Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Appetizers to Ring in the New Year!

Jenny again - I thought it might be fun to share some easy and appealing appetizers that I've discovered this season, in case you're hosting a holiday party in the near future (or attending a holiday potluck). They're easy to make ahead of time and store in the fridge or pantry without taking up too much room.

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This dip tastes great with whole grain crackers, and looks really festive with multi-colored tortilla chips...You might prefer to use frozen bagged spinach with this recipe (Hint: it will turn out greener that way).

Spinach Dip

1 pint of sour cream
2 tbsp. of mayo
1 can of spinach (drained)
1 packet of vegetable soup seasoning (I like Lipton's Onion Soup Mix)

Directions: Combine all and chill in the fridge. (P.S. If you're careful, you can mix it in the sour cream container and stick it in the fridge until you're ready to transfer it to a more party-worthy bowl.)

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This tangy sauce works well for meatballs, too. Add pineapple tidbits for an extra zing.

Mini Party Sausages

1 can of whole-cranberry cranberry sauce
1 bottle of barbecue sauce
2 packages of mini party sausages (Little Smokies)

Directions: Combine all in a slow cooker or fondue pot. I like to store it in the "pot" part of my mini crock pot and stick it in the fridge until I'm ready to heat it up for the party.

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Believe it or not, this dip contains roughly half the fat and calories of ranch dressing. And it tastes better, too! The best part is, it's super quick and easy - If you're on your way to a New Year's potluck, just swing by the grocery store and pick up the ingredients along with a bag of baby carrots. You can mix it up in a jiff when you get there (If you're all about the presentation, bring a bowl and platter to set out the dip and veggies on).

Veggie Dip

1 half-pint of sour cream
1 packet of powdered Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix (NOT the Dip Mix...Yuck)

Directions: Add the packet of ranch dressing mix to the half-pint of sour cream. (You can mix it up in the container, just watch the powdered dressing mix!) Store it in the fridge until you're ready to use it, or spoon it right into your party platter.

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So good, you'll find out your hands can't move fast enough from the bowl to your mouth. (The powdered sugar gives it a nice "frosted" look, too.)

Chocolate Chex

1 cup of chocolate chips
1/2 cup of peanut butter
1/4 cup of butter
1 box of corn Chex cereal
1 cup of powdered sugar

Directions: Put about 2/3 of the corn Chex in a large bowl with a lid. Melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter together in the microwave (for about 1 minute) and stir with a spatula until smooth. Pour the melted mixture over the corn Chex, using the spatula to coat the cereal evenly. Slowly sprinkle the powdered sugar over the cereal, again using the spatula to coat it evenly. Don't be too aggressive with the spatula, or you'll end up with a bunch of chocolate-coated Chex crumbs. Store at room temperature in the same bowl (covered) or in a ziploc bag.

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I'd love to get your recipes, too! Go ahead and post it via comment. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cornucopia (Horn of Plenty)

This is Jenny - I decided to change pace with a post about something other than our latest adventures. Plus, I have to tell you about Bountiful Baskets.

For those of you who haven't heard about Bountiful Baskets, it's a weekly produce pick-up - provided by local co-ops - where you get a basket full of fresh fruits and vegetables for $15.00...yes, $15.00!!! I love it!

You can go to www.bountifulbaskets.org to sign up starting at 7:00 p.m. every Monday for the pick-up on Saturday (It's $18.00 for your first pick-up) - But you have to hurry, the pick-ups fill up fast! You just pay online with your debit or credit card, and they have pick-up locations all across the Western United States, so it's ridiculously convenient...Our closest pick-up point is less than 10 minutes away.

I've never enjoyed shopping, and so I prefer this much more than combing grocery store ads for sales, and picking out produce that looks decent and standing in line...Plus, you could never get all of this produce at the store for $15.00. Check out this week's basket!

Amazing!...pineapple, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, cantaloupe, 7 Fuji apples, 4 Asian pears (SO DELICIOUS), 1 carton of blackberries, 3 bunches of bananas, 4 tomatoes, 3 seedless cucumbers, 1 bunch of celery, 1 head of romaine lettuce

Giant organic blackberries from our Bountiful Basket...mmm!

Stuffed spaghetti squash with parmesan...beautiful!

Let's have spaghetti squash instead of turkey for Thanksgiving next year! (Just kidding...)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I guess it's time for another post...

Um, let's see...Work, work, school, work, school, work, work, FUN, work, school, school, work, FUN, work, work, school...THANKSGIVING! That's all.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, here are a few pictures of this fall...Halloween, Luke's wedding, Thanksgiving, and our first real snow of the year! I guess we did have some fun after all. :)

Zorro and his Senorita.

Jenny...caught in the act.

The newlyweds...Luke and Rebecca.

Feast, friends and family.

(Clockwise from the far end of the table:
Jason, Tana and Paul, Lindsay, Spencer, Ammon, Jen, Jenny)

More of friends and family.

(Around the island: Quinn and Lisa, Robbie)

Aaron, just off on his own, reading.

Robbie, Ben and the abominable 9-foot snowman.

Aaron all bundled up.

Ammon, Jenny and Aaron...ready for a "sleigh" ride!

It's a one-man open sleigh! (Ben pulling Lisa, Lisa pulling Ammon, Aaron and Jenny)

Oh, the weather outside is frightful!...But beautiful.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Summer Pictures Are Up!

It's been one of the best Idaho summers ever, and with five of Jenny's best friends back in town for school for the few months, she has high hopes that this will be one of the best falls ever, too (if she can ever get over this mean flu bug).

You can click here to see all of the pictures of our summer adventures: Click here to see pictures of the Best Idaho Summer Ever!

I wish I could tell you about everything, but I think these pictures are, as they say, worth a thousand words. In case you were mistakenly under the impression that Idaho is a God-forsaken wasteland, you should know that the best part of Idaho
summers - along with family reunions and the Fourth of July, of course -
is the incredible scenery and wildlife. It's everywhere - sometimes it feels like the Garden of Eden is in our backyard (maybe not literally, although we do have a great backyard...You can see it by linking to the picture album above).

Our own garden did pretty well this year, too - which you can also see pictures of in this photo album...We don't have kids, so we're reduced to posting pictures of our vegetables.

Among some of the most memorable of our adventures this summer were visiting two of Idaho's national parks - Yellowstone (which we share with Wyoming) and Craters of the Moon (that's where we took this picture of Jenny is an enormous crater).

Erupting geysers, multi-colored bottomless pools of boiling-hot water, thundering waterfalls, lunar-like craters, and caves decorated with icicle-stalactites are only a few of the strange and beautiful things you'll marvel at there. That's why I've only posted a few pictures here - you really have to see all of the pictures in the album to be able to imagine it (unless you've been there, of course).

We also visited the famous Mesa Falls - the Niagra of the West. You can't get close enough to it to take a full-scale picture, but I can tell you that those green cliffs you see in the background are about a quarter-mile high.

We stayed pretty active this summer – We ran a couple of 5k’s together , hiked up and over the Targhee mountains to the Palisades (you can see the Palisades mountain lake here and the creek that flows down from it to the Swan Valley), and Jenny even swam in a triathlon. She’s planning on taking on the whole triathlon on her own next summer (swimming, biking and running). Better start training!

Oh, and we can’t forget to mention that on our hike back down from the Palisades, we almost ran right into a big bull moose, who happened to be watering himself for the evening only a few feet from our trail. Bull moose aren’t exactly the type of wildlife you want to cross paths with when you have only a couple hours of daylight left. In this video you can see that he takes one last annoyed look at us before deciding to let us by...We had been waiting on him for almost an hour at this point.

Honorable last-mentions of the summer - seeing Despicable Me in 3-D for Jenny's birthday (thanks for the gift card, Mom and Dad!) and, for Jenny, going to her company's annual convention.

That's all for now...We're excited to start sharing our fall memories with you soon!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Idaho Only Has Two Seasons...

Winter, and FUN! Well, you know that we have fun in the winter, too - But I think summer is twice the fun.

This is a true story: Since my last post was about winter, I was waiting for it not to be winter anymore before posting again. Well, that finally happened around June 17th - summer came, that is - and, lo and behold, Ben's entire family came to stay with us for about a month around that time. We had a BLAST!

But, needless to say, I haven't had much time for blogging lately. The other reason for that, which I believe is worth mentioning as well, is that I started working full-time with Melaleuca in April. Melaleuca is a catalog company that markets personal care and wellness products around the globe, and I've loved working with them so far - They're a very team-oriented group. I've been working with the marketing operations team, providing support on special events, communications, and global store branding (we're building stores in Asia vs. marketing through catalogs). Admittedly, I miss working in healthcare where the "customers" are your neighbors and friends, but there's no doubt that it's been a great experience to work with Melaleuca.

As for summer, I have pictures I want to show off, too, but I'll have to save that for another day - We just had WAY too much this summer for me to cover it all in one blog post, so stay posted!

Here's a preview:






Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Winter Games

The British Columbians weren't the only ones having fun this winter. Even though we had a great time watching the 2010 Olympics - especially the snowboarding and ice skating events (GO TEAM USA!) - we had a lot of our own fun in the ice and snow this year. Here a few of the cool moments we captured...

Mmm, fish head...quite the kitty delicacy.

A sunny day, cross country skiing at Kelly's Canyon!

At the top...what a view!

You've gotta keep warm somehow.

Snowboarding at Targhee.

Wet cat.

A game of peek-a-boo.


So, winter was a blast, but I'm happy to see the last of the snow melting away. With a backyard to barbecue in and a garden in the works, it's sure to be a fun spring!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Why Idaho?

Lately, I've realized just how attached I've become to Idaho, especially Rexburg, in just 5 years. I know that living in Idaho seems counter-intuitive to many of my southeastern-United States-dwelling family and friends, but allow me to express my thoughts in a way that I haven't before.

I suppose that I've become something of an unofficial-official spokesperson for Rexburg, having worked in communications with the local university and hospital for a number of years now. Of course, to be a good spokesperson, you have to really believe in what you say, and, fortunately, I really do. There's something beautiful and simple about Idaho that appeals to me and so many others who have made Rexburg their home.

I've been thinking lately, I wish that I could see how much of Rexburg's growth in the past few years could be traced back to me in one way or another. It's been exciting to watch the Entrepreneurial Center blossom and grow in Rexburg, and then spread to other university communities in Idaho, considering that only 4 years ago, it was no more than a rough concept I had outlined in a word processor. That tiny seed has grown into a grove of trees more rapidly than any of us could have imagined. And, the arrival of just one medical specialist in Rexburg, a long-time friend and neighbor from Georgia, has rippled through the medical community and attracted other specialists, who would have otherwise had no interest here.

I'm not saying that this is all because of me. No, so many have played a part in Rexburg's growth, and this place has an appeal that's all its own, like I mentioned before. Certainly, there's a Greater Power at work in people's lives, as well. But, when I look over Rexburg and marvel at the Grand Tetons and the Snake River, winding through the valley, I can't help but marvel, too, at the influence each person has, and how so many have ended up here, blissfully content in a desert wilderness.

Don't get me wrong, winter does have a tendency to drag on, but even the winter scenery will take your breath away, and I'm not talking about the 50 mph winds. In this valley, Mother Nature wears her simplest, most beautiful dresses. The mountains are unobscured, untouched spaces where the land meets the sky. It's pure - almost sacred. Life is simpler, too. People are neighborly, and they love the outdoors almost as much as they love their families - although the two usually go together in the shape of camping trips and hikes. This is a place where people put their families first. Grudges and prejudices are relatively few and far between.

It's true, this is how people live in the Gem State. And, while life in Idaho isn't always perfect, I'm starting to believe that this is as close as it gets on earth.

- Jenny

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Welcome Home, Ellie

Yesterday we adopted a little kitten named Ellie through HART (Helping Animals Rescue Team). She was skin and bones and shaking all over when we brought her home, but after a warm bath and little cuddling, she learned how to purr and she looks healthier already. We've (Ben's) had lots of fun playing with her already. Jenny just likes to cuddle her. Here she is! She's a little camera shy...







































If you'd like to adopt an animal, too, you can visit HART's Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Helping-Animals-Rescue-Team-HART/120589807219 or call your local Animal Shelter.

Here's a hint: Most shelters and Humane Society's post their available adoptable animals on Facebook or on http://www.petfinder.com/index.html, where you can search by location, breed and age. It's a lot easier than online match-making, that's for sure...and more fun!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Help Wanted

I'm job searching. There. I said it. I'm not ashamed. I read the "Classifieds" first thing every day. I've bookmarked all of East Idaho's big employers' websites. I'm "LinkedIn."

I'm looking for something full-time. Or for more consulting jobs. Either one. Right now, I'm looking at the open community affairs position at the City of Rexburg and the executive director position at Downtown Idaho Falls. They're both in the marketing and planning line of work, and sound like the right fit. If you hear of something along those lines in East Idaho, let me know!

Ideally, I would love to keep working in Rexburg. I'm familiar with businesses and the people there, and I think the city has so much in store in its future. I'd like to be a part of that. Maybe this job at the City of Rexburg will the right thing.

- Jenny