March Photo Dump

Row 1: Finally got a handful of dirt...I've been trying for weeks | Mommy & Brantley | Handsome smile | Bath time is my favorite!
Row 2: Some new baby foods - peaches, blueberries, and asparagus | Headed back to school after a cold and snowy Spring Break | Late night trip to Buy Buy Baby | End of quarter = lots of tests to grade
Row 3: Some favorite students this year | Lunch at Firehouse | Kinnick likes motorcycles, too | Cheering on the Jags at the state touney in Topeka
Row 4: Boulevard's new Coffee Ale | The light aisle at Lowe's | Swinging on Easter | Matchy matchy math teachers

Row 1: Soccer game time | Busted out the sandals #finally | Watching the snow fall | Chubby baby feet
Row 2: Copycat Pasta da Vinci | Naptime for Daddy - Scout as a pillow & burp cloth on his head | Ahhh-mazing! | Chicken sausasge, tomato, basil pizza
Row 3: Handsome man | I broke my toe #hurtlikehell | Ornery boy | Meeting the Easter Bunny!
Row 4: Just me and a glass of wine for the Bachelor finale! | Playing with his oldest cousin, Delanie | March 24...enough said | Mama & sleepy boy

Breakfast Pizza

I decided about a month ago, I wanted to attempt a breakfast pizza.  I love pizza.  Ditto to breakfast.  So why not combine the two?  I scoured Pinterest for recipes and decided on a biscuit and gravy style breakfast pizza.  It turned out pretty well (a little soggy in the middle, but that was my only complaint)!  Definitely helped the fact that we woke up to seven inches of snow on Sunday.



After a few requests, here is the recipe!

Biscuit & Gravy Breakfast Pizza

2 packages crescent rolls
1 pound breakfast sausage
1 envelope country gravy mix
6 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon butter
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
4 oz shredded pepper Jack cheese

1. Brown and drain sausage.

2. Heat oven to 375. Separate crescent dough into 16 triangles and place on a greased, round pizza pan with points toward the center. Press onto the bottom; seal seams. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown.

3. Meanwhile, prepare gravy according to package directions in a medium saucepan. Stir sausage crumbles into thickened gravy; set aside.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Add egg mixture; cook and scramble until almost set.

5. Spread sausage gravy mixture over the crust. Top with eggs and cheeses.  Bake 5-10 more minutes or until eggs are set and cheese is melted. 

6. Cut into slices and enjoy!

Side note: Makes a pretty large pizza!  Probably enough to feed 4-6 people!!

This Spring Break...

It's not like I'm looking forward to going back to school tomorrow, but I'm okay with it - for once.  It begins a new quarter (the 4th and final) and at this point, I'm just ready to finish out the year!  Believe it or not, this break seemed to not fly by in the blink of an eye!  That really warm, near 80-degree Friday seems like forever ago!

This Spring Break...I did lots of things!  Here's how I spent my SB2013!

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This Spring Break...I watched the snow fall.  And fall some more.  Snow on Thursday.  Snow on Saturday.  And seven more inches overnight Saturday into Sunday.




This Spring Break...I played with my sweet baby Brantley.  He became quite the mama's boy over spring break.  Makes me even more excited for summer!  9 weeks and counting...


This Spring Break...I participated in not one, but two, NCAA March Madness drafts!  I've got $30 on the line to win either $40 or $80!  But it's not looking too great in either draft...


This Spring Break...I broke my toe.  I'm pretty certain of it anyway.  I'm so clumsy and somehow hit it on our ottoman.  I still can't bend it and cringe anytime someone gets close to stepping on it.  It's black and blue and has a bone popping out not like the same toe on the other foot.  I'd post a picture, but don't want to gross you out.  In fact, I avoid looking at it as much as possible.  (Second toe to break in about 5 years by the way...)


This Spring Break...I researched a summer vacay to FL!  It's been in the back of my mind for a few months, but the snow convinced me that it's time to book something!  Gulf coast.  End of July.  Can't wait.

This Spring Break...I took a photography class and practiced my skills.  I already blogged about it here.  I also tried to take some Easter-themed photos of Brantley, but he wasn't having it.




This Spring Break...I tried Boulevard's new Coffee Ale.  Yes, it was that exciting.  My friend Erica was lucky enough to find {and buy} a bottle...but only after being questioned big time by the store clerks.  So, I better blog about it and make it worth it!



This Spring Break...I went to lunch with friends.  Twisted on Wednesday with Katie and Lauren.  Urban Table on Friday with work friends!

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This Spring Break...I blogged and blogged some more.  I love blogging.  I love documenting our life.  Not working lends itself to lots of blog posts!  You are welcome. :)

(I have no picture to signify blogging.)

This Spring Break...I took B-Man to meet the Easter Bunny!  He actually loved the bunny with big ears...starred at him for awhile and then cracked the biggest smile!  So, so cute.



This Spring Break...I finished the basement remodel.  Well, I didn't do that...the hubs did.  But it was completed over SB, nonetheless!  I blogged about it here.

This Spring Break...I spent four straight days with the hubs.  We may not have gone anywhere warm and sunny, but he took two days off of work to hang out with us watch basketball.  Haha I'm not kidding.  But he hung out with us, too, and I'm gonna guess it was better than his time spent watching basketball.  Right, honey??

This Spring Break...I wished for warmer weather, hoped for some sunshine, and dreamed of being outside.  None of that happened, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time off regardless!

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P.S. It's been 10 years since my Spring Break vacay in Cancun.  10 freakin' years!!!  Sarah and Casey, can you believe that?!  How about some pictures for old time's sake?

Look how tan we were!!

St. Patty's Day booze cruise, if I remember correctly!

So pretty

Loved the swim up bar(s)!!

We did NOT build this...but did pose by it!

Look at how much fun we were having!

Heading back home
P.P.S. - My, how times have changed.  This was before the days of Facebook, blogs, teaching majors (for Sarah and me), husbands, and of course, kids!  What a fun time it was, but I wouldn't change a thing about where we ended up today!


Good 'Ole Fairfield

I don't think I've ever really talked about my hometown on here.  It's an interesting little hometown to say the least.  One that even Oprah has visited!  (Among other celebs, as rumor has it.)

I'm from Fairfield, Iowa.  A town in southeast Iowa with a population around 10,000.   It's about an hour from the Illinois border, 45 minutes from Missouri, and an hour south of Iowa City.  Born and raised there, Fairfield is where I spent the first 18 1/2 years of my life.  I graduated from Fairfield High School - the only public high school in town - in 2001 with about 130 classmates; though my class was one of the smaller classes compared to those around us.


In many aspects, Fairfield is like many other small Iowan towns.  There is a town square, local traditions, and Friday night football games.  Local shopping includes Wal-Mart and Hy-Vee...and that's pretty much it!  You can drive from one end of Fairfield to the next in ten minutes.  Or less.

The gazebo in the middle of the town square

For the small town that Fairfield is, it has a great Christmas light display
Friday night lights

There is also one pretty significant difference (and lots of smaller ones) that differentiate Fairfield from every single other small town in Iowa (and in America, for that matter).  Fairfield is home to the Maharishi University of Management, a college founded by India native Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, that promotes the practice of transcendental meditation, among other beliefs.  The college attracts many international students, so believe it or not, Fairfield was a small, yet very diverse, town to grow up in!

Not only is there a college, but also a K-12 private school.  And a grocery store.  And multiple Maharishi-based businesses.  And two domes in which the followers meditate.  Two times per day. 

One of the two "Golden Domes"



Some say this idea is a religion.  It's not.  Others refer to it as a cult.  The people swear this isn't true either.  Instead, it's a way of life.  They believe in all things natural, buy only organic food (hence their own grocery store), build their homes to face the East (this lets in only positive vibes), and have a very specific style of architecture (with a steeple-type thing, again to let in the positive vibes).  They believe in holistic medicine and have their own health spa called The Raj (this is supposedly where lots of celebs have visited...Drew Barrymore, Russell Brand, The Beach Boys, to name a few...).    They even branched out a few years ago and founded their own town - Maharishi Vedic City - a sort of suburb to Fairfield.  Maharishi Vedic City is home to hundreds of Pandits - 800+ Indian men who spend eight hours each day meditating, chanting and studying in hopes of bringing peace and harmony to the world.  A little strange?  I think so.

The architecture


So why Fairfield??  In the 70s, a very popular Fairfield-based college (Parson's College) went bankrupt and closed.  The empty college campus and fact that Fairfield was centrally located (within the United States) attracted the Maharishi.  They bought it and MUM was born.

Growing up, there was a very distinct separation between the Maharishi or "roos" (short for guru) and the Fairfield natives or "townies".  I think the older generations felt like "the roos" invaded their beloved hometown.  Not to mention, they think many of their beliefs are off-the-wall crazy.  (They claim they can fly, for instance, while meditating.  I would agree that this claim is bananas.)  I think there's more of an acceptance in the younger generation, though I still wouldn't say all is peaches and cream.

Growing up there, it was all very normal to me.  (Well, as normal as it could be.)  That's all I ever knew.  When I went to college, I realized that Fairfield is very fascinating to non-residents.  Friends, co-workers, even college TAs and professors would question me about the small town and the Maharishi!!  When I told fellow southeastern Iowans I was from Fairfield, I'd always get the same response, "Oooooooohhhhh......can you fly?" :)

Oprah visited a couple of years ago and named Fairfield America's most unusual town.  True dat.

Oprah visited in the fall of 2011.  The Oprah's Next Chapter featuring her visit aired last spring.


Here she is discussing good 'ole Fairf and the idea of transcendental meditation with Dr. Oz!


So why did I decide to do a blog post of my little old hometown of Fairfield, Iowa?  Well, Smithsonian Magazine named Fairfield the 7th best small town to visit in 2013!  (Check it out here.)  Wow.  Wow.  WOW!  Who would've ever thought?!  My hometown?  To me, it's just a town.  In southeast Iowa.  Where I grew up.  With special memories, but beyond that, it's nothing special to me. 

Nonetheless...there's no doubt about it that my hometown is truly one of a kind.


Sweet Baby Giggles

Brantley is a serious baby.  He's all smiles at home, but rarely cracks a smile when we're around large groups of people.  Instead, he studies everything.  It's almost like I see the gears turning and those gears are trying to figure out how things in this world work.  It's an even rarer occasion to hear the kid giggle.  So, last night, when we heard these sweet baby giggles, I knew I had to get them on video.  Probably the longest time span of giggles to date.  And the sweetest sounds ever to this mama's ears.



Of course, the same thing this morning was "smile funny", but not "giggle funny".  Another one of Brantley's traits.  Things are only laughable the first time.  Afterwards, he's over it.

 

Daddy & Brantley

In honor of March Madness and KU's upcoming first round game, here are some sweet pictures of Daddy and Brantley reading none other than a Jayhawk book!  So what if I made them pose for the pictures... :)








 

Tomato, Basil, Motz & Chicken Sausage Pizza

This is what we had for dinner last night.  It was inspired by Pinterest, but I didn't follow the directions exactly.  Oh my goodness, it was amazing!  So good that I kind of want the leftover two pieces for breakfast.  

Here's what you'll need.

Pizza crust (We always make our own using our breadmaker*)
Olive oil
2 to 3 tomatoes (I used 3: 2/3 for sauce, 1/3 for topping)
1 tsp (?) dried oregano (I didn't measure...just sprinkled some in)
Crushed red pepper flakes (We like things spicy so I used quite a bit)
2 to 4 chicken sausage links - cooked & sliced
2+ oz fresh basil
8 oz fresh mozzarella - sliced

1.  Preheat oven & make crust.  Brush crust with olive oil and pre-bake before adding the toppings.  (This is to avoid sogginess.  I hate soggy things.  Unless it's a French Dip.)  I baked mine at 450 degrees for about 8 minutes.  You don't want the crust to be completely done because you're going to put it back in the oven later.  (If you use store-bought crust, follow the package instructions only don't bake quite as long.)

2.  Brown chicken sausage links in skillet.  Mine were pre-cooked, so I browned for about 5 minutes.  Then slice.

3.  Meanwhile, make pizza sauce.  Crush tomatoes (I crushed 2, saved third for topping), half of the fresh basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes.  Easy peasy if you have a food chopper.  Throw it all in and push the button.  (Side note: I high recommend buying a chopper.  Makes chopping things like onions so easy...and fun!)

4.  Once crust is mostly baked, take it out of oven.  Spread on tomato-basil sauce.  Add sliced sausage, remaining {diced} tomato, remaining basil leaves, and sliced mozzarella.  Bake for another 5 to 7 minutes until toppings are warm and cheese is melted.

5.  Enjoy!  I recommend a nice glass of wine to accompany this yummy in your tummy pizza!  :)

*If you have a breadmaker, here's the recipe we use to make our own crust.  I think it came from my parent's neighbors - as do lots of our yummy recipes!

Breadmaker Homemade Pizza Crust
3/4 cup warm water
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 1/4 cups flour**
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dry yeast

Throw everything in your breadmaker (in order) and push the 'dough/pasta' button.  Ours takes 1 1/2 hours to complete.

**Don't use whole wheat flour.  I tried that and it didn't work.  Don't use powdered sugar either.  The hubs did that once twice three times.  Apparently he thought it was flour.  It doesn't work either.  Shocking, I know.

Happy Spring?!?

Did you know today is the first day of spring?  I've been on Spring Break all week, and some Spring Break it's turning out to be!  It started last Friday with temperatures near 80 degrees and now they're in the 30s with a forecast of snow.  Not once, but twice!  (Thursday and Saturday)  This is how I feel about that.

sNOOOOOOOOOw!!!!



I was really hoping for warm, sunny weather so we could spend our week outside.  But apparently Mother Nature had other plans.

It figures.  This is the first time in three years we haven't gone somewhere a bit warmer.  Last year, it was San Diego, the year before, San Francisco.  (Though San Fran was cool and rainy and San Diego was actually colder than KC....last year.)

We did contemplate going somewhere this year.  First, Vegas, but ticket prices were crazy high.  Like $500+ each.  No thanks.  We also looked into going to Arizona for Royals spring training games.  But quite frankly, I got tired of researching airfare and places to stay.  Especially when we were doing so only three weeks in advance.  Now I really wish we would have followed through.  I could use some sun and vitamin D about now.

Oh well...I'm still thankful for the week off to spend with the babe.  Here's to hoping that the warmer weather will be here soon.  It has to be.  Right?

In the meantime, enjoy your first day of spring - sun or snow!

 

Practicing My Photog Skills

Over the weekend, I took a level 2 photography workshop from the same photographer that taught my level 1 class in December.  I don't know what will ever become of my photography hobby, but I do know that I really, really enjoy taking pictures!

The class was outside.  On Saturday morning.  Saturday's high was near 45...and Saturday morning was COLD!!!  The first 25 minutes were fine.  I was focused, excited, and anxious to practice my skills.  After a 25-minute Q&A session with the photographer, I was cold.  So were the other seven girls, so she gave us a 5-minute break to warm up in our cars.  And I was good again.  For about ten minutes.  The rest of the 2-hour workshop was pretty much miserable - cold, cloudy, and windy.  (I should clarify - the weather was miserable!)  But...I was still super excited!  She brought along some models - a husband/wife duo.  I was pumped to have some subjects to photograph that weren't 8-months old and constantly on the move!  The class was in the Westbottoms - this historic warehouse district near downtown KC.  It's such a cool part of the city with some great scenery - a photographer's dream.  (Some of my favorite wedding photos were actually taken in the Westbottoms!)

I'm sure I would have gotten more out of the class if I wasn't freezing my booty off.  Towards the end, it was getting hard to focus and my fingers were pretty much numb.  I had no desire to keep snapping photos.  But despite the cold, I think I got some great shots! 






And while I'm sharing some of my practice photos, how about a few more of B-Man?  I don't think anyone will ever get tired of seeing pics of a cute, squishable baby!  They were taken last Friday afternoon.  When it was near 80 degrees.  Oh, I'd give anything for that again.



I wanted some cute shots of him in his fedora.  But by the time he realized he was wearing a hat, he, of course, wouldn't leave it alone.











And a few more.  Not the best quality photos, but too cute not to share!