June 29, 2016

Sometimes There are no Pictures

If you are like me, you are the one behind the camera capturing the moments. You wander around taking pictures, hoping to be able to preserve the memory in a beautiful way, while still making the story interesting to your readers.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I spend so much time trying to capture the moment that I forget to be a part of that moment. I spend so much time trying to tell the story that I forget to write myself into it.

As much as I really love blogging and the desire to preserve memories, sometimes I just want to sit back and be a part of what is happening. This past weekend, I did just that. I had every intention of taking pictures of all of the food, fun, and people.

This weekend my sister and mom came to see me and celebrate my birthday. When they got here, there was so much laughter and so much to be apart of that I did not take a single picture. Instead of capturing every detail, I was actively a part of those details.

As a blogger, I can spend too much time worrying about telling the story that I forget to live the story myself.

And while I don’t have any pictures of the moments from this weekend, I had a beautiful time with my family. I let myself be in the story and because of that, I will never forget it.


Don't forget to be in the moment.

June 27, 2016

Broccoli Fettuccine Alfredo

I swam competitively in middle school through high school. One year I was 10 hours from home at a swim meet. My 13 birthday was that weekend and my teammates threw a surprise birthday party for me. My entrance was not great...when everyone yelled SURPRISE..I threw up.

Yep, everywhere.

Turns out I had some bad fettuccine alfredo and I had food poisoning. Ugh. It was so bad. So for the longest time after that, I was not able to eat fettuccine alfredo.

Enter now...that man Alfredo is entering back into my life! I mean by birthday is tomorrow. It has only taken 14 years for me to over come this!

Plus I already told you how grown up I was with all my craving of broccoli! haha!


Ingredients:

1 chicken breast/some olive oil
1/2 box of fettuccine pasta
2 cups of frozen broccoli, thawed
2 cloves of minced garlic
2/3 cup of heavy cream
2/3 cup of milk
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese


Directions:


Bring a large pot of water to boil and boil fettuccine pasta according to box instructions. Drain pasta.

Cook broccoli. I steam it in my microwave either according to package instructions (if it is in a steamable package) or about 3 minutes in a container with 1/2 inch water in the bottom of the container.

Coat chicken breast with some olive oil and grill until cooked through (about 4 minutes each side) or just use some precooked chicken. Once cool, shred or slice chicken into thin strips.

In a large pan, add garlic, heavy cream, and milk. Stir till hot and bubbly, then add cheeses and stir until melted.

Add in pasta and coat. Add in broccoli until coated.

Serve and enjoy immediately!


I hope you are all wishing no one gets sick for my birthday. Maybe then I can go home from work early! Here is to another happy and healthy year!

June 24, 2016

27

Tuesday is my birthday!

Crazy how fast another year goes by, right? I feel like I was JUST turning 21 and now here I am, officially entering my late 20's! I can't complain though - life is awesome and I wouldn't change a thing. I have my family, friends, health, a beautiful home, and the best husband in the world. If this next year is half as good as this one has been, I'll be one happy camper!


On my birthday you will find me working, but this coming weekend you can find me doing all my favorite things: having a big breakfast, picking up fresh flowers, shopping at Marshall's and Home Goods, seeing my mom and sister, and having dinner with my husband. 

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend as well!

June 22, 2016

Pesto and Goat Cheese Bell Peppers

It has been so brutally hot here in Arizona. You know it is bad when the weatherman says "tomorrow is when the decent weather ends." Decent weather being a high of 106. Non-decent weather you ask? 117-120!

That being said, I do not want to make anything in the oven, on the stove, or blow dry my hair. It is just too hot and my poor AC bill is just crying.

So enter the grill! Sweet bell peppers and goat cheese were on sale so I got creative. My husband did say this dish is more of a side dish (instead of a dinner), but he really enjoyed it!

So maybe serve these with your brats and burgers for the fourth! That would be amazing!


Ingredients:

2 sweet bell peppers (orange, red, or yellow)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of pesto
4 ounces of crumbled goat cheese

Directions:


Combine in a bowl olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and pesto.

Clean and chop bell peppers. Coat the bell peppers in bowl mixture.

Place the rest of the bowl mixture on the bottom of a cast iron skillet. Place bell peppers in skillet.

Grill on high (about 350-400 if using an oven) for 10 minutes. Then add cheese crumbles into bell pepper. Keep on grill for a couple more minutes until a little melted.

Serve immediately and enjoy!


What are some of your favorite summer sides?
How do you stay cool when it is unbearably hot out?

June 20, 2016

How to Make Your Grocery Store Flowers Last

Living in the desert, flowers are often few and far between. Therefore, often if I want any blooms in my home I need to go to the grocery store. When I do that, I have to grab bunches and head home and arrange them.

But sometimes you bring home the flowers from the grocery store and the flowers die one or two days after and it is really disappointing. My little sister is a really incredible at arranging flowers. I can dream to one day be as good as her. However, I can give some tips on how to extend the shelf life of fresh flowers.



Properly prepare the vase. 
Fill it with about four inches of cool to room-temperature water. If it comes with floral food (the small packet that occasionally comes with a bunch of flowers), take a moment to add it to the water.
Always cut the stems diagonal. This will give your stems more surface area to absorb the water and take in nutrition. If there are any thorns, don’t remove them.


Keep in a safe place. 
Put the finished arrangement in a cooler area, away from direct sunlight or gusts of air. Don’t forget about the water. Always make sure your fresh beautiful flowers have enough water. Change the water out every 24 to 48 hours. If leaves fall in, remove them immediately because those wilted leaves can put bacteria in the water.


Use household items to extend the flowers life. 
There are a couple of ways to extend the life of your flowers:

Drop a penny into the vase of water to keep your fresh bouquet looking its best. The copper’s acid acts as a natural antibacterial agent that prevents the growth of harmful bacteria in flowers. 

Adding aspirin, soda, or sugar is a good way to combat the aging process in fresh plants. The sugar and soda provide nutrition and the aspirin increases the acidity
in the water, which will help the water fight against gravity to make its way from the bottom of the stem to the rest of the plant. 

Vinegar and alcohol can protect plants from mold and bacteria by keeping the water disinfected. If you are using a clear vase, use clear liquids like white vinegar, lemon-lime soda, or vodka.



What is your favorite bloom to have around the house? 
How do you make your floral arrangements last?

June 17, 2016

I Married Someone Like My Dad

Some people say you marry a man who reminds you of your own father. This isn't in any gross Freudian way and it is absolutely not a proven theory. Some people may marry the exact opposite.

I thought I did in some ways, but as I grew up with my husband, I realized I married someone like my dad. As most of you know, I met my husband when I was 16. 

They are patient.
They may roll their eyes and say funny things, but they ultimately take our nagging and our dramatics in stride. (Sorry mom, you know it!)

They are hardworking.
They will put in the hours needed to do it the right way the first time. Both are computer oriented engineers which means they are both very organized (in most things) and logic driven. Both work jobs to keep their families comfortable but also put in the time and work with their family. I appreciate their hard work!

They aren't wimpy about anything.
They aren't scared of bugs, love being outdoors, and can lift heavy things. They aren't worried about getting dirty and absolutely leave girly things like shopping to us girls.


They are chivalrous.
They will always open a door for you and put us girls first.

They clean up well.
I mean really...

They know when to say the right thing.
They aren't overly affectionate but they know when to be. They will say I love you at just the right moment, give you a hug when you need it most, and quite honestly I will never forget my dad's incredible speech at my wedding. It was perfect.

They love me.
I am their girl!


So thank you Dad for being an incredible role model and one with many qualities that a father should have. Whether I was conscious of it or not, you showed me what to look for in a man to marry. I think I did pretty good!


Happy Father's Day!

June 15, 2016

Fish Tacos

Once upon a time, Lauren didn't even eat fish. After my dad made me scallops and I started experimenting with them myself and eating shrimp.

My husband loves fish, therefore, I should start to make fish and learn to love more fish. Mahi Mahi was on sale so I bought it. Fish tacos just feel like a quintessential summer dish. Making them was super easy and I surprisingly gobbled it up! My husband loved them too!

So I guess I have learned that I should try new things in the kitchen outside of my comfort zone more often. My husband surprised me on our anniversary making salmon. I liked it too! It was soft (I did have to have him eat the part near the skin, it was a little less soft and I didn't like that texture.) But yeah, anyways, non-fish lovers, TRY THIS!


Ingredients:

1 (12 ounce) bag of mahi mahi
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of red chili powder
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of onion powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
your favorite taco toppings such as cheese, lettuce, salsa, or guacamole
steamed corn tortillas

Directions:

Combine all the dry spices to create a rub for the mahi mahi. Coat all sides of the fish with the rub and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes.

Heat a small amount of oil in a pan and add the fish fillets. Cook until opaque (it is hard to see) and firm to touch. This will be about 4 minutes each side.

Then use a fork to flake the fish. Then build your tacos and enjoy!


Do you have any foods you eat now that you never liked?

June 13, 2016

CNAs/PCTs Rock

I have been a nurse now for almost 5 years.
This week is Nursing Assistance Week.

I know that the backbone to any good nurse is a good CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) or PCT (Patient Care Technician) No matter what I call you, I want you to know...

Thank you for each and every patient you have cared for. Thank you for every hug you gave to many a grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, mom, dad, brother, sister, and friend. Thank you for your words of comfort you shared with a patient when they were feeling sad or hopeless. Thank you for every tear and but you wiped. Thank you for putting your life on hold to deal with other people's life. Thank you for your hard work ethic and not calling in sick.

Thank you for all your hard work both physically and mentally. Thank you for doing what matters when a nurse like me is too busy. You often go unrecognized and for that, I apologize. You are a secret ingredient to a good patient nurse relationship. I could not survive without you. Neither could our patients!


Happy Nursing Assistant Week!
Thank you for all you do!

June 10, 2016

Summer Salads

Summer is in full swing here in Arizona with triple digit heat. Very gross. I hope I am the only one who's body is not completely summer ready...I wish the best for you all.

But if you are in my situation, you might as well enjoy your salad.

Here are some of my favorite ways to do salads.

I mean, a serious favorite over here. This is my go to when ordering at a restaurant. A little more time consuming to re-create at home, but who can deny me some avocado and bacon on a salad? So worth it!


2. Cool Cucumber and Blue Cheese Salad
This is a very simple, very refreshing option. It is not short on flavor with the cucumber and blue cheese flavors working together in a swirl of perfection!



Ingredients:

Lettuce (chopped)
1 cucumber (peeled and sliced)
Crumbled blue cheese
Blue cheese dressing

Directions:


Toss together lettuce and cucumber. Top with blue cheese crumbles and then dressing.

Serve and enjoy immediately!

Great flavored chicken on a salad really steals my heart. Plus anyway for me to have the flavor of buffalo wings without all the calories is a win for me!


4. Tomato Salad
This one is getting me all hyped up for Italy and also reminding me that I need my body to be Italy ready...like NOW!



Ingredients:

Lettuce (chopped)
1-2 slicing tomatoes (chopped and halved)
Sprinkled/dried parmesan cheese
Italian dressing


Directions:


Layer lettuce then tomatoes and then cheese. Coat with Italian dressing (or any other of your favorite dressings. This is a really versatile salad!)

Serve and enjoy immediately!

Nothing says summer (especially here in Arizona) like the taste of citrus! This is one of those crowd pleaser salads with its taste and its beauty! Look at that color!


6. Tossed Pecan Salad
Pecans are a New Mexico staple, so for a taste of home, a salad starring pecans is just the ticket!
There are two ways I like to do my pecan salads:

one: lettuce, cheddar cheese, raw pecans, and thousand island dressing.
two: raw spinach, mozzarella cheese, pecans, and poppyseed dressing.



I mean, is there anything more quintessential than barbecue in the summertime?! I think not...so why not add that into your salad?


So lasagna isn't the healthiest thing to eat all summer in preparation for how I would like my body in photos to look in Italy. So I guess I will have to take out the noodles and make a great ricotta salad! Honestly, not a bad trade off! So yummy!

Another opportunity to use avocado on a salad! I am in! I honestly use it as the dressing and it works! If everyone is having tacos, switch yours to a salad! This is an easy and great swap.

Crisp, refreshing, and light! Everything a summer salad should be!


What are some of your favorite salads?

June 8, 2016

The Honeymoon: Bahamas

You know those moments in life that you can relive in your life years later? (Well, four years later to be exact...) The ones that you knew exactly what everyone was wearing, what the smell in the air was, and the conversation being had? Well my honeymoon was one of those moments. I can't believe I didn't ever cover it on the blog!

Being married to Kevin has been a marriage where we love to travel. This was the first trip we took as a married couple and it sure was fun! Even better, after this trip, who knew, but...the best was yet to come!

Kevin was just about to start his job, so time and money were short so a cruise to the Bahamas was just what we did! We cruised on the Norwegian Sky and boy was this trip just full of food and relaxation!



Digging up these old photos just really makes me think how four years sure has aged me! WOW!


What are some time where you still have crystal clear memories?
Where did you travel to for your first major travel trip?

June 6, 2016

What Is Making My Life Good Right Now

So glad that last week is over! I started by working Memorial Day and then everyday after that! I am overworked! And seriously these allergies that have sprung up this spring are kicking my butt! This isn't all that happy of news. But I am absolutely happy that I have a job. Thankfully, other than that, there is a lot right now that is making my life good right now.

one. 
Zucchini and Broccoli. Thank gosh it is on sale because I have been eating it like crazy! And no I am not pregnant.. My taste buds just seem to be catching up with my age and I am starting to enjoy grown-up food more. My three favorite ways to eat them are Zucchini Pancakes, Zucchini Pie, and Broccoli and Cheese Casserole, and just good ol' Broccoli and Cheese. Okay, so not that grown up, I am still covering everything in cheese life's blood.

two.
Guilty Pleasure Songs. Right now it is Work From Home by Fifth Harmony and Me Too by Meghan Trainor. I just wanna dance and sing along all the time!

three.
Seeing Family. We escaped town and the heat this weekend and went and saw Kevin's family. Two of his cousins graduated (one high school and one college) and are basically two of the greatest people. My family went and sent my good wishes to my cousin in Ohio who graduated high school. Yay everyone! Good job!

four.
Beautiful Books. Sometimes I get lucky and they have really good stuff in them, but unfortunately I wasn't a fan/inspired with any of the recipes in this book, but the cover...TO DIE FOR!

five.
Travel Planning. I am so excited for how many trips I am in the process of planning for! I am so excited for my first trip to Europe. I find that so far I am good at finding things I want to do, but not so much at scheduling it all out and doing the little details of the planning. Bad follow through much? I also think I need to work on my photography before I go. I mean if you travel, I should at least be able to remember it with freaking awesome pictures. I may have to take some lessons from my girl Andrea and her husband! Their photos are beautiful!


What is making your life good right now?
Raise your hand if you wanna pay me to go on a trip and review it...I'll do it!

June 3, 2016

Four Years of Love + Pie

Last week was four years married.

I am just so lucky to be with the right person! I feel lucky that I was able to meet the person I will be hopefully spending the rest of my life with so young--on your second day of freshman year in high school to be exact! Now almost four years after we married and almost 11 years after we started dating and almost 13 years after we met, he is the most important person in my life. He is my family and the person I want to have all my adventures with!

I am with someone who I never have to hide from. I can wake up, morning breath and face and all, I can tell an embarrassing story, I can share my hopes and dreams...and he knows and sees all of it and loves me. He is who I want to be with my whole life.

This year the modern/traditional gifts are appliances/fruit and flowers.
I always like to do my gifts associated with the yearly anniversary gifts as you can see: year one, year two, year three.

So as much as Kevin would love me to get a new fridge, oven, microwave, or dishwasher...I decided now was not the time. So I took a bit of a leap on the word appliance and used my appliances to make him an amazing indoor, romantic picnic with a great card and made apple pie. That being the fruit and flower gift!



And I will share for you my mom's homemade apple pie filling!



And yes, that is supposed to be a 4 (aww four year anniversary, lol!) on the top...cause I know you all could just tell without me telling you!

Ingredients:

20 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
10 cups of water
4 1/2 cups of sugar
1 cup of flour
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

Directions:

Toss apple slices in lemon juice and set aside.

In a dutch oven/stock pot, combine water, sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Stir well and bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes.

Ladle into 1 gallon freezer bags leaving 1/2-1 inch of headspace. Cool at room temperature (about 1 hour)

Seal, freeze, and give some to your daughter!
You can make your own pie crust or just go buy one at the store like I did! (I cannot make my own worth a darn!)
Serve pie with vanilla ice cream--Kevin makes that in our house. Maybe I can get him to guest post some recipes here soon!



Oh and no worries, he made me a dinner on Memorial Day for our anniversary after a long day of work for me!


And some earrings for good measure ;-)
I am a lucky girl!


Here is to another year of this great life!
What is your husband handy at making in the kitchen?

June 1, 2016

Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo

Even those of us who love being in the kitchen have days where we just don't feel like it. For me, these are days that I work. Sometimes, even with planning, the idea of cooking dinner just is not appealing.

But we all do plenty of things every day that we don't feel like doing. I don't EVER feel like doing laundry, scrubbing bathrooms, or ironing, but they get done every week. Actually, the ironing doesn't...I make Kevin do that. No worries, I told him before I suckered him into marrying me! Anyway, point is, we still need dinner!

On a day like today, these are the options:
1. Leftovers…I seem to be the only person in the house that enjoys them.
2. Takeout. I have to drive somewhere, get it, and spend money. If I spend money out on food, If I go out to food, I like going out to a restaurant over takeout, but I don't want to go out at all...it was a long day at work and I have to work tomorrow.
3. “Fend" That is what we call it in our house. This is where you fend for yourself and prepare your own stuff...could be cereal, could be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, could be anything we have! The most appealing choice so far, but not very healthy.
4. Make something super quick and delicious, that doesn't seem like work.

Option four it is! 



Dinner (a dinner you could even serve to guests) is served! This is a dinner that far surpasses leftovers, takeout, and fend options!

Ingredients:

Shrimp and Pasta:
4 bamboo skewers
1/2 box of fettuccine pasta
large raw shrimp (I used about about 20)
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of olive oil
salt and pepper for seasoning

Veggies:
1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes
1 cup of snap peas
1 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil

Sauce:
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
2/3 cup of heavy cream
2/3 cup of milk
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese


Directions:

Soak bamboo skewers in water for 10 minutes and preheat the grill to high. Bring a large pot of water to boil and boil fettuccine pasta according to box instructions. Drain pasta.

Rinse shrimp and pat dry with a paper towel and place into a bowl.  Add 1 teaspoon of minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. Stir to coat and marinate for 5 minutes.

Remove fibrous strings from snap peas and cut in half at an angle. Halve the grape tomatoes.

Put shrimp on skewers and grill about 3-4 minutes on each side until shrimp are pink and opaque throughout. Remove from grill.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add snap peas and tomatoes. Season with some salt and pepper. Cook for two minutes and transfer to a small bowl.

In the same pan you used for the veggies, add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add heavy cream and milk. Stir till hot and bubbly, then add cheeses and stir until melted.

Add in pasta and coat. Add in veggies and stir till coated.

Plate and enjoy your dish!
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