5 Positives This Month

For years, we have had the goal of living a life debt free. It tooks years of saving,  hardcore budgeting, but we finally did it!

Anyone can do it. It's not easy to say the least.

 In several conference talks, the prophet said certain debts are acceptable, such as school, home and car.


1. We are now 100% out of debt, excluding a home loan. We have no car loans, no credit card debt, no student loan debt, zero bills at all!  Just one home loan. We both feel so free.

It hasn't always been easy for me to manage money, but after reading up on how to save for your future, I have turned a bit frugal.  This is a good thing. I like it.

Another positive is:

2. Being a stay at home mom. I feel so grateful for this opportunity.  I didn't always feel this way. I yearned to go back to teaching when Sunny was 18 months, but after considering a huge portion of my paycheck would cover the high cost of daycare, we decided it was better I stay at home.  I realize this is something not all mother's have the privilege of doing, and I am beyond grateful.

3. A hard working husband. Rodney is so quick minded.  I still haven't found something he can't do or fix. His memory is unbelievable.  He can remember the smallest of details which is a huge bonus and why he flies through his schooling.

His brilliant mind can do just about anything.  He is saving us a lot of money because he knows a lot about construction and building, and is tackling this job of building a shed like a pro.

When we moved into our home last April,  we striped our home of everything, except for bathtub, toilet and closets.  The cost of hiring a crew was thousands.  Doing it ourselves saved big time. I obviously had to learn a lot, but it made it so much more personal doing it on our own.  My only regret is doing crown molding in our living room. I was fixated on the idea of it for a long time. It was an extra expense and not really necessary when I think of it.

4. Lemons: I finally got rid of all my winter decor and put out the spring.  Decorating with fake lemons does add a degree of brightness to our home. I found this stuff at dollar store, Michaels,  a thrift store in town, and DI. The idea for this came from lemon decor ideas I just googled one day.

This one above is not my own creation, but one of the ideas I googled. I decided to recreate a similiar look. Source: unknown.

                  This is what I came up with in my                   kitchen.
         This is a refreshing site. It makes me feel like I'm in a tropical resort. Maybe a cute lemonade display would be fun too.

5.  My good friend had her baby boy on Friday. After several impromptu afternoon walks during the week to speed that labor along, we realized, this baby boy had a mind of his own. He was 5 days late, but he's finally here.  And look at how adorable she is rockin' that baby bump.

We are finally getting around to checking off more goals for our house. Getting grass and trees planted will be accomplished this month. Sunny will finally have a backyard to play in.

Speaking of Sunny, she is still having red hot flare ups in her cheeks and has been saying she has tummy aches. I think it's about time she goes in for allergy tests.


Post Partum Depression- It Is A Real Thing

This is a post I wrote on Sunday, but decided to not publish. Today, two days later, I decided that I really needed to publish it and talk openly about it. I don't talk about this to anyone. The very few people I have talked about it, have really no understanding of what it's like.

Please note that this is not a pity party or a need for attention. This is something that has been happening  for over 2.5 years. I can no longer keep it to myself.

I know there are many people out there who suffer from ppd, I just haven't met them yet.

I have never considered myself a depressed person.  I have always been extremly social and always willing and up for anything. Most of my friends in college described me as one of the happiest girls they knew.

After having a baby, something went wrong with myself. Nothing was the same again.

Part of the reason I don't like to talk about Postpartum depression is because of  guilt. I longed for a baby for so long, and when I do talk openly about it, I am afraid I'm setting myself up for judgement. It's almost like people are telling me to appreciate this tiny miracle and count my blessings.

And that is exactly what I do. However, no matter how hard I try to be how I need to be, the ppd just takes over. It's hard to explain.

When I told my mother what I was feeling 18 months after Sunny was born, she told me to stop complaining and stop talking about it.

I have never mentioned it again. It really is hard for people to understand I guess.

I decided to do some research and found a huge support group online. So many other women going through it.  Some only have it the normal length of time after a baby is born, the first month or so. Less have it as long as me, over 2.5 years later.

When I found out I was finally pregnant after 3 years, I was ecstatic. My whole pregnancy I was on cloud nine. I was myself, the person I always was before. Happy, excitable, friendly, outgoing, social, etc.

I knew something was wrong after Sunny was born.  I did not feel the normal excitement a mother is supposed to feel. I blamed that on the drugs.
However, months later, the sadness was not going away. I was nursing, Sunny was crying a lot due to skin ulcers she had. Rodney was working 14 hour shifts and never home.  I got through it.

As time went on, the baby blues were not going away.  I started feeling ashamed and told nobody.

After my hair started falling out aggressively, and the nursing was not ending, I began isolating myself even more. From all people. I did not want to be around anyone for a long time because nobody understood.

After moving to St. George, I felt the sunshine might help, but it didn't.  No matter how many happy things that happened in our life, nothing could boost myself up. Nothing!
 My ppd is still around, 2.5 years later.

The worst thoughts that go through my head is telling myself that I don't want to be a mother anymore. That Sunny deserves someone better. Those thoughts hurt so bad, but with postpartum depression, your thoughts are sometimes out of control.

With all the excerise I do, yoga, daily walking, and eating well, even doing the paleo diet from time to time, the postpartum depression is still there.  The doctor told me that sometimes those hormones just never never get back to normal, as in my case.

So, if anyone out there knows me and wonders what my deal is, especially many of my family members, living in same town as me, just please have some understanding. It is not you. It is 100% me. I wish that I could just make it go away, but with prayers and serving and living the gospel as I should, I know the Lord can make anything possible.

If you suffer from postpartum depression, there are online support groups out there, Lots of books, or even counseling. OR, if you know me personally, we can talk in person.

I hope in due time I can learn to talk more openly about it and not be ashamed.

I feel this needed to be published because I don't want to walk around and pretend anymore. Babies are wonderful blessings, and I am so honored to me a mother. I just want to be able to enjoy motherhood, as I should.
I hope Sunny knows how much I love her. She really is my miracle!


Week Re-cap and The BEST Greek Tacos

Growing up, I remember my mom made tuna noodle casserole a lot.  I remember the aroma coming from the oven and watching through the oven door the cheese bubbling on top. Sometimes I would sneak a huge sample with my fork and then cover the casserole back up.  Patience was not my strong point.

For two days, I have been craving this casserole. I haven't had it in a long time, and I am not sure what reminded me of it. There is no recipe I really follow.

So, as I write our weekly re-cap, Rodney is working on our taxes, Sunny is hanging on me, and I got a pot of noodles boiling.
 I am going to devoure this comfort food. I think I will top it with these yummy super grain aged parmesan croutons I picked up.

So, this week has been rather mellow. Nothing too exciting.  I have been noticing Sunny having flare ups in her her cheeks more then usual this week. Her cheeks get bright red. She may have this condition called, Rosacea. I'm not sure.  I noticed her cheeks started flaring up when she was about 6 months old. I shrugged it off to teething or She went into remission from it for awhile, and now it's back.  She also has small red clusters on her back which I assume is ezcema. It is off and on with her.

I do not want to be that paranoid mom, because I can be, but I am keeping an extra watch on her, just in case.

Sunny is funny in what she can handle and what she can't. For instance, she can eat sharp cheddar cheese, feta or parmesan cheese, yogurt, and other aged cultured dairy. She can't have mozerilla cheese or milk. She drinks almond milk.
  I was convinced she had an intolerance to all dairy, not it seems only some dairy.

As for wheat (gluten) products.  This is a tricky one. The kid lives off fish sticks most days for her main protein source, and they are coated with wheat flour. She handles them just fine. But then other days, I will give her a slice of wheat toast and she flares up in her cheeks.  Quite confusing.

You know what, I have the exact same thing going on with myself. I can handle eating wheat  and some dairy, and and other times I can't.  It seems the more I eat, the more I can handle. Interesting.

I am going to give it a week and see if this helps.  She does have allergies, and this time of year she gets them worse. Any kind of perfume, pollen, dust, fragrances, all seem to trigger a runny nose and itchy eyes. Her last doctor recommended an over the counter allergy medicine, however, this makes her drowsy and irritable,

So, I will wait it out and see if I need to schedule an appointment for her.  My method is always do what I can at home first (I do tons of reading and research) and if all fails, the doctor it is.

So, that is about what is happening around her. Nothing too exciting this week.

I wanted to share these Huge Greek Tacos from melskitchencafe.com. I have made these tacos about 15 times and I still can't get enough. Greek food is so healthy and fresh.  Nothing greasy.
At Costco, they carry Greek Pita Flatbread. It is high in fiber and all natural. Sometimes I get naan bread and will put in oven for about 3 minutes to slightly warm it.

I also get plain Greek yogurt for my tzatziki sauce. This is the same yogurt I make for Sunny, only I add a bit of raspberry jam to it to sweeten it up. It's lower in sugar this way.

Note: you can use grilled chicken as well. I have tried both.

My Favorite Greek Tacos

    Cucumber Tomato Salsa:
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 firm large tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 English cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Feta Mint Tzatziki:
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Lamb or Turkey:
  • 2 pounds ground lamb or turkey meat
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup broth (chicken, vegetable or beef)
  • For the pitas:
  • 6-8 non-pocket pita or soft wrap breads 
  1. At least one hour or as early as one day before you are serving, prepare the salsa and tzatziki. For the cucumber salsa, toss the olive oil, vinegar, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions in a bowl and season with salt and black pepper as needed. Cover and refrigerate for one hour or up to 24 hours to marry the flavors.
  2. For the tzatziki, peel the cucumber and shred on the large holes of a box grater. Place the shredded cucumber in a clean kitchen towel and wring out the excess water until the cucumber is very dry. In a medium bowl, stir together the strained cucumber, yogurt, feta, garlic and mint. Again, season with salt and pepper to taste. The tzatziki can be refrigerated up to 24 hours. Give it a good stir before serving.
  3. For the meat, heat a large, 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the ground lamb or turkey with the salt, pepper, onion and garlic, breaking up the meat into small pieces and cooking until the meat is cooked through, 8-10 minutes.
  4. Drain any excess grease. Stir in the oregano and tomato paste and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the broth and let the mixture simmer for 5-10 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Warm the pita breads in a cast iron skillet or in the microwave until soft and heated through. Serve the tacos by spooning meat into the center of a pita bread and topping with cucumber salsa and tzatziki.

Source: Melskitchencafe.com


Dance Your Heart Out and Greek Pizza

Happy Sunday! It's actually 10 minutes to midnight,  Saturday night.

Because I am only coming to this journal once a week now-Sundays-my posts are going to be a little lengthy. I figure most people will move on to the recipes, but for me it's really important to write what is in my heart and what is happening around here.

So what's been going on this month.

The townhome finally sold!  No more paying two mortgages, Yeah!!
We initially had the notion we were going to continue renting it, but after some negatives, we decided to put on market. We are happy with our choice. We are debating whether to invest in another local property with equity. Ahh, decisions!
We have read and heard too much of Trump's advice. He's great on financial advice and property investing but as for President,  don't get me started.

I have been going to an adult dance class. Is it silly for a mom to dance her heart out? I LOVE it! It makes me look like a teenager.
I haven't danced since my college years where I was an actual dance major for a year (long story why I changed majors) .

Now to digress a bit, let's move onto a Sunny update.

Sunny loves to paint, sing and color and dance. A real right brained gal.

She's not a good eater. Refusing most all vegetables and meat.

She's also picking out her own clothes, dressing herself, and expressing her opinion. She's sassy and will tell me off regularly. A real teenodler she's become.

At home she twirls not just her finger through her hair whenever she is tired.

I debated whether 2.5 was too young for dance class.

I have a feeling Sunny is going to be a dancer, just like her mama.

So as much as dancing is my passion, I realized that Sunny needed that too.
I signed her up and she is now taking dance lessons from the same gal who taught me when I a kid.

                           First day of class.
                          She is so friendly

                           Class attendance
                           After class fun
Sunny, my sweet, I hope this is the beginning of a rewarding dance journey for you.

As I watched Sunny dance from the window, I couldn't help but smile. The way she carried herself with such grace and poise. She's a natural.

So here are a few things on my mind today-

I am taking a lot of notice to Sunny's personality.  She is different then a lot of kids her age and older- but in a very positive way.  Sunny is very excitable. There is not a day that goes by that she doesn't show this to the world.

Whenever we are out and about, she usually takes notice to kids. She loves kids. She will wave and shout "Hello Friends"  every time.  I taught her that.

She's very affectionate to say the least.

Her excitement is contagious. Sunny tries to get others excited to play with her, even kids she doesn't know.

A lot of kids take time to warm up to her. I was one of those shy kids too.

Sunny is learning of the many personalities out there. Not everyone is alike, and that is okay.

What I do want Sunny to remember is to always remain true to herself. I don't want her to change who she is based on how others respond to her.

Some of other fun things we've been doing:

Feeding the Gibson's horse. I purchased a huge bag of carrots at Costco and we take a few up to him. She loves feeding and interacting with horse. This is how I spent much of my childhood doing.

Playdates. Sunny loves hanging out with her very best friend. Everyday, she has been asking to play with "Sawa" as she calls her. These two littles have a few years age difference,  but they play so well together. It's a refreshing break for me too. I actually was able to fold laundry really well.

Netflix- while it's rare for us to enjoy a good show, uninterrupted,  we have seen a few I need to recommend.  I am a huge suspense junkie, and i highly recommend these two series after kids are in bed.
The Fall. This is a series and so exciting and suspenseful. A new series will be out this year.

Broadchurch- oh my, this was as exciting as the fall. If you love mysterious,  this is it.

X-files- the return of the show premieres tonight. On tv, not netflix.  Rodney has been on the countdown. He actually came to me this morning jumping up and Down. That's true excitement!!

How Mama is doing:

I can easily sum it up here:

Motherhood,  you demanding, under- paying, exhausting, sleepless, stinky, messy, wonderfully fantastic thing, you.

Most days I am spent, but I wouldn't want it any other way.

To other mama's out there: if your toddler naps, and willingly goes to bed before 10 pm, consider yourself lucky.

Rodney and I would love a date to see Star Wars. He got me hooked
Getting someone to babysit is a challenge though. Nobody wants to do it. I do pay and have treats and pizza.

Anyway, that is mainly the brunt of what's happening.

I mentioned lengthy post,  right?

A few weeks ago, we went to a place called Rigatti's for some pizza.  So good. My favorite is the greek pizza.  I love greek anything. We love making pizza at home on weekends and decided to make it. Remember,  for Greek inspired meals, keep the staples of cucumber,  tomatoes,  olives, plain greek yogurt, and feta cheese. I have a recipe for greek tacos on flatbread/pita that I will share soon.

You can be creative. Make your crust thin or use flatbread to make individual pizza. It is all great. Artichokes and green olives as well as spinach is fantastic too.

As for tzatziki sauce, you will want that on top of your pizza.  It makes all the difference.

Greek pizza

Homemade pizza dough, choose your favorite recipe. Thin crust preferred.

Ingredients for basic pizza
Feta cheese
Meat of choice or vegetarian

Fresh ingredients for after pizza is baked
Tzatziki sauce for on top

On rolled pizza dough, spoon tomato sauce evenly around pizza. Top with above ingredients. Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes

Top with cucumber,  feta, and t- sauce.

For t sauce, in a bowl, combine 1 cup plain greek yogurt,  1 T. Feta, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.  Stir


One Pot Curried Cauliflower Rice

So, how is the limited technology going, you ask?  First off, I realized that it is much harder then I ever thought. My brain is so wired to go to certain recipe sites online that I often went straight to the computer (our second source of technology besides my phone). I found myself searching through recipe cookbook indexes instead, which is okay if you are patient.  The other struggle with no internet at fingertips, ie:phone, was not being able to take quick pictures of Sunny.  I have not used a regular camera in who knows how long.

Today, which is Sunday, is the day I gave myself permission long ago, to do my journaling. My journal is this blog. I have not written anything in a old fashioned journal in about a year.

Sticking with the no internet except Sunday rule is what I favor. Just like the no sugar until weekend rule. It's wonderful!

I find that sticking to a consistant pattern is what my brain chemistry prefers. I also find that my brain enjoys the de-cluttering and energized effect it gets by limiting how passive I become  when I am glued to a screen (TV or internet). So not good for your brain or mind.

So, consistant it will be.  Here is to a new year goal.

I love sharing my favorite recipes and I have several curries I love. This one is no exception. The tender chick peas and cauliflower make it so nutritious, and that balance of curry, rich satisfying heavy cream, and tumeric flavor make this meal pure comfort.

You may mix half quinoa and half jasmine rice together,which I cooked in chicken stock for more enhanced flavor.

Adding a touch of parm on top just makes this meal all more lovely. I think even children will enjoy this meal. Seved with naan and a bit of chopped cilantro, it's amazing.

 It's full of veggies and it's a one pot meal.

One Pot Curried Cauliflower Rice:

**note** you can either combine rice with curry, or not. If you choose to keep rice seperately, just reduce simmer time.

  •  4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp. tumeric powder
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 1/2 cups balsmati, jasmine, or other long-grain white rice, precooked in chicken stock.
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream or coconut cream
Aged parmesan cheese and cilantro for sprinkling over meal, optional.

In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring frequently, until browned in spots. Transfer to a plate and season with salt and pepper.
You may also steam the cauliflower (that is what I did). All that matters is that it is tender cauliflower.
 Add 2 teaspoons oil and onion to pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 5 minutes. Add cooked rice, curry powder, and chickpeas and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring constantly, until rice is coated, about 2 minutes. Add stock and cream and bring to a boil. Add cooked cauliflower and mix in.  Allow to simmer until liquid is absorbed.
Serve in bowls and add parmesan cheese on top.

Source: Recipe adapted from Stephanie Nielson.


Basil Chicken Coconut Curry Over Rice

I had this dream one night. I went back in time. I left the year 2016 and was in the year 1961. I don't know why  I dreamed of that specific year. Maybe because I was watching my favorite movie,  Breakfast At Tiffany's and that is the year it was filmed. Who Knows!  

The point is, The dream was fantastic. I was back in high school as a teacher, and nobody had cell phones or knew what texting was. People didn't use computers and teachers recorded everything with notebooks and pencils.

I remember walking around looking at the awesome fashions. Women carried purses instead of backpacks (more hip, ya think) and wore mules and shift dresses. The girls had bangs and wore a lot of pony tails.  The guys were romantic and gave the girls love notes between classes or dropped them in their locker vents. After school, they made plans for the weekend in person, and then headed out for some fun.

The guys serenaded the girls under the moon while romantic music played on the radio.

I woke up with a smile on my face. This dream felt real. Why couldn't life be that simple still. Why has this age of technology changed the simplicity and socialization that happened back then.

To be honest, I didn't want to return to 2016. I felt happy in the year 1961.

That day, I handed over the husband my phone and had him hide it. I wouldn't need it back. No!!!!

No internet for me, no cooking blogs, no pinterest, no blogging.  Zero, zip, nada, zilch!

I would look through my Betty Crocker Cookbook and find a recipe.

So, that's what I did.

She didn't have no curry and I really wanted me some curry. So, I sneaked the internet, just for a moment. I would go on melskitchencafe.com and find my favorite curry recipe. 

I got my recipe, but while I was at it, I would check a few other things, like facebook and do a few blog posts, like this one and the one before!  Mise well do it all at once, right?

20 minutes went by and I was suddenly in a different world. Internet does that. I logged off and committed to being back in the year 1961.

Now, I am on my way to get a new 1961 haircut, a few highlights and a shift dress. Good thing the shift dress I want is on sale.  Oh, and I can't forget the shoes and t-bird. 
Source: unknown

Life maybe more simple without the technology there for me, but I am committed to making this my new year resolution. I am going to plug out and be plugged in to what matters.

Sunny starts her first dance class next week. I am excited to see how that goes.
More time in the backyard once weather is nice
I have my gym membership, thank goodness.

I think I can manage to  stay busy!

Now, finally on to this recipe. It is one of my favorites and I had to share. I hope you enjoy it as well.

  • Ingredients:

  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (by seeding the jalapeno you lose most of the spice/heat but retain great flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 cups hot cooked rice
  1. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Place in medium bowl. Stir together curry, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and chili powder. Sprinkle over chicken, tossing to coat evenly. Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. In a large nonstick frying pan, stir onion, basil, garlic and peppers in hot oil over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, until onion is translucent. Add chicken and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 5-6 minutes until no longer pink.
  3. Combine coconut milk and cornstarch and whisk well to combine. Carefully add to skillet, whisking vigorously. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in ginger. Cook and stir for another minute. Serve over hot rice.

Source: melskitchencafe.com


Whole Foods Challenge

I don't usually set goals on Jan. 1. I set goals all the time. Sometimes I succeed, other times I fail. 

Usually my success is triggered from either a role model or a real desire to obtain something. 

Last week, my morning walking partner informed me she was on a 30 day detox diet or paleo diet.

I replied with, "Thee paleo diet!" Oh my gosh,  are you serious?. I did this same diet for 30 days about 3.5 years ago and felt amazing.

She's new to this diet and was only on day 2, but I informed her it is my favorite 30 day diet ever. EVER!!!

I've said it before and I will say it again. This diet will make you feel unbelievably good. How good?
1. Better then a runner's high?,  Yes!
2. Better then working out for an hour? Yes!
3. Better then those feel good pregnancy hormones? Yes!
4.  Better then chocolate, 
The list goes on.

I told my curious friend that she will soon find out what I'm talking about.

She later explained her husband was worried about her doing this diet while pregnant. I told her I did it 50 percent while I was expecting Sunny and how I felt like a hyperactive woman most days. The energy you feel is out of this world. And, the diet is full of nutrient rich foods.

Here is the thing. Some people think quinoa is a grain. Others think it's a seed. Grains are not allowed on the PD. But, seeds are. I love quinoa so much and I really think its more of a seed. When I saw an idea for greek quinoa bowls, I knew I needed to try this and join my friend on this diet for 30 days. You should too!!

Ingredients for Greek Quinoa Bowls

1 1/2 c. Cooked quinoa in chicken stock

Choice of raw fresh veggies, amount us your choice
Green olives
Baby A rugulla
Diced cucumber
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Feta cheese
Fresh parsley, mint, cilantro

Place quinoa in bowl and top quinoa with veggies.

Greek t zatziki sauce
1 Chopped cucumber
2 c. Plain greek yogurt
Salt pepper to taste
1 tsp. Dill
1 T. Lemon juice
Combine and drizzle over quinoa and veggies.

For Southwest bowls, add
Black beans
Chicken or pulled pork


Mango Salsa (see January archive on right for recipe)