, I've got to unpack from this past weekend and re-pack for some adventures that will be taking place over the next week that you'll hear more about later.

Friday, October 17

Homemade California Rolls How-To (It's easy!)

Hey guys! Did you know that making sushi is actually really easy? Well it is. And I'm here to prove it to you. I think it's one of those things where once you learn to do it one time, you find you will remember how to do it in the future because it's really not that hard (other than rolling them which requires a little practice, but just watch Youtube and you'll be fine;).

The recipe I have is for California rolls (one of my favorite types of sushi) namely because they are delicious, and because you can eat them when you're pregnant! Woohoo! Plus, my friend happened to have a recipe for California rolls so that's what we're making!
Alright here we go.

What you'll need includes the following:

1 package seaweed
0.25 lb crab salad/ imitation crab (or 0.50 lb if you're feeding a large group or stocking up for the week)
1 cucumber (sliced thin)
1 ripe avocado (sliced thin)
Sticky white rice (I Youtubed a video on how to make it just right)
Special sauce:
3 parts mayonaise, 1 part Sriracha sauce
Rice flavoring (optional): 
2 tsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar (mixed and dissolved prior to adding to the rice)

Also Optional (for dipping your rolls in): 
Soy sauce

You will also need either a bamboo mat or a makeshift mat from a thick dish towel with Saran Wrap laid over it for rolling the sushi, and a very sharp knife (preferably a sushi knife).

Start with one sheet of seaweed (they come in thin, dry sheets and become moist naturally as the ingredients are added) on your mat, or in my case, makeshift one. You will want it laid out on a clean counter or table with your other ingredients pre-sliced and ready to use.

You will also want to have your sticky rice pre-made and slightly cooled since you'll be handling it. You can add the rice flavoring mixture mentioned above at any point and mix it in well. Like I said, I would just go on Youtube or Google if you don't know how to prepare sticky rice.

Once that is set, start with your seaweed sheet. Prep it by slathering about 2/3 of it with the special sauce.

Next, add a layer of sticky rice, spreading it out onto the special sauce. It doesn't have to be perfect since you're going to be rolling it anyway. Just make sure it pretty well covers the sauce. Then you can add the crab salad, cucumber, and avocado slices across the seaweed, like so:

At this point, there are a few options for rolling your sushi. I looked up a Youtube video on how to roll sushi and it really helped, but I'll try to be detailed in my explanation. I rotated my mat so the sushi stuff was closer to me. I slid the seaweed with everything on it to the edge of my "mat" and also toward the edge of the counter. Then, keeping my thumbs on the outside of the seaweed and using my other fingers to carefully press the fillings into the seaweed, I slowly rolled the sushi away from me. 

The key to successfully rolling sushi, in my opinion (and I'm far from an expert), is to roll slowly and tightly. In other words, continuously pressing the filling into the seaweed as you roll, and taking pauses while rolling to press or squeeze your roll from the outside to keep it compressed, for lack of a better description. 

When your sushi is completely rolled, it should stay sealed as long as the sauce and fillings have moistened the seaweed enough. If it doesn't stick, you can use kitchen sheers to trim the extra seaweed off. Add a little bit more filling next time to avoid that. It should look something like this:

Next comes the very sharp knife part. If you do not have a very, very sharp knife or sushi knife, I would use your sharpest serrated knife to gently cut into the seaweed (otherwise it can rip or tear). I don't know if it's the case with most seaweed sheets, but the ones I used had perforated lines to mark where to cut the sushi rolls which was helpful. 

Honestly, cutting was probably the hardest part because I did not have a sharp enough knife. The "rolls" I cut on either end of the roll ended up falling apart as a result (but it was fine, because I just ate the pile of ingredients right then and it was DELICIOUS and made me really excited to eat the rolls:).

This was the first batch I made. They were very delicious, but definitely not perfect in form. For next time, I planned to roll them much tighter, and to cut much slower so they'd be less rough around the edges. I had a lot more success the more I rolled, but sadly I did not think to take anymore pictures. That was mostly because the rolls were so good, Dalin and I just started eating them and couldn't stop and when I realized I should have taken another picture it was too late. 

But anyway, these were really not as difficult as I'd imagined and it was definitely something we will make again (plus, who cares if they look bad? They'll still taste amazing!). Plus the only "weird" ingredients were the seaweed and the crab salad (since once you buy the rice vinegar and Sriracha sauce they'll last for a long time) so it's something that can be made fairly easily (as long as you have rice, avocado, cucumber, and mayo on hand;).

I hope that you try and love this recipe! It's seriously wonderful and I think you'll be impressed by the sushi-making skills that you probably didn't even know you have! Now get to those California rolls!

Sorry I took so long to post it and know that I am having a wonderful time in Boise this weekend and hopefully I'll be writing about our activities here soon!

Lots of love,

Thursday, October 16

Don't Get Offended! and My Ridiculous List for Today

It seems like in the blogging world, it's hard to win. There are always going to be those who are critical of you (thankfully I have not experienced this recently--knock on wood--but I have in the past) and those who admire you and those who probably are jealous of you.

The thing is, you have to take blog reading with a grain of salt--in other words, bloggers are human, too and while their lives may seem practically perfect in every way, that's kind of their job to share their successes and helpful hints and ideas. Generally, people don't want to read about all the negative things about your life (as shown by a recent post I saw on Facebook telling SAHMs to "shut up"), though of course, too much perfection (or not enough misery, I guess) can irritate readers equally as much. I had a reader tell me this once and it changed the way I write a little bit.

I'm generally a positive and happy person and I love sharing details about my life with people, but I also try to be realistic. I share my stresses, anxieties, flaws, what have you. I try not to complain (that is pretty much reserved for my poor husband) but I strive to be very honest with you. I don't really care if people know certain things about my life (even if I'm not particularly proud of them--like my seemingly incurable impatience) because I don't care what other people think about me. I do, but I don't. I care because I'm human and I don't believe anyone can truly shut that part of them completely off, but I don't care because whether I am a certain way or not, there will always be those out there who judge me for my choices, my opinions, my lifestyle. And not only that, but I believe that I will be judged fairly by Someone greater, and so I don't see the point of letting others bring me down, especially since some people are just mean-spirited and enjoy being bullies. I do not like those types of people. Sheesh, just be kind.

It does happen from time to time--me getting upset over something someone said--for brief periods (I can't really completely stifle that part of me), but when it does, I always think of a quote by the last beloved Mormon prophet who passed away about seven years ago. He said:

I just think this is fabulous advice and it has gotten me through so many small trials in my life.

But anyway, enough of that for now--I wanted to share a recent success I had with accomplishing several of my goals, all with the help of making a list in my journal. I. Love. Lists. I find it so satisfying to check things off my list and more than anything, it helps me to get things done much quicker than I ordinarily would. Plus, because it's written down, it feels more like an assignment. It's on the list, so it has to be done. Here is a peek at my extensive list for the day (the house had a lot of messes until yesterday and today so that's why there is so much on here).

In case you were wondering about the middle part where I cycled in our warmer/ more seasonal clothes (pushing our summer stuff to the back of the drawers), I did that at Dalin's request because he only has one shirt drawer and it was hard for him to access his long-sleeved shirts.

The thing about that was that it motivated me to work on all of our other drawers and our closet, too. My stuff has actually stayed pretty organized, so all I had to do was refold the clothing items I wore once but that were in that awkward in-between-wanting-to-wash-and-wear-again stage so they just ended up on our floor or the bed.

I even went through and re-did Dalin's entire sock drawer. No, that is not a regular thing--I've done it maybe one other time in our marriage, but it just makes me feel better knowing that all of his socks have a match (and tossing all those dirty, holey ones that end up on my living room floor every. single. night).
Yes, I even took a picture of Dalin's sock drawer for your viewing pleasure. This photo almost makes me teary I'm so happy:)
Tenley helped--sort of--she kept tossing socks in the drawer before I could find the sock's match, but it made me work quite a bit faster, and I was listening to the talks from the Priesthood session of General Conference to keep my mind occupied (guys, those talks were amazing! I loved Elder Cook's). Anyhow, it just felt nice to know that every drawer is in ship shape before our trip to Boise this weekend! I'm very excited and looking forward to all the fall-ish stuff we will hopefully be able to do there with Tenley and Dalin's family. I am not, however, looking forward to the 6-hour drive with our one-year old. But I'm pushing those thoughts far from my mind for now.

Well, I'm actually about to go do a few more things (namely, the dishes, tidying, and bedtime routine items) from my list, so I better get moving so I can hurry and get to bed (yikes, 15 minutes until my "goal" bedtime for tonight? It's not looking good).

Thanks for reading! Tell me about your weekend plans or list-making! That honestly will interest me more than you think. Plus, I'd like to have some ideas to ponder on our long drive tomorrow!

Monday, October 13

Some Words of Encouragement Especially for Women, Wives, & Mothers

My blogging plans for this month have gone, well, not according to plan. There are so many things I have wanted to talk about on here, but time has gotten away from me, mostly due to completing my online schoolwork (I'm a tad behind on my plan to finish my class by September even though I've been so diligent about it! The reading assignments are longer than I anticipated). 

But that's life, and even though I'm sad October is half over and I haven't been able to enjoy it the way I imagined, the end is in sight. I'm really working on trying to keep an eternal perspective because lately I have personally struggled with being over-stressed, over-worried, and overly concerned with the ways I feel inadequate as a wife, mother, and homemaker. 

Because I am a Mormon, I know that I am a daughter of God and that I am not inadequate. But it is easy to feel that way when you watch those around you succeeding in ways that you feel you should be, too. I frequently feel as though I have let myself down when I hear about others accomplishing my same goals and my dreams. But I have realized how selfish and unfair that is to become jealous or  even feel saddened by the successes of others. I should feel joy for the happinesses of others. They probably worked very hard to get there, whether I can fully attest to that or not. I must also remember that just because someone has accomplished the same goal does not mean that I can't accomplish it, too. 

"If we prayed as much as we worried, we'd have a lot  less to worry about."

I have also recognized (or remembered anyway) that just because I only see the good times and impressive accomplishments of others does not mean that they did not have personal challenges or failures along the way. We are all imperfect and human and it can be easy to forget this (especially when social media makes everyone's lives seem so simple and rose-colored). And so instead of dwelling on what feel like my failures at the expense of others, I am working on celebrating their achievements and successes.

We are all at different stages in our lives. Even those who seem to be in the same place (those who are also married homemaker-students with a one-year old and another on the way in my case) may be further in their personal journey or not quite as far yet. I am striving to enjoy the moment in my own journey. I definitely can't wait for the future and am always thinking about it, but today is what I have to work with and today is when I need to: 
  • make personal changes
  • work hard 
  • serve others
  • love my family
  • be my best self
I am remembering that this life is about my family's and my own personal journey to return Home. I am my own greatest competition because I am a unique child of God and I am the only one He will compare me to. 

Every day, I have three choices: I can choose to remain the same without improving (or even trying to); I can regress to a worse state than I am currently in; or I can choose to be better than my past self. I can look at those areas that need improvement and actually try to improve them, or I can let them remain and persist. 

When I look in the mirror, I want to see the good things about myself. I want to see a wife and mother that is trying her best. I want to see the many things I was able to accomplish during the day, even if they seemed insignificant. I want to stop seeing every flaw in myself and noticing the flaws or shortcomings of others. I want to follow Jesus Christ because He did these things. He did not think of people in terms of better or worse than others but in terms of progressing or not. I want to give my "whole heart and soul." As wonderful Marjorie Pay Hinckley once said:

That woman was (and still is thanks to technology) a fountain of knowledge. I so admire her for her incredible wisdom. She knew just what a young mother needs to hear.

One thing I know is that for the most part, I am progressing. I have chosen a path that only leads upwards, and though I stumble (what feels like many times throughout the day), I am toiling onward because that is what I know I am supposed to do. It's a matter of obedience. I am obedient because I know that obedience brings happiness. And throughout my life, I have found this to be a truth over and over.

I hope that this post, if nothing else, impels you to try a little harder to be a little better. That's really all we have to do to be happy. And who doesn't just want to be happy?

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Here's one more reminder from the lovely Marjorie Hinckley...I need to remember this:

Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 4

Little Tidbits of Tenley

Hello all!

Tenley is at this awesome phase where she can understand me really well and communicates back pretty effectively and it's so much fun. I just feel like she's so smart and it's adorable. Every morning (actually, throughout the day) she goes to our pantry and opens the door, then pulls down a box of a snack she wants (or thinks she wants) and drags it into the room I'm in and brings it to me, with a look that clearly says, "Please, mom!" Then she does a cute little smile (she is very sneaky) and signs "more" until I either give in or tell her to pick a different snack (which she does).

Her favorite snacks by far are the Welch's fruit snacks (for obvious reasons) but she has twelve teeth so my concerns are that fruit snacks are not good for little baby teeth. She also loves raisins, which are equally bad for her little teeth. I try to help her out by giving her string cheese after and milk to neutralize the sugar (or whatever dairy does for that stuff), but I'm still a little worried. I try to be really good about brushing her teeth each night, but it's a battle every time. Some nights, she is awesome about it and I feel like I did a sufficient job, and then other nights I'm pinning her down and trying to tickle her to get her to show her teeth on her own but she knows that game now and is really good at keeping her lips closed. Anyway, I'm taking her to the dentist next week with me to get her little baby teeth checked out. She's had teeth since like four or five months old, so I really want to make sure they're doing okay so far. That should be an interesting appointment. I have no idea how they plan on getting a look in that stubborn little mouth of hers.

Also, thanks to Tenley, I'm getting really good at identifying the sounds things make--specifically from the next room. Like when she's moving magnets around on the fridge, or pulling trash bags out of their box, or dragging a cereal box into the next room with her (or dumping said box on the floor), or ripping up tissues, or getting into the trash can in our room, or flipping through books (and accidentally ripping pages). It's not my favorite game, considering I always end up with more work and cleaning up the inevitable mess she made, but it sure is good practice with patience.

Tenley is obsessed with bellybuttons right now. She is always poking hers or Dalin's or mine (or pulling up our shirts to find them), and I always tell her that her little baby brother is in there. Then she will sweetly give my belly a kiss and gently rub my tummy, only to jump on it seconds later as she attempts to crawl over me. It's a good thing babies are well-protected in the womb! Still, he is going to have to be tough to get by around Tenley. She was the most mellow baby and now she is the most independent and active and fun toddler. It will be so interesting to see how this next little guy turns out. I hope he is just like his sister because she's a wonderful little girl (or, if his personality is different, I hope he's at least as equally happy and awesome as she is). I know I'm going to love him no matter what though and I can't wait to meet him!

Speaking of our little fellow, I had a doctor's appointment two days ago and it was nice to hear his heartbeat sounding loud and strong. Dalin was operating the the doppler and it took him all of two seconds to find the heartbeat. He couldn't have guessed better if he'd tried. I guess with all the practice from Tenley, he's basically a pro now.  My next appointment will be the glucose test, so I'm less excited for that, but it wasn't as bad as I had expected last time so I can't imagine it would be worse this time. Thank goodness they found an orange drink for me at the last second though. I was getting really nervous about the cherry drink sitting on the counter in there since I do not like cherry flavoring (I love fresh cherries and maraschino cherries and I'm fine with cherry soda, it's just stuff like cherry cough drops, candy, and popsicles that I think are gross). Luckily my nurse is awesome and she checked several places until she found me an orange drink!

Well, Tenley is asking for "mumby" as she has been calling me recently (I guess she hears a "b" in mummy haha) so I better go give her some help. I hope you were all enlightened by General Conference today! Elder Dallin H. Oak's talk really stood out to me, and I liked the two after his also. A lot of great messages learned today! Makes me excited for tomorrow:)

Have a nice (chilly!) fall day!