Thursday, January 24, 2013

crockpot chicken tacos

i have a little gluten free recipe for ya. you can make it with "normal" ingredients but the recipe below is how i've adapted it so that i can enjoy it along with my family. it's beyond easy and delicious. and it'll do in a pinch when you can't get to costa vida. 
seriously, i could eat there every day. 

your view once you've thrown everything into the crockpot
dinner is served!

chicken tacos

1 cup chicken broth, pacific home style brand (or whatever kind you like if you aren't gf)

1 cup pace picante sauce

1 can sweet white/yellow corn, drained (check labels)

1 can black beans, drained & rinsed (check labels)

1 package McCormick taco seasoning

3 or 4 frozen chicken breast

put everything but the chicken in the crockpot. 
add chicken.
cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours.

serve with normal taco toppings. make a salad or put in corn tortillas.
if you're feeling like you need a little something extra, try THIS dressing recipe. it's divine. there are also many recipes for dressings like this floating around on pinterest.


Friday, January 18, 2013

joy in january

january and i are not friends. after all the holidays and cheer, january just seems to throw real life back in your face without any apologies. people are sick, the weather is outrageously cold (below zero usually when i take the kids to school) and the month just drags on. it's not my favorite.
however, there are a few things that are bringing me great joy right now and keeping me distracted from the fact that it's still january.

around the house:

we've had a big empty wall in our bedroom for a while and i finally found a few things to throw up on it. i made the chalkboard out of an old mirror. i really love it. it's the perfect place for little love notes to be posted. each picture means something to mark and me. owls, i'm obsessed. bees, he's obsessed. we were married in the manti temple. and the 'for wither thou goest' quote from the bible is something we have made a priority in our marriage from the very beginning. you'll see it hanging up in other areas of our house too.
my owl light switch cover! my mom gave this to me as part of my christmas present. she knows me well! i put him on my closet switch because, as mark claims, i never turn that light off after i walk out of the closet so the owl is there to catch my eye and remind me to turn off the light. so far it's worked! i know, i'm a child.

my very first apron in almost 12 years of being domesticated. also a christmas gift from my mom and mark teaming up to make it happen. it's almost too cute to cook in, right?
at the store/online shopping:

target $1 bins have been a gold mine lately! i could buy one of everything. i'm slightly obsessed with arrows lately too. and glitter. and twine. and for just a buck you can't go wrong.
forever 21 hair bows. so cute for my girls. or me. and for less than $2, that's always an easy decision. go here to find them.
ever been to go! it's a little pricey, especially compared to forever 21, but i love pretty much every single thing on their website. these hair clips are screaming my name! my bangs just aren't quite long enough for this look, which i wish i could wear everyday. naomi, from love taza, has been rocking this lately and it's just awesome.
 world of blogs:
i've been reading the following blogs for a while but recently my love for them has grown. i'm not sure why but it has and i'm loving it!
nat the fat rat: natalie lives in nyc with your husband and adorable son. i like the way she describes things when writing, all of her cool pictures as she walks nyc and her simple, yet adorable tiny apartment. oh, and she's lds.
the alison show: if you are a crafter, alison is for you! she is one of the most creative blogging ladies you'll run across. and her style is right up my alley. pretty much everything she makes is a home run by my book. and she's funny. and she's lds too!

and lastly, music:
i have a whole list of songs that currently are on repeat. but there's one song that i've been throwing on when izzy and i need to jam out in the car or need some energy in the mornings to get the day going. it's funny because it's not normally my brand of music. hey, sometimes you just gotta go with new things! also, izzy and i have major crushes on adam. i mean, seriously now! ps. the video is kinda odd...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

expectations are confusing. or maybe it's just me.

so apparently life thinks it's funny to mess with me.
i wrote my post on wanting to feel purposeful not that long ago. i even stood in fast and testimony meeting at church and talked about how i wanted to be more purposeful. i want to show my gratitude for my life by showing that i know my purpose here on earth.
and then last week happened.
nothing serious or horrible.
but i've been finding it difficult to keep my focus on my purpose.
i'm still getting a lot done in my day to day life. i'm still taking care of my family.
but i think maybe i set my expectations a little high.
expectations are funny, aren't they? we are supposed to have them for ourselves. and to a certain extent we can have them for our spouse, our family or friends...but for the most part we need to let others govern their own lives and not dictate or judge how they live life.
that is what's difficult for me in my attempt to be more purposeful. i can only control my actions.
example. i can make and give the kids a new list of chores and a more structured schedule, right? that's me being purposeful. i can try to enforce the newly established structure. that's purposeful too.
but here's the trick, they are going to fight me on it. they are going to complain. i will have to remind them over and over and over to do what i asked them to do.
and then the purposeful feelings i once had start to leave. my expectations for my kids to follow my schedule are being shredded. and then i feel defeated.
does this make sense?
but in reality, i shouldn't let it get me down. my kids are just like other kids. they don't like cleaning. hey, neither do i! i shouldn't let my expectations for them or my attempt at trying to get life on the right path, lead me to believe that i've failed or that i'm being defeated when i have to persuade the kids to do what i've asked them to do. they are still good kids. i'm still a good mom. i can still find purpose in frustrating moments.
i don't have to let my expectations for others distract me from how good they really are or what they actually do accomplish. 
i'm sort of babbling.
i'm just feeling stuck.
i'm struggling.
while i've been working through all these feelings of expectations and purpose, i've been talking to my mom. bless her ever helpful, loving and kind heart.
here's a little background: mom had six kids. i am the oldest. she homeschooled all of us. she ran a daycare at the same time for a few years. she took care of my handicapped aunt who lived with us for my entire growing up years. she was also president of every church organization that women run in the church. sometimes twice. and now she lives in the basement of her own home so that my aging grandparents and handicapped aunt can live upstairs.
she's done a lot in life. and her expectations for herself have always been bigger than just accomplishing those other million things she had going on at the time.
this is where i come from.
but she said something to me last night that made me think. it was something she had to teach herself. she said, "Relaxing the standard isn't slacking." 
in my mind the music started playing and the sun suddenly appeared!
it makes me tear up to even think that by giving myself some slack, by allowing myself some room to not be perfect, and to not be so upset when others aren't perfect, i'm not failing. my family isn't failing.
see, the thing is i know that already. i preach it to everyone. i'm the first to tell everyone that they need to give themselves a break.
i just can't seem to give myself one. or my family one. because after all, i'm running the family (mostly) and if i'm failing, they are too.
but i need to relax the standard. that's exactly what i needed to hear.
i will have expectations for myself. i will continue to be purposeful. but i will not set the standard so high. i will allow room to grow one step at a time. i will allow myself to not be perfect. i will allow the same for my family. i will allow myself to be the real person i've always tried to be. mistakes will happen. new beginnings will occur over and over and over.
and i will try to remind myself that i'm okay.

this video reminded me that expectations are good. of course, they need to be based on reality too.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

my heart oozes love for these folks

my brother in law, aaron, took some family pictures for us back in september. i posted a few on instagram but completely neglected to post any on this little blog. i love, love, love these pictures of my kiddos. they are beautiful, aren't they? and they are mine! crazy. all three kids are looking too old. when in the world did that happen? it's fun and exciting and completely terrifying all at the same time. sometimes i look at olivia and izzy and my mind jumps into the future where they are sixteen and twelve. what am i going to do with two girls at those ages? seriously, tell me because i have no idea. 
but i'm getting distracted here...
wait, let me add a disclaimer and then we'll move on...
i had just had my stupid iud surgery and still wasn't feeling good but i wanted to get the pictures taken before the weather started to turn ugly. so i'm not wearing what i wanted to wear and color is missing from my already normally pale face. oh, and my necklace broke but i didn't realize that until after the pictures were over. i'm sure a little photoshop can help with all these problems but you're getting the real deal today.
okay, moving on...
these pictures bring me joy. truly. i love those four people i live with more than anything.

these last two i just grabbed from my instagram account...hence the black border. my apologies. oh, and thankfully this is the one family pic where izzy's shoulder is hiding the broken necklace.

aaron has a photography page on facebook if you want to check it out. just go here
i'm hoping we can book him again very soon!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

christmas twenty twelve

i found a lot of joy in christmas this year. i usually do, don't get me wrong, but this year i really felt organized and enjoyed moments about christmas that i seemed to have ignored in previous years. 
i tried to slow myself down and take on little projects that i've been meaning to do. i'm in a crafty sort of mood lately and christmas is the perfect time to put those skills to use, right? i made my own wrapping paper. i loved it! it became my favorite part of preparing for christmas. i posted pics in the previous christmas post. i also made sugar cookies with the kids. i'm not awesome at sharing kitchen space...i definitely need to work on not being such a kitchen hog...but it was a lot of fun. 
also, you know those times when you see something that you could either make or buy for someone and they'll just love it because it has their name written in BIG letters all over it and it's screaming at you to pick it up and buy it already? i felt like that was the majority of my gift buying experiences this year. that hardly ever happens to me! but i would love it if it would keep happening, that's for sure! i'm still just so happy thinking back on all those experiences.

we spent the weekend before christmas down in southern utah with mark's family. everyone was there this year and it was a lot of fun! mark's mom requested that we have a nativity put on by the grandkids and then a family talent show. both were a hit! everyone participated by either singing songs, playing the guitar or reading christmas stories aloud. 
we were also able to meet up with some friends we haven't seen in a long time. definitely a highlight! they just need to be my neighbors already! this long distance thing isn't working out for me very well. but i am grateful to have such wonderful people in my life!
you can't see izzy's wings but she was thrilled to be an angel. also, i may or may not have stolen some of my mother in law's handmade decorations off of her tree before we left. i was dying over them. and how awesome is her peacock on top of the tree?!
the girl's baby dolls from grandma janie
christmas eve was pretty low key. we ran some last minute errands, went out to dinner (a tradition) and then watched 'elf' while we played a game. 
and then life became interesting.
mark woke up at 3am with the stomach flu. poor guy was miserable and didn't sleep a wink. when the kids woke up at 8:30am (i love that they sleep in!), he made an effort to join us for stockings and presents but spent most of the day in bed. i felt so bad for him. 
in the afternoon i went to my parent's house alone to talk to my missionary brother who was calling home. i love that boy. like a lot. he's doing such a great job and it was awesome to hear his voice for awhile.
i then went home with presents for mark to open from my family, watched him open those and then the kids and i returned to my folk's house for dinner and more presents. we missed mark all evening. anyone who knows him knows that he adds so much fun to gatherings like that and he was missed, that bearded man of mine.
but it was still a good night and the kids loved every minute of it! 

most of the grandkids. my mom put together bags for each kid and put their wrapped presents in the bag. after the kids had opened everything, we just gathered up their stuff and stuck it bag in the bag with their name on it. it was perfect! mom is a genius!
after christmas olivia and i ended up with mark's flu as well. oh, and so did a lot of my family and mark's family and some of our friends. it was spreading like wildfire last week! i'm very grateful it's all over now. 
despite the sickness, we had a great holiday! really, it was one that won't be forgotten.
thank you, christmas of twenty twelve, you brought us good memories!

Friday, January 04, 2013

becoming purposeful

this is how i documented my 33rd birthday. it was as low key as this picture seems. but that is a post for another day.

i'm doing things a little out of order here. let's talk about the new year before i post the christmas pictures. i've been giving the idea of traditional new year's resolutions a lot of thought lately. 
here's what i decided - i don't like new year's resolutions.
they bug me. 
exercise more. vague. 
be a better person. even more vague.
what i do like about a new year is the symbol of starting something fresh. obviously we can grow and change and start over throughout the year as well but the new year is good place for some of these changes to begin. a new year brings hope. 
so with that in mind, i've thought about who i hope to become this year and throughout the rest of my life.

one word keeps popping into my head - purposeful

i want my intentions and motives to be purposeful.
remember this post? yeah, it's been on my mind for a while.
i can stay busy all day. do ya feel me, moms? we can pick up a room ten times, do the dishes three times and run all sorts of errands all day long. is there a useful purpose behind those things? sure. 
but what about the rest of life?
 my kids need loving attention, friends need uplifting and laughter, small moments are being missed out on. 
so it's gonna be okay if i only pick up the room half the time in exchange for a more purposeful action. now i realize there are some days that go better than others. sometimes all i do is try to survive the day. but even in those moments when it seems rough and the kids won't stop complaining, i want my reactions to be purposeful. i don't want to just yell because i've had enough. i want to react in a useful manner and in a way i would want to be treated. 
yep, purposeful is the word i will carry with me this year.  
it is a motivating, life improving resolution for me.
my intentions and actions toward my family, friends, my church calling and my testimony, my daily tasks, my hobbies and my body will be purposeful or it will not take up space in my life.
this word is already calling me to action. 
to be honest, i tried out this purposeful thinking in preparing for christmas and i feel like it was one of the most enjoyable holidays we've had.
so i'm on board! i'm convinced this will be good for me.
here's to 2013 being purposeful!

spiritual enlightenment that has helped me with this purposeful stuff: click here