Neil Diamond

Yes, I attended the Neil Diamond concert on Saturday night.  Yes, I loved it.  Yes, I danced like I was back in high school.  And yes, I knew the words to all the songs.


And no, you do not need to be a senior citizen to attend his concert.  I wished people would stop asking me that.

My sisters and I purchased a bunch of tickets for ourselves and my parents as a Christmas gift.  And after 7 months of waiting, we finally got to use them.  Originally, Chris was going to be my date, but after listening to Brielle whine about not being able to go and still hear her singing his songs at home and in the car, Chris gave up his ticket.

Yes, that's my loser brother acting like... a loser.

I'm worried though.  The terms were that she'd always "be on his team" and so far, he's using this against me.  Which she agreed to!  Oh, the power of Neil Diamond.

"Sweet Caroline" is popular and was Brielle's favorite of the night, but not me.  I personally enjoyed "Beautiful Noise" and "I'm A Believer." That man, even at his age, can still put on a good show.

Come back and see us again Neil!

Muesli - My New Favorite Breakfast

Do you know what "muesli" is?  I didn't.  But now I know and I love it.  It's my new favorite breakfast.

mues-li [myoos-lee] noun
a breakfast cereal similar to granola, usually consisting  of uncooked rolled oats, fruit and nuts 

Looks amazing, doesn't it?  After the "Team Charese" 5K, Brielle and I were famished.  I never eat before running or working out.  I know, I know.  I've been told that's bad, but I prefer not to throw up while exercising.

We were in search of non-McDonald's type breakfast food and we came across a little place called Corner Bakery Cafe.  I was in the mood for something cold and immediately ordered the breakfast special which was described as "chilled oatmeal with fresh fruit." 

I immediately tasted yogurt (which I hate), but it was only a slight yogurt taste.  Very pleasant and very tolerable.  Obviously, the oatmeal was there (uncooked - first for me), but so were blueberries, strawberries, bananas, raisins, apples and lots of almonds.  I also hinted a slight citrus note in the background.  The muesli was extremely creamy and not too sweet.

It. Was. Good.

It also came with super thin cinnamon wheat toast, which was perfect for dipping.

I. Was. In. Heaven.

I also didn't eat again until dinner.  It was incredibly filling and satisfying with just this small serving and a glass of water.  Curious about this dish, I did some Googling, and here is what I found:

Muesli is a popular Swiss/German meal consisting of uncooked rolled oats, fresh fruit (or dried) with nuts and honey.  It was developed around 1900 by a Swiss physician for patients in his hospital.  Instead of cooking the oatmeal, you soak it in a combination of milk and yogurt.  I found the following recipe that I hope comes close to what I ate at the CBC.

Fruit & Oat Muesli
Bon Appetit | January 2010

Makes 6 Servings
  • 1 1/4 cups Quick Cooking Oats
  • 2/3 cup Reduced-Fat Milk
  • 2/3 cup plain Low-Fat Yogurt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2/3 cup Fresh Orange Juice
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 1 cup chopped Raw Almonds
  • 1 diced Apple
  • 3 cups Fresh Fruit (I loved the combination of Bananas, Strawberries & Blueberries - and traditionally, raisins and other dried fruit can be used as well)
Mix Oats, Milk, Yogurt and Vanilla in a large bowl.  Let stand for 5-10 minutes to soften the oats.  Whisk orange juice and honey in a medium bowl.  Stir in chopped apples & almonds, then the fruit.  Stir fruit mixture into oat mixture and serve.
Recipe also states that this can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for up to 8 hours.
Your other option (which is not stated in the recipe) is to visit your local Corner Bakery Cafe.  Which, as luck would have it, is NOT in Logan.  Three, however, are found in Salt Lake.
I'll be honest, I'm a little disappointed that we now have a Kneaders, an Apple Spice Junction AND a Paradise Bakery.  Of the 4, Corner Bakery Cafe is my favorite as well as the least expensive.  I can say this with authority because I've now not just had breakfast there, but dinner as well.
Yes, I ate at CBC twice in one weekend.  It was that good.

Team Charese

Charese has certainly had a year of many challenges  Cancer is ugly.  I get tears in my eyes when I think of the many ways cancer has affected this sweet little family.  How it affects my sisters family.  And how it could devastate my own family, if it were to fall upon us.  

Charese inspires me with her strength, her faith, her optimism and shear courage as she fights this disease.  A fundraiser was held over the weekend in Draper, and I just had to help out.  $20 bucks was all they asked for.  $20 bucks and to run a 5K!  No big deal.  We were already in SLC for the weekend...

Team Charese.

Brielle asked if I thought she could do it.  Um... yeah!  If I can, so can you little miss.

All I asked was for a picture of the Team Charese logos. Not my butt.

And she did.  We did... together.  And this was only the 2nd best experience that day.

The first being able to hang around and watch Charese herself cross the finish line, with the help of her dad and husband.  Touching.

A few words of advice... anytime you get the chance to do something like this for someone you know (or don't know, rather), DO IT.  You'll walk away with so much more than what you gave.

Keep fighting Charese!

RSL's Leo the Lion

We met Leo.

And he signed her hat next to Nat Borchers.

Only 25 more RSL team signatures to go.


Wind Cave... & Being Prepared

Aside from our families occasional camping trip, we're not much of the outdoor adventurer type.  Now, Chris would disagree with this statement because growing up (and during his bachelor days) he was the outdoor adventure type.  He loved strapping on a backpack, hiking into the mountains and returning several days later.  NOT my idea of fun.

But since moving to Cache Valley, I've been wanting to get out and see some of the cool places that people talk about.  Not to mention, with Chris's busy summer schedule, I have to give him a reason to take a few Saturday's off here and there.

Wind Cave, Logan. People I'd talked to said it was super cool and a moderately easy hike.  Great for kids.  And it was... or, eh... would have been had we been a little more prepared.

The cave itself was impressive and the views of Logan Canyon were beautiful!

Once up there, we loved and enjoyed the cool breeze that blew through the cave, the scenery and the chance to rest our legs.  Getting up there was the challenge...

Before you criticize, I fully expected to climb a hill.  However, not being able to judge distances or height very well, I had no idea that climbing 1000 feet in 1.5 miles was so steep.  We all felt the burn.

This brings me to our lack of preparedness, which I have no one to blame but myself.  My first mistake was reading about the hike on the Utah.com website (http://www.utah.com/thingtodo27491.htm).  It was very, very vague.  Had I Googled other websites, which included reviews, I would have been told that:

     a) it was more than 3 miles there an back.
     b) this hike is tough for really young kids
     c) that most of the hike is in the sun

This hike best hiked in the early morning hours.  We didn't even leave the house until after 10:30, so we hiked in 90+ degree weather.  It. Was. Hot.

We brought water, but not nearly enough, and wished we'd had extra water in the car when we got back.

I also did not pack snacks.  I honestly thought we'd be back by lunchtime, so felt no need to pack a load of food up the mountain.  This was probably my biggest mistake.

It took us some time to make it to the cave, but we did.  At least a dozen times, were heard kids say that they weren't sure they could finish.  I don't know how, but we convinced them that they would be proud of themselves if they made it to the top. 

And they were.

Getting down was much easier that getting up... for all of us expect probably Jolene.

See the blond cutie with the flashlight?  She's 4 and had to be carried both up... and down.  Jolene was a rockstar and obliged, since the little one refused to ride on Chris's shoulders.  He even tried to bribe her with ice cream to offer her mom a break.  It didn't work.

Needless to say, we were all exhausted, thirsty, sweaty and starving when we arrived back at the cars around 2:00.  We drove straight to the closest restaurant, even though we were dirty and most certainly smelly.

Poor Brielle.  My lack of preparedness took its biggest toll on her.  We gave her water, sprite, salad, pizza... anything in an attempt to get her to eat.  Nothing worked.  She was sick.  After having only a bowl of cereal at 7:00 that morning before the hike, some water and a few grapes given to her by another hiker, all she wanted to do was throw up.  She was sick.

Chris and I ate, bailed on our friends, and headed home.  Within minutes of being in the car, Brielle was asleep.  It took another hour or so, but she finally work up, ate some food and was back to her spunky self.

She even told me she'd do it all over again.  IF... I brought more water and food.  Turns out our family does have a little bit of an outdoor adventurous spirit.  This will certainly not be the last hike of the summer, with so many more places to explore nearby.  We will, however, do a bit more planning the next time, and most definitely be better equipped.

I Bought It... You Stack It

We took a last minute trip to Tridell last weekend to get some hay for the horses.  It seems as though hay prices doubled last year, and with as dry as it's been this Spring/Summer, Chris and I have a feeling that prices with continue to go up. 

I like to believe that Chris loves the animals as much as I do... the exception being when they cost him money.  "I can't believe I'm paying for something that will just turn to crap."  I can't remember if he actually said the word "crap" or used a word a bit more profane.  Oh well, I try not to pay attention.

It's the biggest load we've bought yet.  6 tons.  150 bales.  85 lbs each.  Holy Smokes, it was a lot of hay.  But, if given sparingly, should feed our horses for a whole year.

Because of the rain that weekend, Chris did not follow us home.  He stayed in Tridell until the skies cleared.  No one wants wet hay. 

I was at work on Monday when he arrived home and received the following picture and text...

"I bought it.  You stack it."

For the record, he didn't make me stack it alone, but he made sure I helped -- AND -- since he reads this blog, I should mention how much I love the man who indulges in the things I love.


Kitchen Update {4}

Before I continue, I need to insert the disclaimer that I am NOT a professional photographer, therefore, don't expect to see quality pictures displaying the recent additions to my kitchen.


The Kitchen Sink Window -- Faux Roman Shade

I'm not a seamstress.  I used no sew tape and ironed that sucker together.  I used THIS tutorial on how to construct a "No Sew" Roman Shade and I absolutely love it.  It has made such a difference.
The Dining Room Door -- Valance

I again used the no sew tape and ironed this sucker together.

No sew tape has become my new best friend.  Although, I don't think it will work for Brielle's window seat bench cushion.  The curtain rod I purchased at the new (and most wonderful) Crate & Barrel store at Fashion Place Mall.  Boy has that mall changed since I moved away.

There are still many projects to finish, however, I'm happy to report that...

No more construction light blub over my dining room table.  The light fixture has been installed and I love it.

I'm still working on painting, fixing cabinets doors (Brielle broke one), and one day, I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE new countertops.  But for now, I'm determined to get Air Conditioning.  Priorities...

Cinnamon Toasted Almonds

I recently hosted my fellow Bunc-Ho's at my house for... Bunco.  Since it was July (and soon after the 4th), the theme was an Independence Day/Summer BBQ party.  Everything was packaged or decorated in Red, White & Blue.

Thanks to my friend Keri, a photo was snapped of the table...

I don't know if I've mentioned this... but I hate my arms.

Chris said to me "You think a bunch of ladies will eat Hot Dogs?"  Ya.  Who doesn't love a good Hot Dog?  Especially wrapped in these super cute foil Hot Dog wrappers that I found for $3.00 on Etsy?  Sadly, they are no longer on Etsy, but you can find them HERE (if for some reason, you feel you need a case of 1000).

I made a Watermelon and Berry salad, dressed with fresh squeezed lime juice & zest, and a little bit a sugar.  A trick I learned from my mom which everyone seems to love.  It never fails, I'm always asked "what's in this?"  Pure deliciousness, I reply.  Anyway, I packaged them in individual to-go containers.  
I of course, made the delicious Cheesy Corn Dip that I've made several times since I discovered the recipe on Pinterest.  Served with Tortilla Chips.

Fresh Strawberry Lemonade to Drink.

Ice Cream Cupcakes.  Large Cupcake, Chocolate Cake base, Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, swirled Whipped Cream and a cherry on top.  They.  Were.  Yummy.  
(I'm sure you can understand that in my rush to set the table before my guests arrived, as well as keep the ice cream cupcakes cold and the hot dogs warm, I didn't snap photos of anything.  Such a tragedy, really.

And now, for the Cinnamon Almonds.  And they must have been a hit, because two of my fellow Bunc-Ho's have already called asking me for the recipe.  Here it is, ladies...

Cinnamon Toasted Almonds
  • 6 cups un-blanched Almonds
  • 6 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 3/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • Extra Cinnamon/Sugar mix for dusting
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy.  Stir in the vanilla.  Add the almonds and stir to coat.

In another bowl, combine both the sugars, cinnamon & salt.  Add to almond mixture and stir to coat.

Spread evenly across 2 greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 300 degrees for 25-30 minutes, stirring several times through the cooking process.  After they are finished baking, and while still warm, dust with extra cinnamon & sugar.  I really like the texture this extra step gives.

Store in an air tight container.


Banana Crepes with Buttermilk Syrup

With our special visitors about to leave town (insert sad face), we just had to sent them off with a special breakfast.  This was a ploy on our part.  We secretly wanted them to miss us and our good food so much that they wouldn't wait an entire year before returning again to Utah for a visit.  We'll see if it works.

Earlier in the week, I had made some Buttermilk Syrup.  This is special treat at our house.  When I asked my mother if she had ever had Buttermilk Syrup, I thought she might gag.  She has no idea what she's missing out on.  It's like caramel on your pancakes, only not as sweet.  It will take and ordinary pancake or waffle and turn it into something magical.  

1/2 cup Buttermilk
1/2 cup Butter
1 cup Sugar
2 tbsp Karo Syrup
1 tbsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
Pinch of Salt

Combine the buttermilk, butter, sugar, karo syrup and salt in a large saucepan (this will double in size when you add the baking soda, so a large saucepan will save you a large mess).  Boil for 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla.  Stir until foam decreases.

Back to our visitors, who were in need of a memorable breakfast to draw them back to Utah sooner rather than later.  I now had a jar of this delicious Buttermilk Syrup just sitting in my fridge waiting to be used, but we couldn't just give our guests pancakes.  We went for crepes instead (or Swedish Pancakes, if you are husband and refuse to call them crepes).

CREPES (aka Swedish Pancakes)
6 Eggs
1 1/2 cups Flour
2 1/2 cups Milk
2 tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined.  In a large non-stick skillet on medium heat, add a little vegetable oil (not to fry, but just to coat).  I like mine thick... Chris likes his thin.  Add as much of the batter as you would like to make the thickness you would like.

So, what made these crepes so special?  They are filled with sliced bananas, whipped cream and a drizzle of the warm Buttermilk Syrup.  


Special Visitors

We had some very special visitors this week, who we've been longing to see for some time.  Last year, my BFF left me and moved to California.  I mean, what's so special about California anyway?  Except maybe her husbands job, the beach, Disneyland?  All right, all right.  California is great, but Cache Valley is great too!

Brielle and Lindsey were inseparable.  Brielle cried when she arrived, then cried again when she left. Having them back in town for a few days meant lots of yummy food, a super late night playing games (girls rule and boys... well, lose), and an amazing new breakfast dish that will certainly make it onto our family meal rotation.  We seriously had a great time.  In fact, we had so much fun that we are planning a road trip to California.  A few days just wasn't enough after a year without the Pierce's.


Quotes From Bill Cosby & Overcoming Fears

January 16, 2010
When I go back to that day, I still can't believe what happened.  But I do remember how it started. An overly-confident "wanna-be" cowgirl stepped into a snow covered pasture to show off her daughters new pony to visiting family. Just like she'd done more than a dozen times before ("she" being "me"), she haltered her horse and began leading him to the barn.

I should have know something was wrong when Cocoa immediately dropped to the ground just to jump back up and start freaking out.  Have you ever seen a horse freak out?  Up close?  My inexperience immediately led me to pass him off to Chris, which was the right thing to do.  What I did next, wasn't so much...

"A word to the wise ain't necessary, it's the stupid ones that need advice."  -- Bill Cosby 

I let my thoughts and my head leave the pasture in that moment, even though my body did not.  In a matter of seconds, I became completely unaware of what was happening with the horse behind me.  Not only did I endanger myself, by my sister, her kids and my daughter as well.  

In an attempt to regain control of a freaking out horse, I made some poor decisions, thinking I knew just what to do.  It was stupid really.

And it was a painful (and expensive) lesson to learn... one that should have been part of my own common sense.  Now I know that horses are large, powerful and unpredictable. I've also become acutely aware of where the horses are, at all times, when I'm with them.

"The past is a ghost, the future a dream, and all we ever have is now."  -- Bill Cosby

Clearly, Chris and Brielle realized this sooner than myself.  This picture was taken just a few shorts weeks after the accident.  I don't remember the exact conversation of that day, but I'm sure it was something along the lines of "when a horse bucks you off, you get right back on."  We knew that we couldn't let Brielle fear her horse, but as you can see, I made sure to keep my distance.  I expected my child to grasp the concept, but as a 30 year old adult, I couldn't do it.

My dream then was the same as it is today.  I want to ride the horses when ever I want and where ever I want.  I want to prepare the horses all by myself, without any help from Chris.  Since that day, I have yet to ever do so.  My dream is not to be a "wanna-be" anymore.  I want to be the real deal, do it all myself and more importantly, not be afraid to do it type of cowgirl.

June 28, 2012 
The horses hooves needed some care, so our Farrier (horseshoe guy -- I seriously just googled "what to call the person who puts horseshoes on horses" to find that out) came by the house to give horses a good trimming.  I had to time his arrival just right, because I have never caught and haltered the horses myself, without Chris, since that day two and a half years ago.  

When I told Chris that the Farrier was coming and that he needed to help me get the horses ready, he immediately looked frustrated.  And for good reason.  It was 100 degrees out, and Chris had just spent the entire day working outside in the blazing heat.  Without him saying a word, I realized I was missing out on a lot of great opportunities with these horses because I was using him as a crutch.  He knew it -- I knew it.

June 30, 2012
The farrier told me before leaving that I needed to treat the horses hooves every single day.  This dry heat with no rain means there's no moisture in the ground.  Imagine what your feet would look like if you walked around outside, all day, with no shoes.  Poor ponies.

With the work load that Chris is experiencing right now, I knew that this responsibility would fall completely on me.   He just doesn't have the time.

"Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it." --Bill Cosby

My heart was pounding.  My hands and legs were shaking.  I was probably holding my breathe.  I walked in the pasture with Cocoa's halter, knowing I had to catch him first if I wanted any shot of catching Dandy.  Chris was at work.

Cocoa haltered easily but Dandy made me work for it a little.  I got them tied off, then sat on a hay bale to calm my nerves, slow my heart, and prepare myself for my next task.  Essentially, I had to paint a moisturizer on their hooves.  Which meant lifting and holding 8 separate hooves.

I must have looked intoxicated walking back to the house after releasing them back in the pasture.  I could not get my legs to stop shaking and started crying when my overload of emotions got the best of me.  I'm not joking -- I cried.  Chris had just arrived home when I walked into the house and he immediately thought something had happened.

Something did happen today.  I faced my fears.  Fears that have paralyzed me for longer than they should have.  I've been deathly afraid of my dream (as silly as my dream may seem to some), but today, I wanted my dream more.

Special Thanks to Bill Cosby.