Archive for » January, 2013 «

Adventures in Brianhead

After our lovely Christmas with the Hill side of the family, we + Ryan headed down to Brianhead, Utah to meet up with the Osborn side of the family for a little skiing/snowboarding action before we all went back down to Vegas. Unfortunately, Ol’ Mama Nature decided to stick it to all the people wishing for a white Christmas and dump snow on us the day AFTER, which happened to be when we were hoping to leave. Ok, fine… we’d wait ’til morning, but not a half a day longer! We couldn’t miss this perfect snow and my family, all cooped up and waiting on us, was getting a bad case of cabin fever.

So the next morning, we headed out into the snow in Ryan’s deteriorating Neon.

“We have chains!” we said.

“We are young with iron wills, we’ll make it up the mountain!” we said.

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Four slippery attempts up the mountain and 7 hours later, we found ourselves sipping hot chocolate and slurping soup and saltines at the Parowan town diner, resigning ourselves to the fact that we would not be making it up the mountain that night. And judging by the number of other stranded would-be skiers around us also slurping hot chocolate and soup, we knew we had to find a motel room fast if we didn’t want to sleep in the car.

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Luckily we got the LAST motel room in town, complete with the ever-classy queen-mattresses-on-twin-frames combo, which made for a rather wobbly night. But we were just grateful to have a room! With both laptops running, we managed to introduce Ryan to both Doctor Who and Sherlock (at the same time no less. We would play one while the other buffered, and then when it quit, we would switch and watch the other one while the previous one loaded, etc. The poor little motel internet didn’t know what hit it.)

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The next morning, the ice melted and we made it up the mountain all piece-of-cake-like. We met up with my family just in time to hit the slopes with my dad. Blue skies, light wind, no crowds. Booyah. Totally worth all the effort the previous night!

We documented it all with our GoPros, and it naturally turned into a pretty awesome video, if I do say so myself :)

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Christmas Eve Pizza Night

On Christmas Eve we gathered the fam together for a homemade pizza night. I contributed my friend Anna’s famous spinach pizza and Shannon made BBQ chicken and chicken-bacon-artichoke pizzas. I feel a new Christmas Eve tradition coming on!

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“They see me rollin’…my pizza…”

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Draining the tomatos for the spinach pizza.

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A little brush of melted butter and a sprinkle of garlic salt makes the crust oh so good!

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Even Tian helped make his own allergy-friendly personal pan pizza.

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Saucy!

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Shannon’s genius trick of spreading the sauce all the way to the edges of the rolled-out dough and then rolling it up inside the crust. Try it next time you make homemade pizza. I dare you.

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Nice and brown and bubbly! ::Drool::

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The BBQ

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The Spinach

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The CBA (Chicken Bacon Artichoke)

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Mmmmm…. :)

Now… it would be just plain mean if we showed off all of these yummy photos without providing a way for you to enjoy them yourselves! So the recipes for the dough and all three pizzas are below. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

 

Pizza Dough
 
Creator:
Ingredients
  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1 package Active Dry Yeast, (0.25 oz)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon White Sugar
  • 1 Cup Warm Water
  • ½ tsp Garlic Powder, (or fresh garlic)
  • 2 tsp Pizza Seasoning, (make sure it has marjoram in the seasoning. If not, add in a bit)
Instructions
  1. Combine flour, salt, sugar, pizza seasoning, garlic, and yeast in a large bowl.
  2. Mix in oil & warm water.
  3. Spread out on large pizza pan or stone.
  4. Top as desired.
  5. Bake at 375℉ for 20-25 minutes.
Notes
If you have time, let it rise in a warm place for an hour or two. If not though, the dough is still great un-risen! Recipe for Homemade Pizza Seasoning: 2 T oregano 2 T basil 2 T marjoram 1 tsp garlic powder

Anna's Famous Spinach Pizza
 
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Total time
 
Meatless and utterly delicious!
Creator:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 1 Store-bought pizza crust, (or homemade)
  • 1 Tablespoon Pesto Sauce
  • 1 clove Garlic, pressed
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 ball buffalo mozzerella, sliced
  • ½ cup pre-shredded mozzarella
  • 1 large mushroom, thinly sliced
  • ¼ medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 bag spinach, chopped
  • garlic salt
  • parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Spread sliced mozzarella and tomato slices on a piece of paper towel to draw out the extra water. (The spinach contains A LOT of water so draining the tomato and cheese will help keep it from getting soggy). Sprinkle mozzarella with a good amount of salt.
  2. Preheat a pizza stone in a 250℃ oven.
  3. Remove pizza stone from oven and form pizza crust onto the stone in a circle. Brush with a few drizzles of olive oil, pesto, crushed garlic, pepper, and a generous dash of Italian seasoning.
  4. Place tomatoes evenly spread out onto crust.
  5. Cover entirely with chopped spinach.*
  6. Place mozzarella slices on top of spinach (evenly spaced). Sprinkle liberally with pre-shredded mozzarella.
  7. Top with onions and mushroom slices.
  8. Cover with LOTS of grated parmesan cheese on top.
  9. Brush the crust edges with melted butter and sprinkle with garlic salt.
  10. Sprinkle entire pizza with more fresh cracked pepper and salt.
  11. Bake at 250℃/480 F for approximately 10 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly. The cheese needs to be quite browned to make sure the crust is fully cooked.
  12. Tilt pizza to check for water build up. If there is some, soak it up with a paper towel and bake for a minute or two more.
  13. Cool for a few minutes, slice, and enjoy!
Notes
Makes enough for 2 slices per person for 3 people. *You will use more spinach than you think you'll need. It shrinks quite a bit in the oven. It is recommended that you follow these cooking instructions, despite what your pizza dough recipe calls for. The high heat and short cooking time allow for the correct amount of moisture to evaporate from the spinach. Otherwise you might end up with a soggy pizza!

BBQ Chicken Pizza
 
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Creator:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 1 Pizza Dough
  • 1 bottle BBQ Sauce
  • 1-2 breasts Grilled Chicken , (or 2-3 thighs) cut into bits.
  • ¼ Red onion
  • 1.5 cups Mozzerella Cheese
  • Cilantro, chopped
Instructions
  1. Roll out pizza dough. Spread BBQ sauce to taste on top of dough all the way to the edges. Roll up the edges around the sauce to form the crust.
  2. Top with half the cheese, all the toppings, and then the rest of the cheese. Top it all off with cilantro.
  3. Bake at 375℉ for 18-22 minutes until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly

Chicken Bacon Artichoke Pizza
 
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Creator:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 1 Pizza crust, unbaked
  • 1 jar Alfredo sauce
  • 1 cup Mozzerella cheese
  • 1-2 Grilled Chicken breast, (grilled with oil and salt)
  • 1 can Artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 slices Bacon, cooked and cut into pieces
  • handful Spinach
  • 1 Green onion, chopped
  • 2-3 small Mushrooms, sliced to preference
Instructions
  1. Roll out pizza dough flat. Spread a layer of alfredo sauce (to taste preference) all the way to the edges of the dough. Roll up edges of dough (around sauce) to form crust.
  2. Top with ½ of the mozzerella cheese. Add all the toppings. Add the rest of the cheese.
  3. Bake at 375℉ for 18-22 minutes until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly.

 

 

The Good, The Bad, and the Guilty

“It is 10:10 p.m., 2 July 1881-a balmy evening in the little Wyoming Territory town of Roadkill.”*

So begins the night of dastardly deeds. Judge Waylon Payne was found murdered in his home on the eve of the hangin’ of the Malevolent Seven. One of these scheming, conniving folks has done it, but who??

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Chief Breaking Wind

Leader of the Cowpai tribe and town barber of Roadkill.

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Helena Handcart

Matriarch of the Handcart clan, mother of all thirteen (tragically killed) Handcart boys.

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P’elvis Swagarin

Mysterious gunslinger; recently arrived in Roadkill.

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Butch Chastity

Head of an all-female gang of outlaws; one of the most feared women in the West.

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Dee Adela Muerta

Mexican beauty, thrice-widowed, now Roadkill’s pastor and undertaker.

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Elias Truist-Heath

Up-and-coming heartthrob gunslinger. Raised by Judge Waylon Payne.

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Elvira-Lynn Fekshin

Madam of the Pigeon Ranch, the best little whorehouse in Roadkill.

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Wyatt Hertz

Former sheriff of Roadkill, caught a shotgun blast in the privates. Now owns Hertz Rent-A-Horse.

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Meg A. Helper

Milkmaid to Helena Handcart who survived the gunfight at Helena’s ranch that killed all 13 sons.

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It was a night of cunning intrigue and fierce deception.

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No one was to be trusted.

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 Alliances were formed,

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 accusations were made,

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and dinner was eaten.

All to find out…..

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WHO DUNNIT???

 

*How To Host a Murder, created by Decipher, Inc.

Christmas with the Hills

Chris and I went back to the US to spend Christmas with the Hill side of the family this year.

I don’t know about you, but our Christmas was lovely!

It was filled with home baked cookies,

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 dinosaurs,

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kisses,

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pizza,

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silly faces,

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pretty faces,

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Christmas carols,

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and happiness.

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Not to mention Snuggies that are full of awesome,

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funny jokes (Hint: That’s an eye.)

Wait for it….

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There it is!

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Norwegian treats,

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wrapping paper nom noms,

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and love.

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And, in pure Christmas Story fashion… one last present for Jon hiding behind the couch.

Daddys-iPad

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:)

Off-camera it was also full of visits with grandparents and uncles and Osborns, hoagie dinners,  and lots of games!

Merry Belated Christmas everyone!

C²’s Tips For An Awesome Cruise

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Before we finally put this cruise to bed, we wanted to share with you a few tips we learned from our Mediterranean cruising experience.  This was our first cruise for both couples (except for Chris, who did a cruise to Mexico filming a reality show a few years ago, but that was for work so it doesn’t really count), so I’m not sure we’re entirely qualified to be handing out advice for how to go on a cruise, but we learned a lot on our experience so we’d thought we’d share in case other would-be and first-time cruisers might find it useful! A lot of this stuff I’ve mentioned in previous posts, but I figured it would be a good idea to put it all down in one place. So here we go….

1. If you are going on a sightseeing cruise, make sure you pick an itinerary with lots of days at sea.

We learned that not all cruising experiences are the same. There are Caribbean-style cruises where the focus is on sun, cool drinks, and relaxation and you spend most of your days chillin’ on the beach or pool. Ours was a sightseeing-style cruise. The focus was on seeing as much as you can during days at port rather than pure relaxation. Because we were only in each port for such a short amount of time and there was SO much to see and do, we found ourselves thoroughly dirty, sore, and exhausted by the end of each day. We loved it, but we were SO grateful for the sea days we had in between all the running around (4 days at sea total). So if you are going on a sightseeing cruise, DEFINITELY find an itinerary with plenty of days at sea. They sound boring, but you are going to want/need them! Plus, there’s so much to do on the ship, you won’t be bored :)

2.  Don’t be afraid to go outside of the cruise line when planning tours and excursions.

Even if you have never been to the country you are cruising to, be sure to research excursions outside of the ones provided by the cruise. We were inexperienced and a bit terrified of venturing off on our own in places like Egypt and Israel and Greece, where the languages and street signs weren’t remotely understandable. So we booked the majority of our excursions through the cruise ship. I wouldn’t say it was a big mistake, but we got quite frustrated with the way they were run. It was a lot of sitting around waiting. Waiting for people to check in. Waiting for people who were late. Waiting for the older folks. The groups of 30-40 people so the tours were extremely slow and oftentimes you couldn’t get close enough to the guide to ask questions. The guides got paid commission for certain purchases the tourists made, so they tried to sell you stuff while you were stuck on the bus and would take you to irrelevant shopping centers. Plus, the tours made you feel like an über tourist because you had to wear headphones and stickers and badges that made you stick out like a flashing neon sign.

Now, this style of tour might be great for some people, but we wanted more adventure and more of a local feel. Our excursion in Turkey made us realize there were many other options beyond the excursions offered by the cruise line. Our private tour through Ekol Tours didn’t cost any more than it would have through the ship and we got an extremely personal tour guide, Iksander. We got to ask all the questions we wanted and even got to customize the experience. Our guide was initially going to take us to a leather factory, but when we expressed that we weren’t wanting to buy any leather he routed us elsewhere. He also gave us loads of tips about places the locals go for us to explore during our free time so we could avoid the tourist traps and experience the real Kusadasi. It was fantastic and we really thought we got way more bang for our buck than we did on any of the tours through the ship.

I’m not saying never go with a cruise tour (in the end we decided we were grateful we went with the cruise tour in Egypt), but at least research other options. These places aren’t as scary as you think and doing a little research will give you a great idea of what is available. Don’t forget to read the reviews on Trip Advisor!

3. Be prepared for the insanely inflated prices.

 We knew that going on a cruise was going to be expensive. People told us how high the prices were on the ship, but we weren’t prepared for HOW high. At one point Chris needed some Nyquil and the only one available was a tiny bottle for $16. So take what your expectations are for expenses on board and double them. Which leads to tip #4….

4. Bring your own medicine and first aid. 

Plan for the unexpected. We didn’t think we’d need Nyquil because who plans to get sick on a vacation?? But with the amount of germy people on the ship, you’re bound to need some sort of cold medicine. All 4 of us caught various small bugs during the trip. Neosporin (for the inevitable blisters) would have cost an arm and a leg if we hadn’t brought our own. I would also recommend anti-diarreahals. We ate relatively healthy on the ship, but 3 of the 4 of us still ended up with some runs (TMI?). And if you try to get some pills for anything but seasickness from the first aid office, they will put you in quarantine for a day and cancel your shore excursions, even for a minor cold. So make your life so much simpler and just bring your own. Which leads me to my 5th point…

5. Eat healthy breakfast and lunches.

Splurge all you want on dinner and dessert, but if you eat short stacks with sausage and bacon and nutella covered toast and greasy burgers & fries for every meal every day, your bowels are going to be hating you. Use breakfast and lunch to stock up your system on fruits, veggies and fiber and leave the fatty, sugary, delicious stuff for dinner. Besides, we found the food at dinner to be far superior while most of the breakfasts and lunches weren’t worth the calories.

6. You won’t need as many clothes and shoes as you think you do.

Seriously…don’t bring 6 pairs of shoes. You’ll need flip flops, walking shoes, and dressy shoes TOPS. Pick outfits that will be multipurpose (mix and match with layers) that match your three pairs of shoes and you’ll be good to go. Learn from our mistake ;)

7. Pack some extra hangers. 

We read that tip on another blog (I wish I could remember which one to cite it!) and it proved extremely useful. The cruise closets have some, but definitely not enough.

8. When picking a cabin, go for the cheap interior on a sightseeing cruise. Save the windows and balconies for relaxation cruises.

We were cheapskates and got the smallest interior rooms we could. Our intention was to spend the money we saved on the room on better excursions and we were really happy we did!  We spent relatively little time in our room and we were glad we didn’t splurge for a sea view or balcony. I definitely think if were doing a Caribbean or Mexican cruise we would go balcony all the way, but for a Mediterranean sightseeing cruise we were glad we put our pennies to better use.

 

Well there you have it. C²’s guide to an awesome cruise. It’s not much, but from one beginner to another hopefully you will find it useful someday! If any of you veteran cruisers out there reading this have any other tips to share, please share them in the comments below!

Cruising for us was a great way to see a lot of countries that we normally would have been a too wary of traveling to on our own and opened up a whole new view for us. I don’t know if we will ever become “cruisers,” but I definitely see a few more in our future!