Monday, December 29, 2008

The 12 days of Hays Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!




On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me-

12 people playing parts of the nativity at Aunt Kerri's house on Christmas Eve. I was Mary, Madi was the donkey, Jason was a sheep, Gracie was an Angel and Jakob was a shepherd.. Awwww

11 days I could stand having the kids home from school before I started going crazy

10 family members for dinner the night after Christmas since I was sick Christmas day

9 trips to Wal-Mart to pick up "Just one more thing" before christmas morning

8 toys for Gracie she never even opened. Thank goodness Jake & Madi wanted to help her out

7 Amazing ward members who showed up to help us move on Christmas Eve! They could have been spending time with their families but instead were in the freezing cold so we could have our first Christmas together in our new home. I love the Glines 2nd ward.

6 times I've seen Horton Hears a Who this week cuz the kids are in love with it

5 the number the of days I had to be patient to get the keys to our new home after closing

4 Rounds of steroids to help my immune system

3 hours in the Emergency Room Christmas Day because I was so sick

2 cases of strep throat.. yep.. I got it again and so did Jason. We've learned that penicillin shots are such a blessing though.

AND....

1 New House.. we moved in on Christmas Eve and got to spend Christmas morning in our new place
We hope you all had an amazing Christmas as well and that santa brought everything on your list. We loved spending our time as a family this year and look forward to many more wonderful christmases together.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Beginning to Look alot like Christmas

It's snowing like crazy here today and my living room is a mess of wrapping paper, boxes, tape, scissors and name tags. Ahh the joys of being "santa".

It's been a crazy week here in the Hays house. We got several small storms last week that kept me shoveling snow most days, we had Grandma Ange & the boys over for dinner and gingerbread house decorating on Thursday and Friday we finally closed on the new house YAY! We're just waiting now to get keys because it doesn't fund until Christmas Eve. A great Christmas gift, yes- but we were hoping to celebrate Christmas in our new home and it doesn't look like that's going to happen. Saturday we had Jason's Schlumberger christmas party. We had a great dinner and they raffled off some really good prizes like a gun safe, touch IPods and a big screen tv... we didn't win any of it.
At the Christmas Party



The new house sans Snow



Saturday morning we decided to take advantage of the great snow and took the kids out to the golf course and the Honda Hills to go sledding. It was cold.. 8 degrees to be exact.. but we had so much fun. We're planning a new tradition to go sledding the weekend before Christmas every year.

Sledding at the "Honda Hills"



Dad & the kids sledding at the Golf Course


Gracie was NOT happy


Jake & Madi getting ready for a run in the big sled



Mom pulling Gracie back up the hill






Jason and I both finished up the last of our Christmas shopping this week and now we're just waiting on those wayward items we ordered online that are supposed to be here by Christmas Eve.

On the menu this last week was this amazing Jamaican Chicken & Rice recipe. It was a little spicy so cut the chipotle if you don't like spice, other than that we loved it. I substituted Chicken Breast for the chicken thighs & added a can of black beans to the rice in addition to the red beans. Quick & Easy dinner:

1 cup sliced onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
4 pounds skinless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce with 1 teaspoon sauce from can
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Lime wedges, for garnish
Directions
Arrange onion, celery and carrots in bottom of slow cooker. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper and arrange over vegetables.
In a medium bowl, whisk together tomato sauce, lime juice, chipotle chiles with sauce, and garlic. Pour mixture over chicken.
Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours. Serve half of the thighs with this meal (topped with diced avocado and cilantro and garnished with lime wedges) and reserve remaining thighs for another meal.
Jamaican Rice and Peas:
2 cups instant white rice
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
1 cup water
1 (15-ounce) can red beans, drained
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1/4 cup chopped scallions
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium saucepan, combine rice, coconut milk, water, beans, thyme, and lime zest. Set pan over high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 5 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Fold in scallions and season to taste with salt and pepper.
(Courtesy of Foodnetwork.com)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Easy Cheesy Chicken Fettucini Alfredo



So good even my kids ate it!

1/2 c. Butter
2 c. heavy whipping cream
1/2 c. fresh shredded parmesan
1/2 c. shredded mozarella
2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. pepper
1 bag. frozen chicken breast strips
1 12 oz. box fettucini

In 3 quart saucepan melt butter then add cream stirring frequently over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Boil one minute. Add parmesan, mozarella, garlic, pepper & nutmeg. Simmer until heated through. Heat chicken according to package directions and combine with sauce. Boil fettucini according to package directions and serve topped with chicken & sauce mixture.

Serves 4-6

This is perfect paired with bagged salad from the produce department and parmesan breadsticks from the bakery or refrigerated biscuit section of your supermarket. Dinner that tastes like you spent all day in the kitchen but really only took 2o minutes!

Confirmations, Carpentry & Cookies

(Today's Blog title compliments of my creative husband)

Jason was going to confirm Madi last Sunday but since I ended up with strep throat we had to wait until this Sunday. He got as far as saying her name before he started to choke up, which made me lose it altogether and I sat in the pew bawling like a 2 year old while my incredibly wonderful, spiritual, worth priesthood holding husband confirmed our daughter a member of the church. I'm so lucky to have come into my children's lives at this time so I can share these growing experiences with them and Jason. We even took Jake and Gracie to

NURSERY!

That was an experience. Jake freaked out and ran screaming for the door after 30 seconds and Gracie just ran in and started playing with the toys. Once the teachers got Jake interested in the toys, however he was just fine and it was Gracie who had a hard time for the next two hours. I got to go to Sunday school then J & I traded and he got to go to Priesthood. Oh well, a little at a time we'll try again next week.

Last night I came home and whipped up a batch of gingerbread cookies. Jason remembered me struggling to get the right thickness for each sheet of cookies and continually adjusting the cooking time accordingly so he came up with a plan. We don't have a kitchen supply store here .. so he took some moulding we had out in the garage & cut it down to make me some guides for perfect cookies everytime. Leave it to my husband, some baseboard moulding & a sawzall to make gingerbread cookies. The kids thought it was great fun to roll them out
though!

Big Softie Gingerbread cookies
3/4 c. full flavored molasses
3/4 c. butter
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
3 2/3 c. all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 egg
In 3 quart saucepan over medium heat, heat molasses, butter & brown sugar until boiling stirring occassionally to blend well. Remove from heat & cool. In large bowl combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, & nutmeg. Blend egg into cooled molasses mixture. Stir molasses mixture into flour mixture until smooth. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour. On floured surface roll half of dough to 1/4 inch thickness & cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Bake at 325 for 7-9 minutes or just until dough no longer looks "wet" and edges are lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Bag of Candy

That's what Jason wanted to give the four guys on his crew for christmas. "Just a little something to let them know I appreciate all the work they do". I thought that was sweet of my husband, but you know that I couldn't just let it go at that. So yesterday I made a list, and I got to work. After a two hour trip to Wal-Mart and close to 6 hours in the kitchen I had 4 beautiful gift bags full of goodies to give the guys... Homemade Sugar Cookies with royal icing, Softie Gingerbread Men, Hand dipped Almond Joys, Fantasy Fudge, Chocolate shortbread and Peppermint chocolate spoons. With those I added a cute holiday mug and a box of hot chocolate (what else are you gonna put the spoons in?) Jason loved them and off to work they went with him today.






Easy Chocolate Shortbread


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, and cocoa powder. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Work mixture with your hands until it clings together (dough will be very dry to start). Shape into a smooth ball.
2. On an ungreased cookie sheet, pat or roll into an 8x8-inch square (if rolling, lightly flour the rolling pin to prevent sticking). Score by gently pressing with a knife into 32, 2x1-inch rectangles (do not separate). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cookie is just firm in the center. Cut square along score lines into rectangles again while still warm. Cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pride Goeth Before a Fall... The Ward Christmas Party

The ward christmas party was this past tuesday and each family was asked to bring two dozen cookies. Of course this brought out the competitor in me. I couldn't take just ANY cookies. They had to be the BEST cookies.. the most TALKED about cookies...and presentation was key. So I worked all the day before to figure out what I wanted to make and finally settled on some cute poinsettia cookies. Thank goodness I didn't wait til Tuesday... These cookies took forever to make (about 3.5 hours to make 2 dozen) but they turned out so cute.

I was handed my pride in a handbasket that night however, when my husband came home sick and we didn't even go to the Christmas party. *sigh* Instead I spent an hour at the urgent care with him and sent my slaved over project to the party with my mother -in- law. She says everyone talked about them... but I wasn't even there to enjoy it. Oh well there's always next year. By the way... Jason is fine. He tested negative for strep but they sent him home with amoxicillin anyway since he'd been exposed all weekend. He was back to work the next day.

Sugar Cookie Poinsettias

1 box sugar cookie mix
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 egg
1/3 cup softened cream cheese
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for surface
12 sucker sticks

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a bowl, combine sugar cookie mix, melted butter, egg, cream cheese, and flour; mix together to form dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill one hour.
On lightly floured surface, roll dough, 1/2 at a time, into a 15 by 9-inch rectangle. With sharp knife, cut dough into 3-inch squares. Place 3 inches apart on ungreased, parchment-lined cookie sheets. Lightly press about 1 1/2 inches of wooden stick into bottom center of each dough square. With sharp knife, cut the dough diagonally from each corner to within 1/2-inch of center of each square. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon red sugar over each square. Fold alternate corners of the square to the center to form pinwheel, overlapping the dough at the center pushing down gently to seal in center. Press one M & M in center of each pinwheel.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Using spatula, immediately remove from cookie sheets to wire racks to cool.

Note: this makes a VERY soft dough, so in between batches I put it back in the freezer. Also don't try to remove them from the cookie sheets using the stick, use a spatula and let cool completely before handling sticks.

My presentation container was just a 2 dollar metal bucket from walmart stuffed with floral foam and covered in green tissue paper. I then pressed the sticks into the foam.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

On The Menu

So other people blog about their hobbies, interests, activities etc. I've been blogging mostly about what our little family is up to. I've decided to add in a segment devoted to one of my favorite pasttimes- FOOD.. particularly what I'm cooking, baking etc.

My first installment- Last night's dinner. Homemade Lumpia & Fried Rice

Why does my fried rice look like ground beef in the top picture? (top: fried rice -- bottom: lumpia with sweet & sour sauce)


UPDATE: Recipes

Lumpia

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup minced bean sprouts
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce
40 lumpia wrappers
2 cups vegetable oil for frying

DIRECTIONS
Place a wok or large skillet over high heat, and pour in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Cook pork and ground beef, stirring frequently, until no pink is showing. Remove meat from pan and set aside. Drain grease from pan, leaving a thin coating. Cook garlic and onion in the same pan for 2 minutes. Stir in the cooked pork, carrots and bean sprouts. Season with pepper, salt, garlic powder, and soy sauce. Remove from heat, and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Place 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons of the filling diagonally near one corner of each wrapper, leaving a 1 1/2 inch space at both ends. Fold the side along the length of the filling over the filling, tuck in both ends, and roll neatly. Keep the roll tight as you assemble. Moisten the other side of the wrapper with water to seal the edge. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap to retain moisture.
Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat, add oil to 1/2 inch depth, and heat for 5 minutes. Slide 3 or 4 lumpia into the oil. Fry the rolls for 1 to 2 minutes, until all sides are golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Makes 40 lumpia rolls


Pork Fried Rice

2 cups jasmine rice
1 cup cubed ham pieces (you can find these in the lunchmeat section usually)
1 16oz bag frozen peas & carrots
1/4 c. chopped yellow onion
1/2 c. chopped green onions
2 eggs beaten
4 tablespoons soy sauce (you can adjust this to taste)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Cook Jasmine rice according to package directions. Let cool slightly. Heat oil in wok or large skillet and stir fry rice until slightly golden brown. Add ham, peas, carrots & yellow onion stirring until just heated through. Make a well in the center of your rice and add eggs cooking until set. Stir eggs into rice mixture. (if you're unsure of this you can scramble your eggs in a seperate pan then add to rice mixture) Add soy sauce, salt & pepper, onion powder and garlic powder and continue cooking until again heated. Remove from heat and sprinkle green onions on top.

Serves 4-6

Monday, December 8, 2008

Achievements


"Guess what I got today? We were all in the cafeteria and I got to go up in front of everybody and the principal called my name and look what I got!"




Sunday, December 7, 2008

Baptisms, Blessings & Anti-biotics


Our oldest daughter, Madi turned 8 in October but with so much going on we didn't have the opportunity to get her baptised until this weekend. What a beautiful site my husband and my precious daughter dressed in white entering the baptismal font. To see the excitement on Madi's face and the light in Jason's eyes was enough to bring this mom to tears. We were also very fortunate to have Grandma Angela, Noah & Ellis, Aunt Ivy & Abby, Aunt Kerri & Uncle Jeff, Grandpa Boyd & Grandma Elaine, The Bartons, The Abeytas & Bishop Foley all in attendance. What a blessing to have so many friends and family to witness her day.

I hadn't been feeling so great for a couple of days and by the time we got home from the baptism I was shaking and freezing and my throat was killing me. Jason finally convinced me to go to the dr. (not that I really had an option, I was too weak to fight my 6'4" 300lb husband lol). One phone call to Grandma Ang, she's such a blessing to have in our lives, had the kids taken care of and we were on our way to the E.R. A half hour later I had a 102 degree fever, a sinus infection, strep throat and a prescription for Amoxicillin. Needless to say I was pretty much worthless for the rest of the day and most of today. But I've found a few minutes where I feel well enough to sit up in bed and blog about our joyous experience.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Decorating & Donuts




It's time again to decorate the christmas tree. I bought the kids all matching plaid xmas jammies for our little tree trimming party and stole a donut recipe from my girlfriend Rebecca http://olderandwisor.blogspot.com/2008/12/its-my-party-ill-fry-if-i-want-to.html to use for our snacks that night. The tree is now lovingingly garish with a thousand mismatched ornaments and the donuts were so good I had to promise to make them again, it's a good thing the 4-pack of biscuits was less than 2 bucks at Wal-Mart (thanks rebecca!)
Homemade Donuts & Hot Chocolate


Cinnamony Deliciousness


Playing with Mom

Hey! Look what we did


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Joys of Motherhood...

I just love it when I get a phone call asking "Is this Madison Hays' mom?".. I just smile so big and I'm proud to answer "YES! I'm a mommy!" What sucks is when that question is followed by "She's throwing up at school, you can pick her up at the office"..UGH... I had spent several hours up with Jake vomiting the night before but Madi was fine when I sent her to school. Ahhh washing sheets and taking temps and listening to both of them argue over who gets to watch tv.... the Joys of Motherhood

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Honeymooners



Chillaxin at the fountain at the Paris Hotel, Las Vegas


After the craziness of the wedding Jason and I spent 8 sun-filled, fun-filled days in Las Vegas and Disneyland sans kids. It was a blast. Jason had never been to Las Vegas and I hadn't ever been to California Adventure. We spent two nights in Las Vegas at the Monte Carlo hotel, then three days in Disneyland at the Disneyland Paradise Pier Hotel where we enjoyed a private entrance to California Adventure, then back to Las Vegas to finish out our week at the Beautiful Treasure Island hotel.


Our first night in Las Vegas we saw that Rodney Carrington (one of our favorite comedians) was in town for one final night so we ran down to the concierge to see if tickets were still available and sure enough they were. We went and saw Rodney at the MGM Grand that night and I've never laughed so hard in my life. My stomach hurt for two days after from laughing so hard. The following day I spent many hours dragging Jason up and down the strip shopping at the millions of stores there. He even took me to the top of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel. 500 feet above the Las Vegas strip, it's exactly half the size of the real one in Paris, France.



The Eiffel Tower, Paris Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada



Brandi at the Arc D'Triumph, Paris Hotel


Looking Down 500 feet to the strip below from the top of the Eiffel Tower


The Magic Kingdom



On Tuesday we headed off to Anaheim and spent the next three days like two kids in a candy store at Disneyland. We rode every ride, saw the Parade of Dreams, caught the fireworks show over the castle, saw Fantasmic and fell in love with the "Soarin' Over California" ride at California Adventure. Jason even convinced me to ride the California Screamer roller coaster the goes upside down and the appropriately named "Tower of Terror" ride. I was scared to death, but it was so much fun.



Taking a break on the Train Ride



Scared to death on the California Screamer



Awww Pluto! (See what's in my hand? Authentic Disneyland Churros.. the closest thing to heaven on earth besides my husband)



Me & my very own Prince Charming in front of the Castle


We headed back to Las Vegas on Thursday night and I was reminded why I no longer live in California- THE TRAFFIC! It took us 2.5 hours to go 30 miles. So what should've been a 4 hour drive, took us more than 6. We had opportunity to catch the "Tournament of Kings" show at Excalibur (it's like Medieval Times), the "Sirens of TI" show and the dancing fountains at Bellagio. We crammed a lot of activities into 8 short days but we were glad to get the chance to spend some time with Just Us 'cuz you never know if we'll be able to do it again, at least not until the kids are grown and gone. We had an amazing time and will have many many years of memories, laughs and souvenirs to remember it by.



Showgirls at the Tropicana. I asked them if I could take Jason's picture with them LOL

video
The Dancing Fountains at Bellagio

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Our Life Together Begins This Day...


At least that's what the napkins at the reception said. It's finally over... months of planning, stress and freaking out and it lasted all of a couple hours. But it really was a dream wedding because I married the man of my dreams. Check out the pics of the big day below and for a more complete album I've uploaded everything to photobucket in 2 albums because they wouldn't all fit in one:
http://s262.photobucket.com/albums/ii118/Brandilinam/Wedding%20Pics/Wedding%20Pics%202/

http://s262.photobucket.com/albums/ii118/Brandilinam/Wedding%20Pics/



My handsome groom... take a look 'cuz chances are good you'll never see him in a tux again


The bride


The bride at Millenial Falls


Daddy & Daughter- just a few minutes before I walked down the aisle


speaking of the aisle...










Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween

So I have a little bit of a fetish for Halloween... Hence the costumes for Jason & I, pumpkin carving, and the reigning cubicle decorating champion at Fieldstone Homes. This year I stole a little tradition from my mom's friend Kristi and decided to do a Halloween breakfast for the kids. The table was set with Halloween placemats, halloween plates, skeleton hand goblets, plastic spiders and even plastic vampire teeth. Our breakfast treats were "Monster Gut Orange Pancakes", "bleeding brains (green eggs & ketchup)" and "bloody punch (orange juice with red food coloring)" Both Jake & Madi thought it was super cool and it was definately a fun start to our Halloween festivities today. We're off to trunk or treat with the ward at 5:30 and even Jason is getting into the spirit by taking a strobe light, pumpkins and the fog machine to pass out Candy from the truck.