The Instant Pot

Have you heard of the Instant Pot? Do you have one? It’s something I’ve been wanting to get but I have to admit it is a little intimidating to me. Plus, I am a really picky eater and weird about food and the thought of cooking meat in just minutes kind of freaks me out a little bit. I like my meat overcooked and crispy. Anyone with me on that? I know, I know… I’m kind of a weird one.

An Instant Pot looks kind of like a crock pot, the main difference is instead of taking all day to cook something, the Instant Pot speeds up cooking and uses 70% less energy. I have a friend that swears by her Instant Pot and uses it almost daily. She ones made this chicken with this Winger’s sauce (remember the restaurant Wingers?) and then she put it over a salad. It was so good!  When I asked her which brand she recommends, she said she uses the Instant Pot brand (affiliate link). That is the brand that I have been researching and watching for good deals on.

To be honest, I really don’t like to cook and if something like the Instant Pot could help simplify my life, it might be worth the investment of $50-100, depending on the features. For example, there is one that has Bluetooth and connects to your phone. There is lux series that comes in a mini or all the way up to an 8-quart. It has 12 smart built-in programs that allow you to make soups, meats, eggs, rice and even a cake, to name a few.  And all of that in a matter of minutes instead of all day.

So help me out, if you have an Instant Pot and you love it or hate it I want to know. I also need some tips and recipes so please share those with me too. And if I end up getting one I’ll post what I think about it.

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The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Just in time for the holidays! These chocolate chip cookies are sure to be the talk of the party. There is one secret ingredient that makes all the difference! Should I tell you what it is? It the Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips. Now, these are not your typical chocolate chips. They are like at least three times the size of a regular chocolate chip. My kids love these cookies and usually have them gone as soon as they come out of the over because warm, doughy cookies are the best.


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HOW TO MAKE THE BEST CHOCOLATE COOKIES EVER

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup Crisco butter flavor baking sticks softened

2/3 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

1/4 cup milk

1 package Ghiradelli Milk Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine baking soda, flour and salt in a bowl. In another bowl mix together Crisco, sugars, vanilla until creamy. Add eggs. Slowly add in flour mixture. If the dough is too thick add some milk to make it a little more creamy. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop tablespoon size balls onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Eat them warm or let them cool a little and dip them in milk.

 
Get your kitchen ready for the holidays with Hamilton Beach products from Walmart.com

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Girl’s Trip to Coronado, California

This past September I took a girl’s trip to Coronado, California. It seriously was one of the best vacations with my besties ever. It was my first time visiting Coronado and I think it’s probably now one of my favorite spots to travel.

Planning this trip wasn’t very easy. We wanted it to be the perfect vacation. We thought about Hawaii, Mexico, Florida but in the end we decided on California because we didn’t want to waste one of our days on an airplane. We decided on Coronado but we had a hard time figuring out where to stay and what to do. We searched online for information and asked people all about Coronado, but we weren’t having much luck finding out the best places to stay, eat, etc. Pretty much our only requirement was a swimming pool (with a pool boy – j/k), a nice beach, a Coke. Pretty low maintenance, right? So the purpose of this post is to remember exactly what we did and where we stayed so I’ll remember for next time and to help others who are traveling to this gorgeous little spot.

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Getting There

Flying from Utah to California is pretty inexpensive. We flew on Delta Airlines for $130 or 10,000 sky miles, which is such a good deal.  When we arrived we knew we didn’t want to rent a car because out plan was just to relax for 4 days straight, so we took an Uber to our hotel. We didn’t care about shopping, sight seeing or any of that, weird huh? We just wanted to lay at the beach and enjoy each others company.

Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa

Our first night we stayed at Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa. The rate to stay at the Del for our first night was over $1200 so we chose this spot on the quiet end of the island. I am so happy we did. There was no beach but there was a gorgeous bay and a swimming pool. It’s always nice staying at a Marriott Resort, the amenities and spa had everything we needed. At night we rode bikes from the resort (which are free to use) about a mile away to some shops and restaurants. We chose to eat at a cute greek cafe called Spiros. We sat in the outdoor seating overlooking the bay and had the best chicken kabobs. They had live music playing which made the ambiance and night just perfect. This part of the island was really calm and quiet and the perfect spot to begin our trip. The next morning we slept in then went to breakfast at the hotel restaurant. It had outdoor seating and was a great way to start the day. After we ate we went to our room, got our luggage and called for an Uber to take us to Hotel Del.

Hotel Del Coronado

We were so excited. We had heard such great things about this place. When we arrived there were people everywhere. It was much more busier on this end of the island but you could just feel the excitement in the air. The hotel has a nostalgia feel to it and I could picture in my mind what it was like when The Del first opened years and years ago. The Del recently became a Hilton Hotel which our Uber driver said a lot of people weren’t happy about, but we weren’t too worried because I usually stay at Hilton brand hotels.

We checked into our room and the hotel concierge took us to our room. It was gorgeous and even though the hotel was older it had a new smell, like maybe it just got new carpet or paint. We had paid more for a room with a partial island view. When we went out to our balcony we were disappointed to find our view was a great big plant. We called the front desk asking for a room change and unfortunately the hotel was completely booked. They ended up removing the upgrade charge and wanted to make us happy, which we were.

We pretty much spent the next few days on the beach, eating and when we had to go back to the room we laid in bed and watched the series Younger, which is my new favorite.

Hotel Del has a few different swimming pools and a gorgeous beach where you can rent beach chairs for around $20 a day. We chose to the beach over the pool because that’s something we don’t have here in Utah. The beach didn’t get too crowded in September and we couldn’t have asked for better weather which was in the high 70s.

There are also many restaurants and fun little shops on the hotel property so we pretty much just stayed on location, only leaving for our fountain Cokes and dinner.

We would walk across the street to La Salsa to get our daily dose of fountain Coke. Their food looked pretty good too, if you’re wanting a quick lunch or dinner.

For dinner one night we went to Miguel’s Cocina which is within walking distance from the hotel. It was hidden back behind other shops and had a nice Mexico feel to it. The fajitas were probably the best I ever had and they were reasonably priced, especially for being in a resort town.

Another night we went to a fun local spot, Village Pizzeria. I had a no cheese, veggie pizza that was to die for.

What We Would Do Differently

Hmmm… for sure stay longer, which isn’t really possible since we all have kids and husbands at home. But honestly I have to say good company, good hotel, beach and food made for the perfect vacation. In fact, I’m already planning my next destination there and every time those dang Facebook ads for The Del pop up in my feed it takes me back and makes me long for my next vacation. If you’ve never been to Coronado, book your trip to day. You won’t be disappointed.

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Fall Photo Shoot Locations

Fall is quickly passing us by and before we know it winter will be here. The month of October was full of fun fall photo shoots. I could not have asked for more perfect weather.  Now, I’m gearing up for the colder months, brrr. Everyone seems to want photos right before Christmas and I always feel bad when I can’t fit everyone in, there really needs to be five of me from Oct.-Dec. – haha! Anyway, today I’m sharing some of my favorite fall Northern Utah photo shoots.

Pineview Damn

I’ve always had a favorite spot at Pineview, but this year I found a new one that is free to use. I did a couple different sessions up here. The colors were gorgeous, however it was a little colder than it is in the valley.

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How to get there: I meet my clients at the Maverick in Ogden Valley. If the sun isn’t too bright or we have plenty of time, I like to do some in the field to the north of the gas station. Then we take a right out of the north entrance, through the stop sign and follow the road around. When you pass the little town square with Carlos and Harley’s continue on the same road but before the road takes a sharp left keep going straight on the dirt road.

Rainbow Gardens

This is a gorgeous spot for fall pictures. There are weeds, trees and it really looks like you are up in the mountains without having really being in the mountains.

Mantua

This year was my first time doing fall pics in Mantua and I loved it. There is the lake with a dock and then just down the road are the gorgeous fall colors.

Riverdale Trailhead

This spot is off of Parker Drive in Riverdale. It is located at the trailhead. There are a lot of trees, a bridge, fallen trees to sit on and even some tunnels that help mix it up again.

Bird Refuge

The bird refuge in west Layton is a great spot also.

Antelope Island

This is probably my favorite spot year round but in the fall it is bug free which makes for a much better experience.

 

 

 

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Fall Fashion

It’s so weird to me that every single item of clothing I wore in high school is now back in style. Glad I saved two things — a denim Calvin Klein jean jacket and a pair of Doc Martens. I’ve been wearing the jean jacket forever, in fact it is now full of holes, but I haven’t dared put on the shoes. The funny thing is, about 15 years ago I got a sharpie and crossed out the Calvin Klein logo. Now I want it back – haha! Esprit, Guess, Tommy Hillfiger, etc. all have a nostalgia feel to them that when I see the logo takes me back to another lifetime.

I really need some need fall clothes — jeans, sweaters, boots, etc. I need it all or I guess I should say I want it all. So spending some time on Amazon I picked out a few tops that I like and some of the prices are like way cheap. I wonder if they are too good to be true? I guess I will find out.

  1. Open front knit cardigan. I have one similar to this in navy and it’s my favorite! I could wear these everyday. I love the pockets and the long length. It comes in seven different colors and for this price I want them all.

2. Ruffle Tee. So this is a penny with $9.99 shipping. What?

3. Open sleeve blouse. I’ve been looking for a shirt like this, but I need the shoulders covered so this one looks perfect. The thing is it only costs .78 — how weird is that? It says it’s from China so maybe that’s why.

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Homecoming Photo Shoot

Sometimes I have really big plans to do something really great and it ends up not going as planned, but still pretty good. This was the case with this year’s homecoming pictures. This was such a fun group, probs because it’s my son Nic and his friends. They were hilarious since none of them have their drivers license or have been on a date before (sorry girls). They showed up for pictures at 6:25 and their dinner reservation was for 6:30. So instead of the 30-45 minutes shoot I was planning on we got it done in 10-15 minutes.

We did the shoot in downtown Ogden, just off of 25th Street. The textured brick wall was the perfect spot for the look I was going for. Their dinner reservations were at the Union Grill which is located in the same parking lot so it worked out well.

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Insalata Grande

The title sounds so fancy!

Lately salads have been my top choice for meals. Maybe it’s because of my get fit and healthy quest for 2017. I don’t know? You’d think with the weather we’ve been having I’d be going for comfort foods like soups and pot pies and meat and potatoes.

There is a little pizza shop in Farmington called Settebello. It’s special to me. It’s one of my favorite restaurants and it’s where I meet my 2 besties for lunch 2-3 times a month. We’ve been going there since they opened and before that we would go to the one in Salt Lake.  Shauna introduced us to it on our way back from one of her cancer treatments. We got it to go and went back to her house and ate it and talked and laugh. So maybe why it’s our go to spot. All I can say is I’ve gotten take out from there before and it’s not nearly as good as it is when us friends are all together there.

Anyway, my point for this post is to talk about the salad I get with my pizza. It’s called Insalata Grande and it is delicious. Normally I don’t venture out and try new things but when they added this to the lunch menu I decided to try it — good choice. So the other night the salad sounded so good, but since it’s a good 30 minutes away and we have been pretty much snowed in I decided to recreate the salad on my own and it was so good I’d thought I’d share the recipe… and put it here because I know it won’t get lost – haha!

Here is how I made it…

I got the mixed greens from the salad bar at Smith’s Marketplace because for some reason the lettuce in the bag looked brown and old. Which this actually was a good idea because I knew I’d be the only one eating it so I got plenty of greens just for me for $1.00 and didn’t have to worry about the rest of a bag going to waste.

Next, I went to the olive bar there at Smith’s and got a half a pound of the grilled artichoke hearts and kalamata olives. They had marinated artichoke hearts that tasted like they’d been pickled and olives with pits in them so make sure you get them without.

Lastly, I got a tiny bit of pine nuts from the healthy food section. Pine nuts are $19.99 a pound! So I just got what I needed which cost around .75. The pine nuts are the icing on the cake and so good.

And that’s it! I forgot the tomato but it was fine and flavorful without it. At the restaurant they add shaved parmigiano reggiano and balsamic vinaigrette, I leave those off. They do have a delicious spicy olive oil that I love to add to the salad and my pizza.

Another good salad that you can buy from the deli section at Smith’s is the superfood salad. It is so good! It has kale, sunflower seeds, craisins, blueberries, edamame and so much more. Next time you’re there ask them for a sample.

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DIY Valentine’s Day Shirt

You’ve probably seen all the darling Valentine’s shirts online and in local boutiques, but they can be pretty pricey. So Joan and I did a little DIY for Wasatch View (video below) and then later on I made another one to put on here. They were so fun and easy to make. You can do them for yourself or the kids with different words or shapes.

XOXO Sweatshirt

I got this grey sweatshirt from WalMart in the men’s department for $6.

I got this white glittery iron-on transfer sheet from Michaels. It was on clearance for $2. If it’s not on clearance you can always use the 40% off coupons that are online.

So I just printed out the X and O on regular copy paper and then traced it onto the transfer paper. Next I cut the letters out of the transfer paper and put them where I wanted them on the sweatshirt. Next I got an old thin t-shirt to put over the letters, then I ironed over it with the iron on high.

And that’s it! It was that easy and the entire project cost me $8. You can’t tell but the letters have a little sparkle too them. You could use plain transfer paper or the glitter kind also comes in other colors.

I had some left over transfer paper so I decided to add a little heart to a shirt I’ve had in my closet for years. I think I’m ready for Valentine’s Day! Be sure to watch the video below for more ideas.

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I got a fish pedicure!

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My job at the Standard-Examiner has taken me on some crazy, but fun adventures and this is one of them – a fish pedicure! So a few people have been asking me questions after seeing the video so I thought I’d answer them here.

  1. Will you do it again? Heck ya! My dry winter feet were nice and smooth after.
  2. Was it really that scary? Ummm… no! Okay I admit that I was a little dramatic but I’ll also admit I was a little creeped out at first. It’s just a weird feeling when you first put your feet into the water.
  3. Is it safe? Yes, the water is filtered and recycled constantly.
  4. Would you let your kids do it? Yes, of course as long as they didn’t try to reach in and grab the fish – haha!

So that’s about it. You can get this done at SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium at the Layton Hills Mall for under $15. So go try it out!

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Get in Shape Girl!

It’s a new year and with that comes the long list of resolutions, goals, etc. One thing that is always on my list is being more healthy and getting in shape. Which should be pretty easy on my end since I’ve pretty much hit rock bottom on both of those, so going up is my only option. Haha I’m kidding. Well kinda. I’ve gotten into this bad, bad habit of having to have a Coke first thing in the morning, then another in the afternoon and I shouldn’t admit that sometimes I have another at bedtime. Yikes! So, I’m going to take baby steps and not get rid of it completely but try and just have one a day.

Now, the working out part. I use to be really, really good about going to the gym every single day. I don’t even have a gym membership anymore. But that’s on my list. I’m going to join a gym. I’ve had a membership at Lady Fitness which was alright. It was at their old location and I hear the new one is much. much better. I’ve been to Gold’s at the Junction which I loved. And my favorite was the Ogden Athletic Club. I loved it because all of my kids could find something to do there, so I wasn’t leaving them home or sticking them in a daycare. It was the perfect match for my family. So what’s the problem? It was so far away to drive every night. Why can’t we have something like that here in North Ogden? There are a couple new gyms that I want to try out. But in the meantime I guess I will continue doing the workouts off of YouTube, which I guess are better than nothing. And in case you need a new workout and are stuck like I am, my two favorite YouTube workout channels are Blogilates and Popsugar Fitness.

 

 

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