7.24.2017

Proud Wifey

I am just bursting with pride! So much so that I decided to stay up super late so I could just brag to you all about it...

Jimmy hit 100,000 subscribers on YouTube today! (well, technically yesterday, but I am way past my bedtime)
What does this mean?
It means that after a decade of hard work and perseverance, Jimmy will be awarded a plaque from YouTube and just keep getting better from here.
It means that he is starting to get recognized in public and even may have been asked for an autograph a couple of times.
It means that a ton of people agree with me on how awesome this guy really is.
This is a pretty big deal.
He is a pretty big deal.
Great job, babe.

7.20.2017

BFF

While we were at the Hamilton's house last week, Vivy found a new friend. 
Actually, she found a best friend. 
She came in one day while I was in the kitchen working and stated, matter-of-factly, "I found my best friend!"
I was wondering which Hamilton child she would drag me to as she took my hand for the fateful introduction. I didn't have to go far. A few feet, in fact. 
Vivy introduced me to the trash can. 
She looked square at the can then commanded, "Show me it!"
The automatic lid popped open and she praised, "Good job!" 
Then she hugged it. 
My daughter hugged a trashcan. For the rest of the time we spent at the Hamilton home, Vivy would lovingly stroke her friend and continue to throw phrases of affirmation as she threw the trash away. I suppose Vivy will never have a problem finding friend, her standards are pretty low...

7.18.2017

Girls' Day Out

I decided to spend a whole day with Kate after Trek. We brought Vivy to preschool and started our day off  right- with exercise. And Bouchon Bakery.

After Bouchon, Kate and I went to the boutique shops in Yountville, one of which is a fabulous children's store filled with adorable, one of a kind (translation: expensive) clothes and interesting toys. As I was strolling around the store, I noticed the caliber of games. I am a game girl, so seeing different and exciting games makes my heart happy. In the toy section, the inventory matched in quality. There was hand painted wooden puzzles and education math toys and a lifelike spider climbing from shelf to shelf. I wanted to see that spider closer to see how it worked and shrieked. This was no toy! It was a HUGE (like bum the size of my thumb. Dude, it has to be big if I thought it was a freaking toy) black widow. I am well versed in spiders due to living in the country and sleeping with the windows open. This one threw me for a loop. I think it could have literally thrown me for a loop due to its size. But I digress... The shop keeper heard my scream and came over to check on me. .She also screamed.  Loudly. Which brought the attention of all the other shoppers, who came to investigate. And also screamed. It was kind of  like watching a study in pack mentality. I told the shop keeper that I would kill it and she gave me a measly tissue. I assure all of you that there was no way this beast was going down in a single ply kleenex. Armed with the multitude of tissues she gave me after the first was insufficient, I was poised to pounce. And then uttered aloud, "What's my exit strategy?!" I looked around in a panic for a toilet I knew would not be there. I was in a pickle. The shopkeeper called the janitor in my moment of fear. While waiting for reinforcements, my job was to keep the spider from hiding behind the toys and games, just perching to attack an innocent child. That task was harder than you think. Especially with a crowd of people watching my progress. The janitor was unavailable, but we got the manager of thwe whole shop collection. He came armed with the monthly budget, rolled up in preparation to strike. I don't think he got the memo. To Whom it May Concern: This spider is nearly the size of Rhode Island, prepare accordingly.
He hit the spider with great force, but it did not submit. No, this contender just ran behind a whole shelf of puzzles, getting ready for the next round. I am not afriad of spider normally, but I am not kidding when I say I terrified right now. I found this spider and turned it in. It will hunt me down with it's cronies and make my demise look like an accident. The manager slowly pulled out all the puzzles, found the spider and attacked again. This time, the monthly budget did its job. Praise Jesus. The mess was cleaned up with the many, many tissues I still held in my trembling hand. After that whole scene, I was ready for a more relaxing day.
Kate and I continued to peruse the shops. We headed into St. Helena when we were done, ready for lunch. I took Kate on her maiden trip to Rutherford Grill. It was so fun to experience that with her. Of course we got the skillet cornbread and oreo dessert. That is always a must. After lunch we went to a movie at the Cameo Cinema. It was a slow paced independent film that I lived for and a 13 year old teenager hated. But, the teenager got buttered popcorn, so it was a success.




We strolled thorough downtown St. Helena for a short while, but it was so incredibly hot, we didn't last too long. Then back down to Napa to choose a birthday gift for a friend and Panera for dinner. Dude. Dude. There is a new salad at Panera that was phenomenal. Arugula, watermelon, feta, quinoa, dijon vinaigrette. LOVED it. I sound so basic right now.
We completed our day with a trip to Ulta where Kate happily applied testers freely to her face. When there was no room left on her face to color in, we left. It was an amazing day with an amazing girl.

Another salad- because I need somewhere to save it


This salad is perfection in the summer

Blueberry and Feta salad with olive oil roasted almonds and honey balsamic vinaigrette

Salad:
butter lettuce
blueberries
crumbled feta
almonds (chop almonds, toss in olive oil and kosher salt and roast at 425* for 7-8 minutes. Do not skip this step. They make the salad)
Dressing:
Mix:
2 TB balsamic vinegar
2 TB honey
salt and pepper
dash of ground thyme
Whisk and drizzle in:
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil

That simple!

7.17.2017

Hanging with the Hamiltons: Day 4

Today would have been perfect had it not been hotter than a redneck butt on chili night.
Seriously, over 100*.
Yikes.
We had great morning with everyone. Cleaned the house, packed the car and headed out. We ate lunch at our place so the kids could play with our dog and cat. They watered the neighbor's garden and loved it. We decided to go to a great park that had peacocks roaming the grounds. The park was beautiful and well appointed and dang hot. So, so, so hot. But we all played on the three story high slide, found crawdads in the pond and collected leaves. Not a single peacock was spotted, but we did spot a person exercising their legal right to smoke marijuana when one of the kids said, "Do peacocks smell kind of like skunk? I think I'm getting closer!" We braved Costco with all the kids. Because, I am ambitious. And free samples.
The kids all piled in carts and we took them on a hunt for delicious little morsels hidden in paper cups. It was really fun. I don't know if it was necessary to even buy anyone dinner there, because we all feasted plentifully on the samples. But dinner was bought and (kind of) eaten. The heat started getting to everyone because our seat was right by the door where heat was pouring in. We had a couple of meltdowns that were easily fixed with a $1 churro. Cheapest peace I've ever bought. It was bittersweet to take to kids home to meet with their parents because it was seriously a joy to watch them. I was thrilled to see Kate. She glowing from the great time she had at Trek.

Thought of the day: Next time it is so hot, just plan to spend the ENTIRE day in Costco. They have couches on display and free samples.

Hanging with the Hamiltons: Day 3

Friday needs to be renamed, Crayday.
Because Friday be cray cray.
Kids out the door on time, check.
Everything else ran smoothly, not check.
Friend saves me with burrito, check.

I got all the kids where they needed to go and headed into work with Mac and Vivy. Kids at the preschool were fine-ish. until someone fell and scraped their knee at the park. And someone insisted they were dying of thirst. And someone ran into another someone coming down the slide as they were going up the slide. And someone didn't pick as many dandelions as they wanted because the field (and Miss Stephanie's hands) ran out. It was a typical tired toddler day.  After work, I ran to go get two of the girls, one of which would be at a friend's house. (explaining that would be too long and tricky, just go with it) Friend's house, no one was home. That's because friend was being an angel and buying me lunch and preparing to take the older girls. Older girls at a play date, Vivy taking a nap, burrito in hand, Grey's Anatomy queued up, ready to take my first juicy bite...
knock at the door. The guy who was supposed to install the A/C at 8:30 am was ready to install it at 1:46 pm. It's so funny, because, you see- 1:46 pm was also the time I was going to Netflix and chow. I let him in and discreetly hid my burrito as I walked him quietly upstairs. Upstairs, next to the sleeping feral child, hoping we wouldn't wake the beast. Fortunately for the installation guy (whom I would have taken out) did not wake the child. Funny thing, he didn't install the A/C either. I don't know what he was doing upstairs while I scarfed my burrito in a very unladylike way, but it wasn't until he drove away and I went to wake Vivy that I noticed nothing was done. Errr... instead of waiting around trying to solve that puzzle, I grabbed a gymnastics leotard (for the kid, not me. Wouldn't that be a sight?) And raced off  to get the girls for their afternoon activities.  We made a cray cray drop off/pick-up that I will list so you can get the full effect and proceed to ooh and aah over my mad skillz.
3:17- get to friend's house to pick up girls
3:18- listen to gymnastics attender explain that I brought the wrong sized leotard
3:22- pick up right sized leotard at the house
3:31- made it (just one minute late to gymnastics)
3:47- brought other girl to appointment
3:48- chase Vivy into the Thai restaurant next to appointment location because she was just intoxicated by the delicious smell and needed to see where it was coming from
3:50- Made it into the building where the appointment was located. Walked around the whole thing realized our parking choice was poor.
4:00- dropped off girl 2 for appointment
4:01- drove home to go get swim suit
4:31- Left home to get boy at preschool
4:47- Get boy at preschool
4:47-4:49- played trains with boy at preschool
4:53- pick up baby at daycare
5:02- pick up girl 2 at appointment
5:14- pick up girl 1 at gymnastics
5:22- go to the house and get swimsuits, order pizza, load the car and race out the door
5:23- turn around to go get forgotten floatie
5:37- pick up pizza and go to pool
Play, eat, laugh, have a grand old time with cousins and aunties.
 I just scrolled up and realized that schedule was overkill. You get it, I was frenzied. But folks, that does not compare with what happened next. I was dressing all the kids in their jim jams (because I am brilliant) and I heard my sister-in-law's car alarm go off. She ran out and tried to fix it to no avail. While I was loading the kids in our car, Jimmy was trying to help with her car. After my sweet (not so handy) Jimmy struggled long enough, I went down to help. After the very handy Stephanie located the fuse for the horn and Jimmy pulled it out, we finally got peace after over 25 minutes of honking. The theft detection system was disarmed after a helpful YouTube video and we started to drive away. My sister-in-law's car refused to be put into gear. So, we drove the kids home, I got them in bed while Jimmy drove back to drive our nieces and nephews home as my in-laws had the car towed to a dealership. This whole ordeal did not wrap up until after midnight. If I were to use one word to describe the day? Cray to the cray.

Thought of the day: Stephanie has very nice friends.

7.16.2017

Hanging with the Hamiltons: Day 2

Starting the day with a crying toddler at 5:30 am does not a happy family make. Vivy was upset that Jimmy went to work in the morning and proceeded to cry next to my bed. Once realizing that I was not to be roused from my beauty sleep, she moved on to the next victims. Ryann and Cara were awoken by Vivy's wails. We still got out the door early regardless of the rough morning, due to my perpetually thirty minute advance internal clock.
It took me the full morning commute and pet feeding to finally let go of the frustration with our unpleasant alarm clock. Just enough time to start prepping for the missionary dinner for which we had signed up.  Am I crazy?! (Yes. Yes, I am.)
The girls, as always were a huge help. They picked up the house while I cooked dinner. Luckily we were so efficient because Jimmy came home from work sick and was not able to pitch in at all. Dinner with the missionaries was... interesting. Usually we talk about investigators and the work the missionaries are doing. This time around, we had a new elder that had watched Jimmy's YouTube station at home and monopolized the whole conversation with language I did not understand. Fortunately, the food was good because it kept me and the kids occupied. Seriously, the kids downed everything. And so, I will leave a copy of the recipe on this here post just in case you want in on the action.

Thought of the day: How can someone so little cause so much turbulence?

Black Beans and Mango Salsa with Lime Crema

1 lb dried black beans
2 onions (one whole and peeled, one diced)
2 bay leaves
1 TB dried oregano
4-6 slices good bacon, cubed
2 tsp cumin
1 jalapeno, minced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper

In a large pot, place rinsed black beans, one whole onion, two bay leaves and oregano. Cover with cold water by two inches and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 2-3 hours. Add more water as needed. Meanwhile, saute bacon until crispy. Add diced onion and cook until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add jalapeno, garlic and cumin, cook until fragrant. Stir in cilantro and cook another 2 minutes. Set aside. When beans are tender, remove bay leaves and onion. Reserve cooking liquid. Still bacon mixture into beans and slowly stir in enough cooking liquid to bring beans to your desired consistency. Salt a pepper generously. Bring to a boil. Serve.

Mango Salsa
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 tomato, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 TB finely minced red onion
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
zest and juice of one lime
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients and serve over beans.

Lime Crema
1 cup sour cream
zest and juice of one lime
1-2 tsp chipotle in adobo sauce, chopped
salt and pepper
 Stir together and serve over beans.



7.15.2017

Hanging with the Hamiltons: Day 1

Back in February, during our stake conference, my friends and I were texting a commentary of all the was transpiring during conference. It was not Mystery Theater 3000 style in that we were not being negative or satirical. We were, however having a steady stream for the whole thing. During the conference, the subject of Summer activities to take place this year was brought up. Among those activities was Trek. Trek is a trip the teenagers take to appreciate the pioneer heritage of the early pioneers. As the stake president admonished all to make sure the youth made Trek a part of their Summer, my friend Brittani texted to the group, "I feel like I am supposed to be a Ma for Trek". And that is when I felt equally pulled towards a desire to serve and offered to watch Brittani's kids while she was gone. And so, here we are, months later both of us ladies fulfilling the promptings we felt. And so I begin a mini series on this here blog: Hanging with the Hamiltons. Here's how day one went down...

WE arrived at the church at 6:30am to meet the group to begin Trek. Now, the email said 6;45 am, but I like to be early. Apparently, I am the only one who likes to be early when the call time is before 7:00 am. Seriously, we waited in an empty parking lot for what seemed like an eternity when compared to how much longer we could have laid in our cozy beds. WE sent Kate off in her braids and bonnet and went to go check on Britt's kids. When Jimmy and I got to the house, the kids were all up and getting ready for the day. It was quite inspiring to watch everyone making their breakfast and picking out their clothes because when Kate is in charge of those tasks, she takes full advantage of her independence. These kids were making oatmeal, BACON AND EGGS, cereal. Kate will make herself an ice cream sundae if I do not directly tell her to choose a breakfast food. The morning ran smoothly in terms of getting everyone out of the house. We got to the first stop half an hour early. Thank goodness I have a DVD player in the car, because Beauty and the Beast saved us from utter destruction. After dropping off kid one, we raced over to camp two. Funny, no one was in the parking lot. Hmm... unfortunately, I do not know the campus (the very large campus) well and traipsed all over the place looking for the right place. Still, no luck. Ryann said, "They changed spots. It's not here anymore! It's at Lake Forest now." From the morning that we had, I knew Ryann to be trustworthy and googled 'Lake Forest, Napa'. The top hit was for an automotive shop. I may not know much about sports, but I do know that you cannot hold volleyball camp in a place with oil drips on the floor and a mechanic named Al. Unless Al played volleyball in college and has a real passion for the sport. But I doubt that...
I sat in the car with the kids for awhile trying figure everything out. Then it dawned on me, "Ryann, did you mean Las Flores??" She shouted, "Yeah! That's the place, Lake Forest!"
We made in time to volleyball camp. That's what happens when you're running 30 minutes ahead of schedule all morning. Too bad we didn't get to see Al. The two littles got off to preschool and daycare just fine. Vivy and I spent the morning feeding our pets at home and taking care of the neighbor's garden.
Our next goal was to get everyone to afternoon activities and dinner done. We did pretty well. Again, 30 minutes early to everything! I am in the habit of giving myself half an hour from where we live. Every time we left the Hamilton's house early it took less than five minutes to where we were going. Kind of nice. We got through to the point Beast turned to the prince when we done commuting for the day, so I declare that a win.
As I was busy patting myself on the back, I came home to Jimmy with Vivy and hit the ffirst snag of the day. For the 10 minutes I was gone with all the other kids, Vivy managed to thwart Jimmy. My little crazy used a scissors to cut off her ponytail. She now has bangs that don't lay quite flat due to their shortness. Nice. It was very kind of Cara and Ryann to make me a memorial of Viviy's hair by putting it in a ziploc bag adorned with magic marker pictures and glitter.

Regardless of the end of the day occurrence, I call this day a success.





Thought of the Day: We live very far away from civilization.

7.05.2017

4th of July

This year our holiday was pretty quiet and uneventful... until Vivy got a hold of it. 
 We started festivities with a viewing of the Silverado Resort fiireworks show on July 3rd. That was fun watching Vivy marching around to the John Phillips Sousa music. We didn't tell her to march, she just instinctively knew that was the right thing to do with that music. She narrowly missed a cactus or two while marching. I am surprised Jimmy survived with all the panic running through his veins.

We had a relaxing morning and we opted to sleep in rather than attend the parade. Best choice ever. 
The evening brought a water balloon fight with the family the began with a good forty minutes of filling up water balloons followed by a whopping 15 second fight. Still, fun was had by all. Mostly. Except for Danny, the three year old that got a balloon popped on his head. By his mother. Niiice, Melissa...

We were completely soaked and laughing all night. The BBQ was yummy and the kids loved the root beer floats. When it got dark, we all went to our church lawn to watch fireworks. After the first firework, and realizing that the trees covered most of the viewing, we high tailed it up to the Young Women's room to watch in the VIP lounge. That seemed like a great idea. It actually would have been a fabulous idea if we didn't have rambunctious children that had already revved their engines rolling down the grassy hill and wrestling. The wrestling continued in the dark YW room from which we viewing the show. One cousin got shoved by Vivy and spent the rest of the night on his Mama's lap. It was only when we turned on the lights that we realized that cousin was covered in blood. Oh geez... Vivy had pushed him into a corner, where he sliced his eyebrow. Luckily, I have a nurse friend that looked at it and determined he didn't need stitches. Like I said, uneventful and relaxing until the veeery end...






7.04.2017

Two salads: one my recipe, one, not so much

BOTH DELICIOUS.
For our 4th of July barbeque, I made two of my favorite salads. 
The first recipe- my own creation. It works well in a lettuce based sald or a pasta based salad. I used greens this time around. 
A rough recipe:
Butter lettuce
crisp bacon pieces
peas
feta
Dressing: 
1 TB shallots, minced
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
zest and juice of one lemon
 1/2 tsp dill
salt & pepper to taste
1/3 cup Olive oil
Second yummy salad
1 lb cooked pasta (I used whole wheat penne)
1 container mozzarella balls, cut in half 
2 pints grape tomatoes, quartered
2 handfuls torn basil
1/4 cup balsamic
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
(these are all according to how you like it- add more or use less of anything)



7.02.2017

Date Night


Jimmy and I went on a date last night,. It was so much fun to dress up. We decided to use a Groupon (seriously, groupon saves us sooo much). I knew nothing about the restaurant except that it served a fusion of barbecue and sushi. Well, doesn't that sound interesting?? I was excited to try because I freaking love sushi. Like, so much. When we got to the restaurant, the waiter greeted us and started some small talk. In that small talk he may have mentioned that we were at a Guy Fieri restaurant. Upon hearing that name, I almost bolted. I have never had Guy Fieri's food- but there was no way I was going to eat it now. I am not a fan of him. At all. But, we had already scanned our Groupon, so we gave it a try. Honest Review: sushi was okay, but the shrimp appetizer was the best shrimp dish I've ever had. Ever. I am embarrassed to admit that I liked something so much at this restaurant. But I am nothing, if not honest. After a quite satisfactory dinner Jimmy and I walked to the nearest movie theater. The tickets were only $3! For a current movie! Whaa?? As you know from my love of Groupon that I am quite a frugal lady, I jumped at the chance to go to a $3 movie. And then we got inside. Guys, I am not even joking when I say this place was shady. Probably due to the many broken lights. Using the bathroom before the film felt like a good idea. I suppose my conscience is broken because the bathroom didn't look like a good idea at all. Nevertheless, I persisted. After the (scary) trip to the bathroom, we sat in the theater. It literally looked like someone had just covered the top of a parking lot full of seats. Straight up concrete floors. The seat in front of me was broken and hanging on its hinges, which distracted me as I chose my seat. I got quite a startle as I sat down and was poked by a spring sticking out of the cushion. You can't make this stuff up. Jimmy and I just laughed and laughed as each new scenario presented itself. Except that my laughing died down a bit when I looked into my future and saw a vision of myself combing lice out of my very long hair. Jimmy wasn't going to have to worry about that...

Fortunately for me, the lice have not actually come to pass. The movie was okay, but the experience was top notch. I love adventures. Thank goodness Jimmy likes adventures too, because folks, I am no picnic. But, I will get you the best deal around! 

6.29.2017

Tahoe Trip- Sugar Pine Point Hike

Another great day, another great hike.
This hike was pretty fascinating because it was a trail used for the Olympics cross country skiing route. It turned out to be just over 9 miles. Ooops. Not something we were expecting. But the ice cream afterwards was well worth it. The kids were all troopers and we still had a blast even though everyone was pretty beat.







6.28.2017

Tahoe Trip- I'm on a boat

Probably the most fun we had all trip (That or the time we played Celebrity and I almost peed my pants. For the sake of this post, let's call it a tie) We rented a boat and sailed the open water. It was just so fun! We blasted music, danced and stopped in the middle of the FREEZING lake to jump in. Yes, we jump in. My body forgot how to function for a split second, but after that tiny little freak out, I was back to hopping on the party boat and living it up. Vivy fell asleep and Kate was a blast. I loved watching my little nieces seriously belt out ballads from the most recent Disney movies. It was a stellar moment when my sister played our hood ornament while pretending to be Else as "Let it Go" was blasting. I sure love my family. 
















6.27.2017

Tahoe Trip- Hike to Eagle Lake

This hike was tops, y'all.
Gorgeous scenery.
Cool breeze.
Great family.
SO worth it.