Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hello...hello....hello...

Is anyone still there?

I'm going to write like there is actually someone who will be reading this after 3 months without a post. I'm good at pretending, always have been. You should try it. It gets you through a lot of tough moments unscathed.
"No my child is NOT flinging himself all over the grocery store floor, SCREAMING at the top of his lungs for candy. Nope, just not happening!"

Here are our beloved blue bins, ready for another adventure. Can you see how used they've gotten in our year in Costa Rica? They were the BEST thing I brought besides my "familia".


Here we are in our van taxi at 3:30 am getting packed up to head to the airport. Look how wide awake our little Paige is. I love it!


This is quite blurred but worth posting for me. A picture of our little family together before we separated for a month and a half. At this point Wes was getting pretty sad to have us all leave. I, being the all attentive wife, didn't even notice that he was smiling through his tears. I was thinking..."5 kids, one adult, 2 flights...can I do it?"
That's why I love this man. He loves his family.

The sun rose as we were getting ready to board our plane. Our two little tikes were so excited to get on the flight.

Aiden sitting as a "big boy" during our first flight. The kids were great travelers.

We have been busy with getting settled into U.S. life. We've had Paige's birthday (Christmas in June), beach days, pool parties, FREE summer movies, lots of family time and for me, COUPON shopping! I heart coupons.
Wes has arrived and we are a happy family once again. We are holding our life in Costa Rica as a training for the rest of our lives.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Just a Nice Day Today...

I finally convinced the kids to go on a walking tour of our little city here. Up until now, I got the "I don't want to's" for whatever {lame} reason they came up with.
But today...they all agreed. I think the idea that we are REALLY leaving is sinking into their minds.
I took this shot just around the corner from our home as we headed out.
We spent about half an hour with them coordinating the photographers angles and shots. Every once in awhile I give up that power and let them go at it.
Every city in Costa Rica has a church...with a park and ours is no exception. We just hung out...ate some ice cream and watched the birds.

I just snapped this shot of one of the many streets here. I remember when we first arrived...I felt uncomfortable walking down the roads here. The sidewalks are crumbled cement and dangerous. It's a marvel that women here can traverse it in HIGH HEELS. Just amazing.
Now I feel comfort in the old homes and businesses, small sidewalks and interesting sinkholes.

I wouldn't let my kids go home until we found this wall. I LOVE IT! We pass it every Sunday on our way to church. The colors are so vivid and the message is great. I crack up when I see the barbed wire scrolling over the top. That just comes with the territory.

Better get to bed...I leave in 6 hours to pick up mi amigas.

Goodnight!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I woke up this morning...

and realized I have 2 more days to finish up last minute packing before my "girlfriends" arrive. I like to complete work under pressure. Two things I love...change and a challenge! Maybe reasons to why Costa Rica worked for me.

It's interesting though...kind of like the end of a pregnancy where you are so tired of being pregnant that you don't care how the baby is going to come out!! That's where I am here...since I got back from my trip to the states...our hot water heater went out. We went 2 weeks without a hot shower or bath.

Now all our water is out. It's been over 24 hours without water. Oh the fun that entails. Of course in between these loses we've had electricity, Internet and phone outages. It's just time. Time to get this baby out however hard it may be! :D

Thought you'd like some pictures of dinner by candlelight thanks to one of our many power outages.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuscan Summer Chicken...


I made this for the first time last week. Oh my!!! Delish.

Tuscan Summer Chicken
25 min
Makes:
4 servings
What You Need

4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 lb.)
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, cubed
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup pesto
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
1 cup KRAFT Finely Shredded Italian* Five Cheese Blend
Make It

HEAT large nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cover skillet with lid. Cook 5 to 7 min. on each side or until chicken is cooked through (165ºF). Remove chicken from skillet; keep warm.
REDUCE heat to medium. Add cream cheese, water, pesto and tomatoes to skillet. Cook, uncovered, 2 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally.
RETURN chicken to skillet. Cook and stir 1 min. or until chicken is coated and heated through. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.

As you can tell...this recipe is from Kraft. Oh so good. OF COURSE....I did things a little differently. :D

I used low fat cream cheese, I didn't use shredded cheese at all...it's too expensive here and I used shredded chicken...much cheaper than chicken breast. Enjoy!!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Have You Found this Yet?

A new internet LDS radio has been launched. Click here to get it. Also...when you arrive on this site you can download scripture stories for children on your IPOD. Or just listen through itunes. Can I just say that the LDS church is so COOL!!! :D

Enjoy!

Check Out this Great Article...

on Touch at

www.simplekids.net.

The site is a branch of my favorite site www.simplemom.net.

Love it!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

40% off at Borders...


in stores Monday only !

Get your coupon here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

These are Few of my Favorite Things...

"Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes..." Sorry...need to get that out of my head.

Give me another minute...

There...I'm good.

As you know I've put together a package of my favorite things here. Lorena...(who will won the opportunity to be the recipient of these treasures) offered me the chance to put her gifts on the blog before I send the package out.

Since the first batch of pictures came out blurry. Yeah...I'm a professional photographer but this little camera takes some getting used to.

I'm going to take a new set. Also I haven't been worried about getting the package in the mail here. I'm having my girlfriends take it back with them to mail. It will get to her much sooner.

Are you curious to see what she's getting?

Here goes...

Alright...I'm too lazy tonight to retake the pictures...you are going to have to pretend they are clear and beautiful.

Here is my "clear" photo of Dulce de Leche". They use it on everything sweet here. You will find it in chocolate cakes, tres leche, and as a doughnut topping. I love it heated and poured on ice cream. But the main reason I put it in the package is because of the handy, dandy opening. Love it! Twist off and enjoy.
This is dish washing "paste". It is made for cold water since most homes/shacks here don't have hot water. My favorite detail is that since it is a paste...the kids don't go through it as fast as they do the liquid stuff.
Yumm. It's amazing these have survived. They are the best "galleta" {Cookie} They are a butter shortbread cookie and I love to crumble them up and use as a pie crust. Most snacks here are individually packaged...not as a single serving package...but because once they are opened they become soggy with all the water in the air.
Now I know that you can get these in the states...but they are very popular here. I've seen them scattered on top of birthday, cupcakes and handed out as a afternoon snack. The individual colors actually taste different.

A surfboard key chain will make it to Lorena's home because that was our favorite activity here. Even my little guy headed out with the instructor to surf (when he was just 3).
Oh my vanilla. This secret weapon has benefited many a recipe of mine. If you haven't had vanilla from South or Central America...you are really missing out!
This is a little coconut shell purse...with a few colones inside. They are HUGE compared to U.S. coins.
Awww. This is better than dry Ranch dressing. Mix this up with 8 oz of sour cream and yummmy!! The difference is it has more cilantro inside. I heart cilantro.
You have to have a Costa Rica gecko magnet. In Costa Rica you hope a gecko family takes up residence in your home. They eat mosquitoes. Bon appetite!

In Honor of Nik and Emily...

who are to arrive for a GRAND tour of Costa Rica in 1 week from today.

I found this article entitled:

10 terrific reasons to take a Costa Rica vacation

Tired of the humdrum? Need to get away and relax? I have just the place for you. Costa Rica. Here are 10 terrific reasons to take a Costa Rica vacation.

1. You’ll find great airfares and travel bargains to Costa Rica right now. They did that!

2. There are 780 miles of pristine coastline with hundreds of great Costa Rica beaches. Uncrowded beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Definitely going to see some of this.

3. Like nature? Imagine a tiny little country with more species of butterflies than on the entire African continent and almost as many different species of birds as in the entire continent of Europe. Many of you will recall the picture I have of Paige with that orange butterfly on her head.

4. It boasts a park on its Osa Peninsula which National Geographic calls the most biologically intense place on the planet. In fact, tiny Costa Rica has nearly one-fifth of all the species of plants and animals in the world. Imagine that! Did you get that??? That is amazing!

5. Costa Rica has more than 100 volcanoes, including some that still erupt and others where you can literally walk into. There is even one where on a clear day you will be able see the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans at the same time. We won't be seeing these...I've gone 3 times before and NEVER saw the top.

6. Thousands of Americans travel to Costa Rica for cosmetic surgery, dental, or other medical care because the quality of care is world-class but often only about a one-third of the price in the States.

We will include this in our next visit. :D

7. Some folks come to take Spanish lessons in schools that also teach them how to surf! Or yoga. Or sexy latin dancing. Or all of the above. I won't be able to provide any Spanish lessons...but snorkeling is on the list.

8. How about fantastic weather year-round? If you get too warm, drive a few miles into the lush mountains. Swim in warm waters every day of the year. Beautiful weather!!!

9. Like a good fish story? I do. This will not be the story about the one that got away. Bring your camera or video camera. You will have proof! You can fish every day of the year for an unimaginable variety of fish. The Caribbean is filled with huge tarpon. Sailfish and marlin (I hooked a 450 pound, 13 marlin recently) are common. Not to mention whales and sea turtles. I get sea sick...sorry.

10. Costa Rica is just a short flight away”or take a cruise. Hop on a plane or luxury liner, leave your worries behind and prepare to meet some of the nicest folks anywhere. You will make new friends. Lots of them. Let's see...your flight is only 6 hours, right?

And, for being a good sport, I have your first Spanish lesson as a bonus. Remember the words Pura Vida! It means the great life and you will hear and use it every day. Pura Vida (pronounced...poo-da vee-da) Practice that one now. You have to know it to get off the airplane!

See you soon!!


I'm on the 7 day countdown until they arrive (at 5 am mind you). Good thing I love them! :D

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Now the Video...

video

The strange noise you hear is the rain pouring down incredibly hard.

Random photo's and Video...

Did I mention I LOVE having a small camera? Since the beginning of my photography career I've only known the huge photography devices. This little guy is amazing and CHEAP. Love it.

I never thought I could find the perfect place to live as far as weather goes. Well I've discovered it here in Heredia. Gorgeous mornings mixed with blue sky, birds in song and a slight breeze. Then late afternoon thunderstorms and showers.

Just perfect for me.

Yesterday the kids brought up this to me.
Breakfast at the computer. How lovely is that? I think it's better to get this on a random day than even on Mother's Day. I sure wasn't expecting it.
This is Dallin, Paige and Troy in front of our house here. Notice the BARS that decorate and protect every house. The top room window displays amazing views of the city lights. About once a month we get our own firework presentation. This is my sweet girl soaked to the bone after a nice run in the rain.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

More of the Contrasts Here...

Things have been quite exciting here since I returned home to the land of paradise. It seems like I was gone so long that it took about 20 minutes for my youngest to warm up to me.

Ouch!

In case you haven't heard...the munchkins and I (all 5 of them) are headed back to Southern California in a few weeks. Just a 2 month pit stop before we arrive in Colorado.

YAHOOOOOOO!!!

Opps, did that escape my throat??? Sorry...our condo has been out of HOT water since I got back. And did I mention the cable has been out for 4 weeks. We don't watch very much T.V. but I love using it as an incentive. With all the kid's channels in Spanish...I can also chalk it up as a language class, right?

I do have mixed feelings on the subject of leaving of course. I know we will never have this opportunity again. I love what this country has done for us as a family, as an American of the United States and as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint. Boy are we blessed.

When I was back in the states a few weeks ago...I just knew it was time. I sat in a public library and I think I cooed out loud!

No really! I did.

The idea of city sports and public school will send me into a frenzy of giggles.

Hee, hee.

Hee, hee....hee, hee!

See...

I want all that again and I want my kids to have that and it is time. For every time there is a season, right? This season is over...no regrets but looking forward to our next season.

Changing the subject now...
The beginning of this week I watched my little (adorable) nephew while his mom had some important work to do. I got to watch him at her hotel. It was amazingly fantastic!

Here is my sweet girl on the private stairs that lead to our suite.
The pool surrounded by Tarzan vines. You can't tell from the picture but a river runs under the pool.
This is the restaurant of course.
Out our balcony view of the city.
Corridor through the hotel.
Had to throw this cute one in. I love these chairs.
This mini pool was in our room...
in it's own room of course. Nice. I think my sweetie and I need to try out this hotel by ourselves.

In case you were wondering it's new and called The Beacon. (in Escuzu)

Friday, May 15, 2009

How Cool is This???

I just found this on one of my FAV cooking websites, gourmetmomonthego.com

She hallowed out half a watermelon then set her jello inside and poked chocolate chips in the half set jello.  How adorable?  I usually don't mess with food for kids that takes too much time...but with this I would get ALL the watermelon and they could have ALL the jello.

SWEET!

Speaking of sweet...it's been raining this afternoon with deliberate crackles and pops of thunder, LOVE IT!
So I had to bake something.  I made cinnamon rolls, actually sticky buns.  You know where you don't frost them but let them simmer in a caramel sauce and the flip them over so the sauce seeps into every nook and cranny and slides down the sides.  

Yeah...I made those.

This time I used maple syrup, butter, sweetened condensed milk, Karo syrup and....hazelnut coffee creamer.

Can you say "Zouzers?"

My best yet...great way to end the day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Little About my Adventures...

So Women's Conference was just what I needed. What a way to start the day off having 13,000 women in a HUGE conference center singing a hymn about our love for the Savior. I always get choked up during the songs.

One of my favorite moments was as President Beck was delivering a nice message...she suddenly stopped...got choked up...and said:

"FIGHT!"

"We need to stop playing the victim role as women and FIGHT! Fight for our homes, our families, our children and our standards!" (I'm going off memory here)

It was just an inspiring moment for me!

I'll talk more about other talks I loved, Sunday.

Friday night I had the pleasure of having a girls night with some special friends of mine from our short life (1.5 years) in Utah over 10 years ago. What a wonderful night that was for me. It's amazing that even though I hadn't seen 2 of the 3 women in 10 years...we just took off where we left off. Actually I think we took off further than we left off. What jewels these women are to me.

Then I headed to my Uncle Ron's place. There is this white board that has welcomed visitors for years. I was excited to find this note waiting for me. Isn't it just grand when traditions stand strong?

My uncle is the chef of the family. I sure wasn't missing my In-N-Out while at his home. We had Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, salad with dried cranberries and the most interesting soda I have ever had.
Thanks Ron! (wink, wink)
My aunt Sheila drove from Colorado to hang out with us. She is my mother's sister and I just LOVE her!
She taxied me around Saturday to get all my errands done. Whew! We both have this talent of asking someone a question that would completely put them on the spot, but in the nicest way.

So you can imagine how it is when we both get together. Love it!
I didn't find In-N-Out but I did find this. Old School Burgers. I might even say it's better. The bun was larger and softer but the taste, although close, wasn't exactly the same.
BUT...the french fries were 50 times better. Oh yeah baby.

I ate pretty healthy on this trip but I will admit here and now that after devouring this meal for dinner Monday night...I went back for seconds Tuesday at lunch. It was so worth it!!
I had to throw this shot in. Since Wes's plane didn't get in the night before I had to leave...I didn't see him and most importantly (just teasing) I didn't get to grab his nice rolling luggage. Instead...

I made this. Pretty creative. If I really had time I would have taped a skateboard to the bottom. That would have been useful!!!
That little white dot is the moon. Couldn't pass up this shot from my airplane window.
These shoes hit the trashcan yesterday. They have served me well. They have traversed this country with me though dangerous sidewalks, muddy streets, $4.00 movies and crazy taxi rides. They recently came to their demise as two rather cavernous holes broke through the bottoms as I walked miles (and miles, and miles) did I mention miles? on this Utah/Colorado adventure. I had to take a farewell picture.
I was so lucky to head up to Colorado to my amiga Emily's home. Her and her husband Rob were great hosts. Their kids were just AWESOME! Poor Jake...I made him stand outside for a picture before he headed off to school on my last day. All their kids are just amazing.
Do you remember when I posted about my night (BY MYSELF) in my hotel room!
I had to take a picture to memorialize that experience. Look how rested I look.
NICE!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

J.P.'s Big Daddy Biscuits


J.P.'s Big Daddy Biscuits
Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 cup milk
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually stir in milk until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.
3. Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead 15 to 20 times. Pat or roll dough out to 1 inch thick. Cut biscuits with a large cutter or juice glass dipped in flour. Repeat until all dough is used. Brush off the excess flour, and place biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet.
4. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges begin to brown.


This recipe is wonderful, but do you want to know what makes them go from 4 star to 5 star? Two things. First, after you make the dough and cut your biscuits set them on a sheet of aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray and let them sit in the fridge for 30 minutes. This lets the baking powder react and creates the "HUGE" biscuit effect.
Also, add more butter or even better add more butter flavored Crisco. WOW!

You can't go wrong with these. In all honesty, I usually add these to a meal last minute when I know I just need something else added to dinner. But when I do decide ahead of time and put them in the fridge...watch out...your kids will fight over them.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

And the Winner Is...

!!!!!Lorena!!!!!

Congratulations Lorena.

Thank you everyone for playing along. I LOVED checking the comments you left. What a fun week for me!

I wish, of course that I could send everyone a package. This blog has been the best thing for me while we adventured here in Costa Rica. I have felt I was still in the loop with family and friends. When events happened here...I was better able to handle them thinking "This will make an interesting post!"

Let's have fun with this...

Lorena would you like me to take a picture of each item and tell you what you are getting? Or do you want to be my special guest speaker on my blog when you get that package? Your choice. I'm warning you it will take WEEKS for it to arrive.

Nothing I can do about that...sorry.

Thanks again everyone!

Tomorrow... I will post about our "exodus" plans. Yes, we have decided to leave this paradise.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

On The Road Again...

It's 10 am...I leave to head home in an hour. This has been quite an eventful trip. I had a wonderful time with my uncle and aunt in Utah, Women's Conference was divine, hanging with my friend Emily and her family was a TREASURE and the pleasure of brushing only my set of teeth every day has been refreshing.

However...I now miss my crazy life and am ready to head home.

I can't wait to sit with my kids and draw a winner in our contest. I have TONS of fun stuff to send.

Yippe!


I shall be home and snuggling my kids in 11 hours. I'm ready for the countdown.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Mile High City...

I'm here in Denver...patiently awaiting a visit with my girlfriend (from high school) Emily. I'm looking at homes today...if things go well....we might settle down here in this beautiful land.

We will see.

I had a fantastic night, all by myself, alone in a hotel. LOVE IT! Sleeping in, staying up late, T.V. in English, comfortable bed and reading until late in the night! Can we say AWESOME mommy RECHARGING time?

Things are going well considering Bank of America's mess up! Telling me I could get to my money here! It's just added to my adventure here, which has truly been a clone of the Amazing Race!

Most of me LOVES it! Yesterday I was done racing around trying to figure things out. I just needed a quiet night at a hotel.

Now I'm ready to go again! Can't wait to meet Emily's family!!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Much Better Today...

I have traveled from Salt Lake City to Provo with a shuttle, bus, train and then bus again. I ROCK!

I have to say it's much easier figuring that out in a country that speaks English than a country that speaks Spanish.

Kudos to my cousin Joanna who did just that for 3 months in Costa Rica.

So I am in Provo at the Provo library. Just STUNNING!

I'm trying to figure out a way to have my husband transfer money to me. Quite the challenge when my bank (Bank of America) tells me I can enter any "branch" in Utah and get a new debit card AND THERE ISN'T A BRANCH IN UTAH!!!

Lovely! So 2 phone cards later and 1 hour of searching for a payphone that works...I'm here hanging out on the library computer. NICE.

So hopefully I'll be off soon with money in my pockets to traverse this great city.

See ya soon!!

I Have NOT Forgotten....

we have a contest. One of my sons...who will remain NAMELESS for now...messed with my password settings in my computer and now I can't get on my computer at all!

What does that effect you ask?

My cooking
Calling anyone out of the country
My flight to the states
Contact information from my friends I'm meeting up with here
My home finding plans

MY BLOG!

So here I am at 1 am my time {after 18 hours spent at airports on 3 different flights} posting a post to let you know that tomorrow when I can think I will get online and make more sense.

I hope!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Interview with Dallin...


Me: Dallin, on a scale of 1-10, how much do you like Costa Rica?

Dallin: Probably a 9.

Me: What adventure was most fun for you?

Dallin: Zip Lining. No, no, no, no...the flood!

Me: What is your least favorite thing about Costa Rica?

Dallin: They don't sell DS chargers here.

Me: If you could change 1 thing about Costa Rica what would it be?

Dallin: That there would be a Best Buy store here.

Me: If you could change 1 thing about the states what would it be?

Dalliin: That they would have Platanos. (chips made from plantains)

Me: What is your favorite food here?

Dallin: Plantanos and gallo pinto (rice and black bean dish served with sour cream)

Me: What adventure do you wish you'd have done here?

Dallin: I wish I had taken surfing lessons for more than just 2 months.

Me: How would you finish this sentence..."Dear Costa Rica,
Thank you for...

Dallin: all the paradise and at least TRYING to fix the roads.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Our Arrival..

I didn't realize how miserable we all looked when we first arrived.
From start to finish it took about 20 hours of travel time to get to our new headquarters.

Paige was STARVING and the last 30 minutes of our trip she spent making sure we all knew it! Of course she didn't want any food I had packed.
It's interesting that everyone looks so tired and sad... I remember feelings of utter bliss to have survived the 3 am layover in Miami with a 3 and 2 year old.