Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New calling

Our ward split a few Sundays ago, and with that, big changes took place. A new Bishopric, new presidencies, etc. Sunday I was sustained as 2nd counselor in the Primary presidency. As much as I love and will miss Relief Society, I am truly thrilled to have received this call. It will be a bit of an adjustment for Chloe, especially since she already sometimes struggles in Sharing time. But we'll overcome the little humps. I am really looking forward to the challenges, blessings and opportunities for growth this calling is sure to bring.
So that's my big news! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Chicken Parmesan with creamy tomato basil

Here's a pasta dish I recently tried out. It was a hit, and I'll definitely make it again. I found this on My Fabulous Recipes, a food blog I stumbled upon a few weeks ago, and have since become slightly addicted to. The original recipe can be found here. Or here's my own adaptation.


  • Your favorite pasta noodles (we love angel hair in this house)
  • 1 lb. chicken breasts, pounded 1/4 inch thick, then cut in half (I basically cut them to the size of large chicken tenders)
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 c. panko (Asian bread crumbs)
  • 2 t. seasoned salt
  • 2 t. parsley flakes
  • 1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • Olive or canola oil
  • Creamy tomato basil sauce, below


You'll need 3 shallow bowls (I used pie dishes): 1 for the eggs (beaten), 1 for the flour, and 1 for the panko. Mix seasoned salt, parsley flakes, and parmesan cheese with panko.

Dredge chicken in flour. Shake off excess. Transfer to eggs, then onto panko mixture for an even coat. In a large skillet (I use my electric skillet), heat enough oil to create a very shallow layer on medium-high heat. When oil is hot, place the breaded chicken in the skillet and cook 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain excess oil.

Ingredients for Creamy tomato basil sauce:

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 - 1 t. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans diced tomatoes (I used 1 can and chopped them up a bit)
  • 1 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T. dry red wine (optional - I didn't have any on hand)
  • 1 t. white sugar
  • 1/3 c. fresh chopped basil
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup mascarpone cheese (here's a substitution: 16 oz. cream cheese, 1/3 c. sour cream, 1/4 c. heavy whipping cream - if I remember right, cutting this in half came to about 2/3 c.)

Instructions for sauce:

First, start your pasta, following package instructions.

In a medium sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes until carmelized, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, red wine (if desired), and sugar, and cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the basil, salt, and black pepper, and simmer, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the mascarpone cheese, until sauce becomes creamy. Pour over pasta and chicken and enjoy!

My own two cents:

The pasta absorbed the sauce pretty fast, so when I heated up leftovers, I added half and half to thin it out, and to make it go further. Next time I'll probably double the sauce recipe portion, and still add just a touch of half and half or whipping cream. Maybe I should have used the second can of tomatoes. That just seemed like a lot to me.

I wasn't sure about the panko, considering it's Asian and this is an Italian dish. But it was really good, and I'll absolutely use it again. I bought a box at Safeway for $1.79. It had a crunchier consistency than traditional bread crumbs and as a result, made getting a decent coat over the chicken much easier.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ryan is 6 months!

WARNING: This post contains nudity. If you consider bare baby bums to be offensive, exit this blog immediately! And seriously, get a life!

Ryan had his 6 month check up yesterday. He's my long lean boy, still with plenty of chunks! Here are his current stats:

16 lbs., 6 oz. (31st percentile)
27 inches (75th percentile)

And here are some of the things that have been occupying his time:

He's been sitting stably for a couple weeks now. It's great plopping him on the floor with a toy and walking away, knowing he'll be perfectly fine. He especially enjoys sitting in front of the mirror in our bedroom, where he can admire his reflection. He gets quite a kick out of himself. Who wouldn't starring at such a handsome face?

What a little ham!

He's slowly becoming mobile. When I lay him on his back, he immediately rolls onto his stomach, then straightens his arms, ultimately lifting his top half off the floor. Now if he could just figure out what to do with those legs, he'd be taking off! He has started to do the backwards army crawl, and also rotates around in a circle over and over again, but hasn't yet grasped traditional crawling. I'd be willing to bet that within 2 weeks the safety gate finds a permanent home at the top of the stairs.


Ryan is still a horrible sleeper! Early to bed, early to rise with lots of wakings in between is his philosophy. Drives me crazy. I've tried everything I know to try. Feeding him solids just before bed, laying him down when he's still awake, letting him cry it out at night, etc. Naps aren't much better. Rarely does he sleep for more than 45 minutes to an hour at a time. Stubborn boy. Good thing I love him so much!


He's started mumbling some with the "goos" and "gaas", but mainly just squeals and coos still. He has the sweetest temperament, and loves to just sit back and observe the action most of the time. I'm learning he is very responsive to music. Often when he's fussing, I'll start to sing and almost immediately he will stop fussing. Sunday when Neil and I subbed in Primary, Ryan hardly took his eyes off
Anna, who lead singing time.

If you smile at Ryan, he'll smile right back, guaranteed. He's my friendly, social, sweet SWEET boy.


Not sure where the last 6 months went. Hopefully the next 6 give me at least a few moments to breathe and enjoy this baby before he's not one anymore!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Wedding Festivities: Part 3

Thursday made for lots and lots of driving. First from Nashville to Knoxville (Courtney's hometown) where the big reception was held. Then back home to Atlanta for one final shindig Friday. Here are a handful of photos highlighting the events.


Love this one of Neil. What a looker. And typical Ryan, chewing on Daddy's thumb.

Ryan: "What are ya lookin' at me for? I didn't pinch him!"
(With sister-in-law, Allison and [tired] nephew, Grant.)

Father/Daughter dance...

The bride and maid of honor gettin' down with their bad selves...

My sweet babies. Ryan had about had it by this point, as you can see in his expression.


Dave and Susie's gorgeous yard - the same yard, in fact, where our reception was held nearly seven years ago!

We haven't changed too much, have we?

Lori and Jared. What a cute couple they make.

Okay, there's a really funny story behind this one! Neil's family knows this guy (Terry) from church. Each Christmas season he plays the role of Santa. Bet you never would have guessed that! So you can imagine the astonishment and wonder in Chloe's eyes the minute she spotted him. She hardly left him alone the whole evening. She even said to him at one point, "Santa, I'm so happy to see you!" We kept telling her that Brad and Courtney must be pretty special if Santa showed up to their wedding reception! The whole thing was hilarious.
What was even more hilarious is when Sunday morning rolled around and "Santa" and Mrs. Clause came and sat directly behind us in church. After tapping Chloe on the shoulder to say hello, he handed her a gift bag containing a 'Ho Ho Ho' bracelet and two candy canes. Her eyes lit up and jaw dropped. She just couldn't believe it! She kept whispering to us, "Santa's here! Santa's at Grandma Susie's church!" We are absolutely planning to use this to our advantage in the future. What's the harm in reminding Chloe that Brad and Courtney have an in with the big man? And that anytime she's being naughty they will tell him about it!

The life of the party. Between Ryan and Grant, I think several women got their baby fill.

The happy couple, who by this point were probably about wedding'd out.

And last but not least, thee now complete Andersen sisters.

Part 4, the final leg of these posts, coming soon...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wedding Festivities: Part 2

With the Knoxville and Atlanta receptions behind us (which Part 3 will be about when I get the chance), we had a couple days left to bum around before heading home Sunday night. Saturday we took Chloe to the neighborhood pool. To say she loved it is a huge understatement! She could not get enough of that water! The girl had NO FEAR, jumping off the edge, going under, and even kicking her way from the stairs to Grandma all without an ounce of hesitation! She is so close to swimming on her own, and will for sure be by the end of the summer.

Aunt Lori got quite the workout tossing Chloe around!

Practicing with Great Grandma Jean

Jeff was such a good sport, over-exaggerating each of Chloe's shoves into the pool.
I think she felt pretty empowered.

Grandma Susie and Ryan watching on...

Getting a feel for the water.

As you can see, the excitement wore him out pretty quick!

Neil and his siblings spent countless hours of their childhood doing swim leagues at this pool each summer. What's really cool is that the pool literally backs up to their parent's backyard so it's just a hop, skip and a jump away.

Here they are! From left to right: Jeff, Neil, Lori, and Brad (what a little man).
Lori's sitting on the same diving board that Chloe was pushing Jeff off of a few photos above.

The Andersens are definitely a water lovin' family, so it's good to see Chloe's already blending in well.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A belated wish... Jeff, who celebrated his birthday last Saturday, the 9th!

Goofing around with Chloe at Brad and Courtney's wedding.

Jeff is Neil's younger brother by 16 months. I've heard countless stories about all the trouble and tears they put their poor mother through as young boys. My favorite is the roman candle story when they were, in Neil's words, "shooting them at one another" before eventually catching the lawn on fire. As if that wasn't brilliant enough, they proceeded to cover up their disaster by spray painting the lawn green! This story continues to make me laugh, and I can only imagine some of the other things they came up with.

They look so sweet and innocent, don't they?

My first memory of Jeff is when Neil and I were engaged, back in summer of 2002. He called me on the phone one day, claiming to be Gerald, I think it was, from my college Biology class. After introducing himself and trying to convince me that we knew each other, "Gerald" proceeded to ask me out for "a hamburger". While I never bought it, I'll have to say Jeff did a pretty good job of sticking to his story. He probably went on for a good five minutes before finally admitting he was actually Jeff, my future brother-in-law, NOT Gerald from Biology. In the seven years I've known him, Jeff has continued to be the fun, outgoing, jokester I remember from that very first phone call!

Here are Neil and Jeff with the boys. This was just taken last week.

Jeff, thanks for always making us smile. You are awesome, and I hope you had a very happy birthday!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wedding Festivities: Part 1

Last Wednesday, we had the privilege of witnessing and taking part in Neil's youngest brother, Brad's wedding in Tennessee. The trip was busy, but a refreshing break from the norm. We flew into Atlanta, drove straight to Nashville, and then onto Knoxville (Courtney's home town), before heading back to Atlanta, all in a three day span. It was wonderful seeing family and creating happy memories.

Here's part 1 of our trip:

Nashville Tennessee LDS temple. Beautiful.
{It poured down rain quite a bit of the morning, but the sun came out just in time for pictures.}

Here they are... Mr. and Mrs. Andersen!

Chloe was thee anything BUT camera-shy flower girl.

Grandpa Don and Grandma Jean with great grandchildren: Ryan, Chloe and Grant.
{Ryan and Grant are 23 days apart}

Flower girl giving the groom a "spanking." Not sure what he did to deserve that.

The boys holding the newest Andersen addition.

Grandpa David introducing Ryan to roses.

As you can see, Uncle Don had a little too much fun with Grant's irresistible cheeks!

And, oh, why not? Here's one of us.

Congratulations, newlyweds!
And Courtney, welcome to the family!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Did ya miss me?

We are back from an awesome and crazy trip! I wish I had time to go through my photos and post all the details, but my house is a wreck and it's a gorgeous almost 80 degree day outside. Between cleaning and the sunshine, I'm afraid blogging will have to wait. But stay tuned... I'll be back soon!

Monday, May 4, 2009


Wow, what a week! I've had lots to blog about but no free time! As much as I'd love to catch you all up, the little voice inside of me is saying "Sleep! Sleep!" We are heading to TN in the morning for Neil's brother's wedding. While I'm NOT looking forward to the travel portion of the trip, I AM looking forward to seeing Neil's family and relaxing in the warm southern sunshine! We will spend some of our time in TN and some in GA, where Neil's parents live. Should be a good time.

I'll try to catch up on blogging early next week when we are home and settled back into the swing of things. In the meantime, however, here are two bits of exciting news:

First, as you see below, Mr. Ryan is sitting up on his own! He's still not completely stable, but can sit for a few minutes at a time and is improving every day.

And Second.... drum roll please.... yes, that's carpet Ryan's sitting on... in our FINISHED BASEMENT! Woo hoo! 15 months of hard work has finally paid off. Props to my wonderful and handy husband, who truly created 2000 sq. ft. of pure beauty (and literally saved us thousands of dollars doing it all himself)!


More to come... Tomorrow is going to be early and long, so I need to get some rest!