28 February 2012

I Clicked It Up a Notch/ Sweet Shot Tuesday

One of my favorite shots from this month is of Casper jumping around in the rain puddles last week. I love his rain boots (and so does he)! Even on a dreary, gray day they really brighten things up! And, yes, those are pajama pants he is wearing.

Click It Up A Notch
Sweet Shot Day

27 February 2012


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26 February 2012

Recipe: Cajun Chicken Pasta

This is a Pioneer Woman recipe, and it is so delicious. We have made several of her recipes in the past, and they are always delicious- comfort food at its finest. She has a macaroni and cheese recipe that has green chiles in it that is so yummy.

I am sitting here eating the leftovers, and it is just as good as last night. This recipe is Chris-approved, too- "Really good!"

I made the recipe as written except to add a bit of grated parmesan to the sauce. I think I will probably use fire-roasted tomatoes from a can instead of fresh tomatoes next time I make it.

You can find the original recipe here: Cajun Chicken Pasta

Cajun Chicken Pasta


3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Cubes
3 teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix, More To Taste
1 pound Fettuccine
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
1/2 whole Large Red Onion, Sliced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
4 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1/2 cup White Wine
1 cup Heavy Cream
Cayenne Pepper To Taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
Salt To Taste
Chopped Fresh Parsley, To Taste

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente; do not overcook!

Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken pieces. Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate.

Repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken, leaving pan on high heat.

Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan.

With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be spicy!

Finally, add chicken and vegetables to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine.

Top with chopped fresh parsley and chow down!

24 February 2012

8/52: Cabin Fever

We have had such great weather this winter that it's hard to say any of us have cabin fever, but if we did, this is what we would do: play board games.

Growing up, the adults were always playing cars, spoons, or dominoes. They would be laughing and it seemed like they were having so much fun. The kids were always playing board games, too, like Monopoly or Life.  

Chris and I have always loved having game nights with our friends, too. We used to play boys vs. girls Trivial Pursuit when we were all in the military. Of course, the girls ALWAYS won (thanks to Anna!).  Catchphrase is another favorite- so hilarious, especially when everyone is a little tipsy. That game reminds me of so many awesome nights spent with our closet friends (New Year's Eve and after our wedding reception ring a bell for anyone?). We also played Apples to Apples a lot, too. That can be so funny when you are playing with witty and sarcastic people. And some our favorite memories are of the game nights playing Risk and Settlers of Catan with Gil and Mer. Casper was born the same time as their son, so we navigated the stress and excitement of being new parents with them while playing these games with our baby boys napping nearby.  

Hopefully, our boys will grow up enjoying game nights, too. I recently bought Shutes and Ladders and Candyland for Casper, but he is still a little too young to get it. Anyone have suggestions for other games he might enoy?

As always, check out the other Project 52 participants over at My 3 Boybarians.

project 52 p52 weekly photo challenge

21 February 2012

Walk Through the Woods

We wanted to go out to Mount Vernon yesterday it was free for President's Day) and I guess everyone in the DC metro area got the same idea because we sat in traffic for 30 minutes to go the last mile to the parking lot, and then all of the parking lots were full. So, we decided just to go home. When we left we saw a little park about a mile away from the estate, and pulled in, thinking we would just let Casper run around there for a little while. A bunch of people were parking there and walking to Mount Vernon, though, and we thought we would do that, too. We didn't have a stroller with us (Casper doesn't really use them normally), so he rode on Chriss' shoulders and walked some. Anyway, we made it about half a mile and then Casper started getting whiny, so we called it a day. We did have a nice walk, though. And Casper looked so adorable.

Linking up with Mummy's Busy World for Trendy Toddler Tuesday and My 3 Boybarians for Sweet Shot Tuesday.

Sweet Shot Day
Blue Steel

On our walk there was little beautiful view down onto the Potomac River. I edited the shot in several ways, which one do you like best?

Edited with CoffeeShop Lomo Action

Edited with MCP Mini Fusion Action
Edited with CoffeeShop Irish Breakfast Tea Action. I think this is my favorite.

Edited with Coffeeshop Orton Action

17 February 2012

7/52: True Love

These are my mother's maternal grandparents, John and Mary Lou Bagwell. They lived on a farm in Melrose, New Mexico. He had cows, horses and some crops on the farm and she was a banker (one of the very few female bankers at that time, I would imagine). They were married around 1931 or so.  

These are my mother's paternal grandparents, Jim and Maude Ragsdale. She is holding an old picture of a guy who'd been out fishing so long he turned into a skeleton. It used to hang on a wall in their house (according to my Uncle David). There was a great conversation about this picture when Uncle David posted it on Facebook, it was great to hear some things about them that I didn't know before. This picture was taken at their home in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. They were married in the late 1920's.   

  These are my mother's parents. I don't have a wedding picture of them or even a picture of them when they were first married (don't worry, I am going to track some down). I always have such a great time with them. This picture was taken at my dad's parents house in Alamogordo, New Mexico in November 2009 (it was during our first trip back home after Casper was born, he was 6 months old).

These are my father's maternal grandparents, Ralph and Hattie Vaden. This photo was taken in Fort Klamath, Oregon in the late 1940's. They were married in the early 1930's, I think.

 These are my father's paternal grandparents, Floyd and Octie Page. On the back of this picture is written: 1933, Bellflower, CA, just before they married. He was in the Navy, and was from El Paso, Texas. She was from St. Louis and was in California as a nanny when she met Grandpa Floyd. They eventually moved to Hurley, New Mexico and I have such great memories of holidays, birthdays, and just time spent at their house there.  

These are my dad's parents, Ray and Anita. I love their wedding picture, they look so glamorous! Their brothers set them up on a blind date and it was a disaster (I'll have to find out the rest of this story sometime). They met again a year later for about an hour and his mother told him to marry her. They corresponded for a long time (maybe a year) and then he came back to school in Oregon and stayed several days with her family at Bonanza. They were married in 1958 in Merrill, Oregon.

 These are my parents, Charlotte and Billy. Can you tell when they got married? It was 1979. They met on a blind date set up by their mothers. I guess blind dates are pretty successful in this family! They look so young and cute!

This is me and my true love. We got married in Hawaii (we were living there at the time) in 2008 after 7 years of dating. We met when we were both stationed in Hawaii (he was in the Marine Corps, I was in the Navy). And a shout-out to our wedding photographer, Barbara Gibson of Terra Photography- she rocks.   

project 52 p52 weekly photo challenge

16 February 2012

You Capture: Looking In

Chris and I went to the Capital Building yesterday for our Valentines' Day date. I have tons of pictures to go through before I can post them, but this one is just perfect for this week's "You Capture." This is the top of the dome of the Capital building. It is such an amazing building, absolutely beautiful and detailed.


15 February 2012

Hidden Pond Nature Center - Review

Fairfax County has the most amazing parks and nature centers. When my parents were out visiting us from New Mexico for Christmas, we wanted to check out some of the nearby nature centers and we headed out to Hidden Pond Nature Center.

The first thing you'll see when you enter the lobby is a touch table full of antlers, animal skulls, and turtle shells.

There is a magnifying glass so the kids can examine these things up close. Of course, Casper was much more interested in the magnifying glass than in the specimens.

There is an aquarium filled with fish local to our area.

After the lobby, you can head into the building. I stopped taking pictures at this point because it was just too interesting. There is a giant snapping turtle, tons of snakes and fish, and lizards. There are snake skins the kids can touch and an activity table with coloring pages. There is a volunteer that can answer any questions you have about the local wildlife, too.

This main area of the building looks over the pond and a walking path surrounded by lots of trees. We spotted a beautiful cardinal from the center, and he was still hanging out when we finally headed out the back to check out the pond.

My parents and Casper enjoying Hidden Pond

We really enjoyed our visit to Hidden Pond, and will head back out in the spring, I'm sure!

NapTime MomTog

14 February 2012

13 February 2012

Photo Feedback Week 1

I am so excited to participate in the Photo Feedback blog hop hosted by Kim at Mom Tried It. You know that I am passionate about photography and am always trying to improve my skills. And to do that, I need honest feedback and critique. This is kind of scary to put my work out there and ask for that kind of feedback, but I really do want it.  

Kim pointed out on her blog that, while the kind comments are great and really boost your confidence, they don't help you hone your skill or develop your eye. Today is the first week of the blog hop, so if you want to participate head on over to Mom Tried It to find out more.  

I would love to get some honest feedback on the "after" picture below. I included the original photo so if anyone has any feedback on a different crop or post-processing idea that would be great.

Mom Tried It


This is one of my favorite images. Owen was only 3 weeks old. The afternoon was beautiful, it didn't feel like a mid-November.

and then, she {snapped}

10 February 2012

5/52: Drink Up!

This week's theme is Drink Up! I thought about using a glass of wine, Owen passed out after finishing a bottle, a cup of coffee, but none of those worked for me. This is how I am spending my days (and nights) lately. I'm on the verge of going back to work (early March) and am going to miss these special times of the day when Owen and I steal away from the Chaos of Casper for a little peace. But those nighttime feedings will be all the sweeter, then.

project 52 p52 weekly photo challenge

09 February 2012

My First "Edit Me" Challenge

I thought participating in some of the weekly editing challenges on a couple of the blogs I follow would  help develop my editing skills and be fun, too. This is the first one I have participated in. The image is absolutely lovely and was fun to work with.

the original image by Selena Stoney Photography 

my version
 I thought this image called for a nice, dreamy feeling. I cropped the photo to give it a little bit of a more interesting feel. Then I ran the Coffeeshop action "Moody Pop," bringing the Moody Pop layer down to 40% opacity and converted the photo to black and white. I reduced the vignette almost completely. I really like the way it turned out!

Go over to the Edit Me Challenge to see the rest of this week's participants.

Edit Me