Aug 29, 2009

Happy birthday Roberto & Buford!

We had a birthday party for Rob & Brad a couple of weeks ago. Jeff & Carolyn were in town with their boys, so we actually had the entire Hanson family there. We had a BBQ at our house and had a great time. Dan made an amazing honey glazed garlic tri-tip steak that was so tasty, then we made shrimp skewers that also had a honey glaze on them. I made a yummy buffalo chicken dip that I got from gourmet club that was a huge hit. I'll have to post the recipe later. We made corn on the cob and my brother jeff added apple cider vinegar and sugar to the water which made the corn sweet and delicous. I forgot to take pictures from the dinner, but we have some of the rest of the evening. The rest of the kids gave Rob & Brad snuggies, which they proudly wore. FYI, no, Sienna isn't walking yet, but she loves to cruise around the furniture, climb stairs and walk with people helping her.

Rob & Brad with our cute nephews Carter & Tommie

Nelly, Jeff & Carolyn

Love that face!!!

Thanks, Rob! (Lookin' really good, by the way!) Much better!

Stuffed Strawberries

I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago for a family party and had to share. I also made them for book club for an easy snack/dessert. They are super easy and insanely delicious! It would be very easy to lighten the recipe by using fat free cream cheese and fat free whip cream or a sugar substitute. I did some using almond extract and some using vanilla. I think the vanilla was my favorite.

Stuffed Strawberries
1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat)
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp almond or vanilla extract
1 quart strawberries, capped
Chocolate shavings

Directions: In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, and almond/vanilla extract until smooth. Spoon cream cheese mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip. (You could also use a ziplock baggie, and just cut the corner). Chill for 1 hour (I skipped this step and they still turned out great). Quarter strawberries from tip to stem end without cutting them all the way through. You could also cut them the opposite direction, like the top picture, but then they don't stand up. Pipe cream cheese mixture into strawberries. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Chill until ready to serve.

Happy 1st Birthday to my baby girl!

How crazy is that!? Sienna turned one on August 12th, 2009. I can't believe how quickly this year has flown by. Sienna has been such a fun baby. She's been an amazing sleeper, she has such a sweet personality & loves to giggle. She is very sweet-natured and has really gone easy on us, so I'm worried about what kind of toddler she will be! :)
She's not much of a cuddler, but makes up for it in spunk and personality. She is such a busy girl, I swear she never sits still. Sienna has brought such incredible joy into our lives. It's definitely been a whirlwind and a crash-course in parenting, but I am so grateful for the things I have learned in the process.

On Sienna's actual birthday we took one of my patient's to a Bee's game for our "Make-A-Wish" program. It was a great game and she was a trooper. The Bee's won and the firework show was one of the best I've seen.
Sienna is turning into such a daddy's girl. She can't get enough of him.

Watching her first fireworks. I love the look on her face.

The Saturday after her birthday we had a little party with mostly family (and a few close friends). It was suppose to be a Summer Splash Bday party, but the weather didn't really cooperate. It rained all morning, but then the sun came out just before the party. We BBQ'd and had cupcakes for dessert.

We of course had to have a few token pictures of Sienna going to town on her birthday "cake" (I took the easy road and just gave her a cupcake). She didn't really know what to do with it at first, but as you can see she soon figured it out and loved it. We had to hose her down afterward, so she kind of looks like a rugrat in the rest of the pictures. (I wasn't smart enough to think of opening gifts before devouring the cupcake!)

Thanks to everyone who came and for spoiling my little girl! She got hooked up with such great giftsLove those eyelashes!
This micky mouse ride-a-long toy is from her Grandma and Grandpa Hanson. She can't get enough of it and can't wait until she can ride on it all by herself! Of course she was just as happy with the packaging as she was the gifts! She also had plenty of friends to "help" her open her presents! (Espcially her cousin Cassie!)
Get after it, girl! (Sorry to whoever left with bitemarks in their flipflops!) Her Uncle Rob gave her Grover and she's definitely a fan!

Sad that this is the only picture I got of Dan!

Aug 16, 2009

House hunting woes...

Shoot me now, please! We've been casually looking over the past several months, but have only recently begun seriously house-hunting. I'm getting a headache just thinking about this whole process. We always thought we were going to live in South Salt Lake county, like maybe Draper or Sandy. The more we looked, the more we realized that there are just fewer options in that area in our price range, and we can get a newer, nicer, bigger home elsewhere, so we widened our search. We have some friends who live in Daybreak and just love it, so we started looking out there. We kind of got our heart set on Daybreak, but the more we looked, the more we realized how many of the homes for sale are short sales, which take forever, and even if you made an offer and waited out the several months, you still don't even know if it's yours! We also came to the conclusion that we moved to Utah to be close to family and it takes forever to get out there. We revamped and started looking in the Traverse Mountain and Thanksgiving Point area. I really have had to get my head around the idea of living in Lehi. I know that kind of sounds snobish, but you have to understand that when I grew up in Highland, Lehi was hicktown, total podunk hicktown. It really was. Thanksgiving Point and Traverse Mountain, that whole area was actually Highland when I was growing up, then it was annexed to Lehi. Lehi has changed alot over the years and it's a very different place now, so I just need to get over it. (No offense to anyone who grew up in Lehi! :) We really like Traverse Mountain area (very close to the freeway), and were ready to make an offer if we found the right house. Well, we went to look at more houses yesterday and our eyes were opened to a few things. We were really excited before we went yesterday and now I feel like we're back to square one. We really like the look of the homes in Traverse Mountain(there are some really beautiful homes up there!). We love that they are relatively new, lots of young families, the neighborhood seems great and the people who live there really seem to like it (despite the wind and a little more snow in the winter). That area is definitely the best deal per square foot and it seems like you get a lot of bang for your buck. Having said that, we have found some problems with the lots, inaccessible yards, will those homes (with inaccessible yards, or weird lots) always limit/decrease the value of your home? It seems so. And because there is such a high number of foreclosures they have also had some problems with the HOA. They have had so many vacant homes they haven't had the $ to follow through with some of their promises. The particular neighborhood we have looked in apparently had a ton of investors buy homes, then when they can't get the return then they are just letting the banks take them. The builder also went belly up before it was completed, so they have had a huge inventory of new homes, which is part of why there are so many great deals up there. I have a friend who is renting there and loves it so much they are buying in the area. In fact, anyone we talk to who lives there loves it. The people who are moving from there aren't people who don't like the area, they are mostly investors and families who can't afford their homes. Another thing that is frustrating is that Dan and I value different things. We both really want to be in a great community. We seem to like the same areas. Dan wants the biggest bank for his buck, the best resale value. While I also take that into consideration, I don't think we need to have a 4,000 sq ft home, just because it's the best deal, the best price per sq. ft. I'd be happy in a 3 bedroom with an unfinished basement. That would definitely give us room to grow. SO...we are going to step back and rethink our priorities. Again. We may consider a townhome, so that we can just keep it as an investment and rent it out when we outgrow it and can buy a bigger place. I think we'll keep looking in Draper, American Fork, North/Northeast Lehi. I think we'll look in some other developments in Traverse Mountain as well. Oh, and then there's the financing issues, all the insane hoops you have to jump through. I understand why they have all these new guidelines, but it's still frustating to get caught up in the red tape. Well, because Dan has only been an appraiser for just over a year, he does not meet the consecutive 2-year self-employment history requirement (even though he has been in real estate for 10 years). So, even though we have a good down payment and we have the income to comfortably pay the mortgage, it's still crazy getting qualified. I think we have it worked out now, but it's definitely been a crazy process. My mom says to just keep looking and that eventually we'll find an area and a home that just feels right...but where!? Any insight? I'll definitely keep you posted!

Aug 13, 2009

Cheese Tortellini Pesto Pasta Salad

This is a recipe I stole from my friend Sara. I love taking it to summer BBQ's. It's always a huge hit! (I really love the cheese tortellini and the artichokes). It'd be really good with sundried tomatoes as well, or with summer sausage or salami.

Cheese Tortellini Pesto Pasta Salad

1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained, quartered 1 (10 ounce) cont. grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise 1 (6 ounce) can medium black olives, drained, sliced in half lengthwise 1 green or red bell pepper, diced 1 (20 ounce) package cheese-filled egg tortellini, cooked al dente, drained (fresh or frozen) 1/3 cup olive oil, more if needed 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, the kind in the can 1 (8 ounce) jar basil pesto 1/2 teaspoon salt, more if needed 2 teaspoons minced garlic 12 ounces mozzarella cheese, cubed (you can also use sliced string cheese) 8 ounces (half of a 1 lb. box) rotini pasta, cooked al dente, drained (multicolored pasta looks best!)


Cook pastas, set aside to drain and cool a bit. In large bowl or punch bowl, add rest of ingredients, folding gently til well mixed. Gently fold in pastas well. Adjust seasoning to taste, meaning, add more salt, parmesan, etc…Serve immediately, or refrigerate. *If you make this say a day ahead of time, you'll need to "refresh" this. Just add a bit more olive oil, salt and parmesan before serving. This salad is best, though, room temp, or even slightly warm.