being sick, forks over knives, and bronson's almost done with school

Sunday, April 23, 2017

OPERATION: GET BETTER -- except, I learned you're supposed to have a Cool Mist Humidifier, so I returned the warm one haha. 

They say you have to spend 10,000 hours doing something to become an expect. I think this week will complete my 10,000th hour of being sick.

Luckily, I feel like I was given alot of help - in regards to tips, ideas - while I was sick and I hope compiling everyones recommendations together I can combat getting sick. Ever. Again. Please!?

This has been my third sinus infection since Christmas. Which doesn't sound like alot, but feels like a lot, since each sickness takes about 2+ weeks to really get over.

Some things I realized:
1. It takes alot of work to get better. I took Wednesday off from work, partially because I sounded like a horse and partially because I was dependent on kleenexes every moment of the day. Not a pretty sight. Instead of doing the typical "lay in bed all day," I was drinking hot teas every half-hour. I used and abused the NetiPot. And I breathed over a boiling pot with essential oils mixed in over and over again.

2. My new, latest and greatest invention is the roll on the belt. As aforementioned, I need some toilet paper every moment of the day and I got annoyed walking back and forth to the bathroom so I grabbed my belt, threaded the toilet paper roll through and fastened it around my waist. I even wore that thing while I napped. New BFF. Worst idea I've had was send this picture to my co-worker who sent me a "get better soon!" text. I went to work to find out everyone saw it. Just lost my coolness reputation.

3. The NetiPot. I saw my sister use it years ago -- and its like the weirdest thing you'll see. But, after she coached me on the phone and a few YouTube videos later I tried it. And I did it 7 more times that day. I think on the 8th time I finally became an expert on it.

4. Documentaries. I love a good documentary. And on Monday night we watched "Fed Up," for one of Bronson's classes. My goodness it made me so grateful I don't have a soda pop addiction, a mother who cooked homemade meals every night, and growing up in a family with the means to participate in athletics and other activities that contributed to a healthy lifestyle.

On Wednesday though, I did watch "Forks Over Knives," a documentary on the health benefits of a plant based diet. I have a few family members that eat a whole foods plant based diet -- and I made fun of them for it, and I feel so bad about that. Now, I completely understand why they do. If you want to watch something that will make you re-think what you put in your body, watch it. Plant based diet is eating whole foods that are non-animal products (so no meat or dairy). Excluding ice-cream from my diet will be probably the hardest thing for me, so baby steps, but my family members have already shared great alternative recipes for yummy desserts. But what ultimately "shook" me was when they showed a double by pass surgery, and they took an artery from a man's leg and put it in his heart, and showing all the cholesterol that had blocked his artery. That was ENOUGH for me to realize I needed to make some lifestyle changes. Another interesting part that was absolutely AMAZING was how they showed how real life individuals who suffered from Type II Diabetes and how their diabetes was REVERSED with plant based eating. Get out.

Bronson's not totally on board with plant based eating and thats okay. However, after watching that documentary, it completely changed my mindset about food/lifestyle. I want to live well and be healthy ESPECIALLY after we retire and I believe the best way to do that is healthy eating and exercise. But first, I got to get better! Which, I will need to cut out dairy for a month to see if that helps decreases my sinus infection problems.

5. Being sick as an adult is overrated. When I was talking to my mom on the phone she said, "I wish I could bring you some chicken noodle soup." We hung up and that sounded SO good. I was picking up Bronson at the time and as soon as he got in the car I said, "You are going to make chicken noodle soup!" Bronson said, "For who?!" Me: "FOR ME!" And he did.

One cool thing from this week, my cousin Haley Smith, launched a baby quilt and swaddle line. They are ADORABLE. I just need every single one. They are so cute. Check it out HERE.

Bronson had a final on Friday and Saturday and we went to Firehouse subs and frozen yogurt to celebrate - his favorite. He has two more to go and then we leave for Hawaii in a week. This time next year he will be graduating and this time last year I graduated! The weather here has been absolutely beautiful -- so invigorating! Here's to hopefully a better week than last week!

Gardner news

Monday, April 17, 2017

Posting this picture, because its the farthest thing from reality. You'll find me in my bed surrounded by water bottles and Kleenexes. 

I'll just skip the usual boring stuff from the week and cut to the chase. Bronson and I are moving! And this is where it gets really anti-climatic. We are moving half a mile east. Whoot whoot! 

We love the apartment we are living in, the security of the apartment complex, being the FIRST residents to live in these walls, the big picture windows that shed so much light in the mornings, the white subway tile *ahh*, we are going to miss everything about this place. But because they seem it fit to charge you more Benjamins than I care to give, we are moving. 

We will move in a couple months -- and then after that, who knows where! Bronson is already looking at potential jobs for post-graduation and it makes me excited to think that wherever we move to, although we won't know ANYONE, the church makes it pretty easy to make friends and feel comfortable. 

The way we got our apartment was the manager came over to our apartment and interviewed us for 30 minutes. He does this for all the applicants so he can get a feel for who everyone is. What was really going through my head was : what? are we going through an adoption agency process where they come and see your house and interact with you?! So I cleaned the house for hours to the point where it looked like we didn't even live here. That stressed Bronson out like crazy. What we weren't expecting was him to offer us the apartment right then and there. But we signed over our security deposit check and he left -- I was half relieved we didn't have to keep looking, half relieved it was cheaper than the rent we would have to start paying, and relieved we would still be in the same ward. 

In other news this week, Bronson volunteered to shuttle students from universities around the country who came to BYU for a country wide Information Systems convention. At the end of the evening they had excess Cafe Rio (like... we got a TON of pork, rice, chips and salsa). We are talking a TON. Which served nicely as our Easter Dinner with Jessica and Allison #nocooking!

Friday night we attended the BYU softball game -- we have had such beautiful weather it seemed like a sin not to go out and enjoy the game. Saturday Bronson played the game, "lets see how long I can do homework," and did so until about 6pm. I practiced the piano at the church for 2 hours in anticipation for Ward Choir the next day. And took on and off naps from a killer migrane all day. I woke up feeling sick but thought it would pass, but just got worse as the day goes on. One thing I'm learning is despite how you feel, you still have a husband that needs to eat, so I made homemade pizza. Which is kinda nice to have a staple every Saturday night of pizza. 

This Easter sunday was nice. I was so bummed I wasn't feeling well, I feel like it took the "Easter Spirit" out of me. I reflected back on my first Easter on my mission -- it was in a Spanish Branch in Idaho Falls and for the lesson they played the Lamb of God in Spanish. I didn't understand any of the words, but I felt so personally and individually love from my Heavenly Father and my gratitude and testimony of Jesus Christ's Atonement changed. Even though I've been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all my life and learned Sunday after Sunday about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, it wasn't until my mission that I had these soul moving moments where I felt so deeply the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I was desperate for everyone to hear about the gospel because of the way I felt - and I wanted people to feel what I felt. 

Tonight we watched the Prince of Peace and I am Mormon videos for an hour -- I love those videos. 

GAH No pictures. WHAT HAPPENED? Oh, yeah, its called getting sick. AGAIN. Every month since Christmas. Just like clockwork. 

Best Homemade Granola Recipe

Geez, I know you probably think all I do is eat and make food. And while that is mostly true -- some of these recipes just HAVE to be shared.

Especially this one. I gave up on granola pretty quickly years ago -- after a few bites of store bought granola, I was never impressed. So when my friend who --lets just say is a granola (the 2017 word for: eco-friendly, earth lover, who wants to be in nature 24/7, has a million stickers on their water bottle, and in their free time rock climbs), well she had me taste test her granola -- and I was like, "Listen, quit your job right now and make this full-time, this stuff is good."

After making it a few nights ago, I've added it in and on everything -- smoothies, toast, eating by the handfuls, and ice cream.

This makes quite a big batch (one FULL cookie sheet).

Melt over the stove:
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Honey
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
1 tsp vanilla

Mix in bowl:
4 Cups Oats
1 Cup Chopped Pecans or walnuts
1/4-1/2 Cup shredded coconut
1/2 Cup slivered almonds
3 TBS Chia seeds
1-2 tsp cinnamon

Once the ingredients over the stove are melted pour over the mixed dry ingredients. Mix well and spread on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If you don't have parchment paper, rub some coconut oil down on the sheet.

Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring at 15 minutes.

Once cooled, add mini or regular chocolate chips.

Classic Buttermilk Waffles

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The longer Bronson and I have been married I start really stressing about traditions. Which is silly, because traditions should make you less stressed because you have this set event/food/thing you do every year. I haven't lost my mind over this (yet), but I want some sort of food staple for General Conference weekend. Every year I'll make something different -- I feel like I need to try everything and all variations of it, but after this year, I would be comfortable making this breakfast over and over again.

Waffles can be pretty heavy -- which is why I have avoided eating them, even though I would take a waffle any day over a pancake. But these waffles had a lightness about them -- so I  didn't feel like I regretted eating them.

The recipe for Classic Buttermilk Waffles comes from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. One modification I made was leaving out the melted butter (now, it was on accident), but it was still delicious! And I never complain if that means less calories.

INGREDIENTS : Makes 6 round waffles
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups (For 1 cup buttermilk: 1 Cup Milk + 1 TBSP lemon juice, let sit for 5 mins)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. In a liquid measuring cup or bowl, beat together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. In another bowl whisk together the dry ingredients; combine the wet and dry ingredients just until smooth.
  2. For a circular waffle maker that flips, use 3/4-1 Cup batter (adjust according to waffle iron size). Cook for about 3 minutes, until the iron stops steaming. 

Pad Thai : Make it work version

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


During my Senior year of High School, a good portion of my savings went to buying Pad Thai at a small restaurant downtown where I grew up. There was this sweet Thai man that hardly spoke any English, but recognized my friends and I as such loyal, frequent, and probably annoying high school customers, and so he only charged us $5 for heaps of Pad Thai. Bless that man. 

On Saturday evening I was craving Pad Thai (non-pregnancy cravings are a REAL thing). I flipped through at least 20 recipes and all required an excessive amount of ingredients I didn't have. 

Winging recipes is NOT my strong suit -- and makes me nearly break out in hives (not really, but probably close to that), however, it was the price I had to pay for some Pad Thai goodness. 

I pulled out my spiralizer and spiralized EVERYTHING, but it would be easily done chopping as well, its just I'm lazy. Now this isn't authentic in anyway, but it was cheap, used ingredients I had, and I thought it was yummy so, hmmph, good enough for me. 

Pad Thai:
  • Fettucini alfredo noodles (use rice noodles if you want to be fancy and authentic)
  • 2-3 Carrots
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • Broccoli

Peanut Sauce: (from Minimalist Baker)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I use all natural crunchy)
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. chili garlic paste
  • 3-4 Tbsp. brown sugar, depending on preference of sweetness
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/3- 1/2 cup hot water

optional: top with slivered almonds or peanuts or bean sprouts (if I had them I totally would add them!)

1. Cook fettuchini noodles according to package. During the last 3 minutes of the pasta cooking, throw in the broccoli to cook. Drain with pasta. 
2. Saute red bell pepper and carrots (grate, cut thinly, or mandolin them if you don't have a spiralizer) medium heat (no oil necessary), until tender
3. Add all peanut sauce ingredients (except the water!) to blender or food processor. Slowly adding in the hot water until reach desired consistency.  

sweet & sour meatballs (Easy)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

When I ask Bronson what he wants for dinner he never responds with a specific meal but rather a general request "anything but pasta". Dang it. I love pasta so much and its E-A-S-Y.

I had pasta EVERY SINGLE DAY during my church mission in Argentina for a year and a half. When I got home, I asked for anything but that. I then went to college -- realized I didn't cook a lick. Don't believe me? Ask my sister Julia. Before Bronson and I started officially dating, I invited him over for dinner before we went to a soccer game that night. I offered because he worked later in the evening than me. The ONLY meal I could remotely make was Hawaiian haystacks. I called Julia about 7 times during the course of this meal, "Wait, what was the rice to water ratio again?" "Wait, how did you say you should cook chicken again?" I am mean we are taking about the basics people and I was clueless. I'll blame it on the fact I was fed (no cooking for me!) for 18 months in Argentina.

Right, back to pasta. So since I had a hiatus of not making myself much for dinner while in college, when we got married it meant business in the kitchen. Now, I love pasta again. And if we go to any restaurant where there's pasta, I get it.

When Bronson requested a sans-pasta meal, I remembered we had some meatballs and a 25LB bag of rice we need to use up. I am NOT moving with that thing. And somehow Sweet & Sour meatballs came to mind.

I am not this pro-guru-who's on top of her game and makes homemade meatballs. Pass over the frozen ones. This meal was SO easy and quick -- we made it two nights in a row. Mostly, because I can stick the rice in the rice cooker and it babysits itself and I can play closer attention to The Office that I'll be watching while cooking.

Sweet & Sour Recipe comes from Mels Kitchen Cafe.
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup brown sugar (depending on how sweet you want the sauce)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce (my favorite homemade version here)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Hot, cooked rice for serving

In the rice cooker, I put ALL my vegetables in the steamer above the rice. 2 in 1. Thats my kind of cooking!

*Not sure why it took me over 1 year to figure this out, but when I put the food away after dinner, I dish it up for lunch the next day so the next morning (when I'm not on top of my game #again and always running late), I can just pull out our individual containers. DUH. Face palm. 

Perfect Chcocolate chip cookie

Monday, April 10, 2017

When I got my Bosch at my bridal shower a few years ago it was at that moment -- I start crying -- and realized I was actually getting married. You know, I guess the diamond ring and fiancee wasn't quite enough.
Growing up my sisters and I made 4 dozen cookies EVERY Sunday. We got homemade chocolate chip cookies in our lunches growing up and it was a (very good) duty we had to make them each Sunday.

Well ever since I got the Bosch I was itching to open it up, and Bronson and I (well, actually, just I) made cookies the first Sunday in our new apartment. I use a different chocolate chip cookie recipe every time I make cookies. I am a chocolate chip cookie nazi. It's really important to me to find THEE recipe I can use consistently, you know, one to fall back on when you need to whip up some cookies.

I've had to try so many different recipes because my cookies turn out differently than in Oregon -- butter, altitude, flour, probably are all factors. If you were to look at computer on any given day, I usually have a Chrome browser with dedicated to chocolate chip cookie recipes with probably 10 different tabs of different recipes. I finally got around to trying the William Sonoma Perfect Chocolate chip cookie recipe and as of now, April 2017 it is my absolute favorite.

The first time I made them, Bronson and I ate almost 10 cookies collectively they were so good. They don't make a ton, but, they are ONLY good warm or the very next day and then I don't care for them anymore. I know this because I doubled the batch, made some and chilled the dough and did NOT care for those as much.

Although Bronson won't agree with me on this, there is a big difference when you use butter and margarine. You HAVE to use butter in this recipe. Just trust me on this. Cookies with margarine go flat and don't have the same texture or taste.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/4 cups (6 1/2 oz./200 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 oz./125 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz./105 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
6 Tbs. (3 oz./90 g) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (15 oz./470 g) semisweet chocolate chips
*optional: coarse salt on top (buy in bulk section from Winco for 66 cents a pound...but who needs a pound, a handful or so is all!)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes or longer. Add the egg and vanilla and mix on low speed until blended. When I can see my dough has changed in color, I know I've blended it enough. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir in the chocolate chips.

Using a small ice cream scoop or heaping tablespoon, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the dough mounds 2 inches (5 cm) apart.

Bake the cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until the bottoms and edges are lightly browned and the tops feel firm when lightly touched, 10-13 minutes (I found 11 minutes is perfect for my oven). Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 15 cookies.

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