Friday, March 11, 2011

little vacation, big adventure

Last fall, when all five of our kids had the same fall break from school we wanted to spend the time doing something really fun. But with only a couple of days and a limited vacation fund to work with we had to get creative.  Inspiration came through a friend who told us about their great trip to to San Fransisco last summer and how a city pass they found made their trip even better.  We couldn't squeeze in a trip to California but maybe a city a little closer to home had a city pass.  One Google search later and there it was, the Salt Lake City Connect Pass.  We found that, through one option, for $36 per person or $30 for kids we could enjoy our choice of 13 different attractions in two days.  That sounds like quite a race, but that is what made our little vacation such a big adventure.

Day 1
9:00 a.m    
Friday Morning began early at the Hogle Zoo just as it was opening.  We headed straight to the giraffe house to catch them in time for breakfast and then worked our way back, to see all the animals as they were coming out for the morning.  We made a stop at the bat house and playground, and then headed out the front gate just as long lines were starting to form.

10:30 a.m.
 The next stop was This is the Place Heritage Park just across the street from the zoo.  After panning for gold and trading it in at the bank, attending school, and checking out some of the other sites we were off again.

12:00 a.m.
The Lion House Pantry is in the heart of downtown and is a definite do not miss on the connect pass.    The menu is different every day, and we loved the chicken, salmon and desserts.

1:00 p.m.
A fun surprise for the day was the Museum of Natural History and was especially loved by our older kids.  Unfortunatley the doors are now closed on the old museum as they are moving to a new building.  It will be open again in later 2011.


The children's museum, Discovery Gateway, was a great way to spend the afternoon.  There are attractions and activities for kids of all ages, but our favorites were the food market, stage(complete with curtains and costumes), the news station TV set, and the life flight helicopter on the roof.   The Gateway offers great restaurants,  shopping and the fabulous fountains for the kids.

6:00 p.m.
Our day ended on a good note at the Clark Planetarium.  The lobby alone is highly entertaining with three story maze full of balls, marble, lights, bells and whistles.  We checked out the moonscape, and caught a night time show and then called it a day.

Day 2
9:00 a.m.
Saturday started with a trip up the canyon to the Utah Olympic Park.  We watched a few ski jumpers in action before we were treated to a tour.  The kids sat at the top of the ski jumps and bobsled run and were amazed to learn what goes into the winter sports that they usually only see on a TV screen.  The museum offered a close up look at props and memorabilia from the ceremonies and interactive winter sports exhibits.

1:00 p.m.
The trip down the canyon included a picnic lunch at the park before we drove to the Snowbird Ski Resort.  Yes, it is also an amazing place to go in the spring, summer and fall.  The connect pass includes a tram ride for striking mountain views.  If time allows, look into the hiking trails down the mountain.  The resort would also be a great place to spend the night especially if there are off season deals.

3:00 p.m.
After the awesome views from above it was time to check out life under the sea at the Living Planet Aquarium.   Both the small and the tall loved petting the sting rays and laughing at the penguins before the adventure continued on.

6:00 p.m.
The evening started with swinging past our favorite burger stop for dinner as we headed to our last destination, Thanksgiving Point.  The connect pass includes admissions to both the Gardens and the Museum of Ancient Life.  As the sun set, the kids raced and played in the never ending fun of the Children's Garden and the last hour of the day was spent in total happiness at the sand and water table in the museum.

We only made it to ten of the thirteen attractions offered through the connect pass.  We would also love to see the Tracey Aviary, Red Butte Gardens, and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.  Lucky for us, spring break is coming, so we will see you there.

For a little vacation and big adventure check out the city pass for a city near you.

Monday, February 7, 2011

soft sugar cookies

I love soft sugar cookies and we love to use cookie cutters at our house.  Here is my favorite recipe for soft sugar cookies.

1 Cup Butter
2 Cups of Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Sour Cream (or Plain Yogurt)
 About 5 1/2 -  6 Cups of flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and sour cream.  I tried using yogurt instead of sour cream this last time I made them and they were still really yummy.  Combine all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and them slowly add to butter mixture.  Mix until it forms a soft dough and then chill for about 1-2 hours.  I usually break the dough in half and freeze half for another day.  The whole recipe makes about 4 cookie sheets full depending of the size of cookie cutters you use.  

Roll out (not to thin) and cut into shapes.  Bake at 350 for about 8-10 minutes.  I cook them just until the bottom of the cookies start to turn golden.  If you over cook them that will not be as soft.  We usually eat half the pan warm out of the oven with milk but some still last long enough to be frosted.  

 We used chocolate  and sprinkles on these.  I just melted semi sweet chocolate chips in the microwave and then put them in a baggie and cut off one of the corners to squeeze it out.  I know I am a little crazy but I am not a big fan of really sweet frosting but I do love cream cheese frosting with these.  Hope you like them.   

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

fuzzy fleece headband

You have all seen the cute crocheted or knitted headbands.  Here is my version of something similar if you are like me and still learning to crochet but you are not so great yet.  These are made out of a single layer of fleece and they are very easy.  They could be made even without a sewing a machine.

First measure the head that you are making this for.  For my girls I started with a strip of fleece about 17x3 in.  For an adult, mine were about 20x3 in.  Make sure when you cut the strip that the stretch of the fabric goes around the head.  I then tapered the ends about 4 inches in and then just sew the ends together.  I did use a sewing machine for this but this could easily be hand sewn.  You can then turn it right side out and embellish with a flower, bow, heart, monogram, or whatever you can think of.   Fleece or knit will not fray so I just left the edges unfinished and it turned out great.  I like them because they are light enough to where all day.

1. For the flower I started with a strip about 9x3in.  I then cut 1 inch off to use for the center of the flower.
2. Take the 9x2in strip and fold it into accordion style so that you have 5 layers.
3. Round the top edge with your scissors.
4.  I should look like this when you unfold it.
5.Take a needle and thread and stitch along the bottom and then gather it up into a flower.
6. Connect the two ends to complete the flower.  Use the 1in. strip, tie the end in a knot, and roll it up for the center (use could also use a button).  Stitch it on to the headband.

I made myself a brown and black one. 

And we needed a valentine one.
Some for mom, some for my girls, and a couple for a new little one to be coming soon.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

be mine

Valentines Day is not to far off so why not get started with this fun project. I saw this and just had to share. This would dress up any Valentines Dinner and have your family talking.
Thanks to the Girls at the DIY Dish for sharing this fun idea. Not only for Valentines Day but what about other holidays as well. The possibilities are endless. I can't wait to start on mine.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

creamy chicken taquitos

Try something New and Yummy this week. My kids loved them! I doubled the recipe to make alot, needless to say they also freeze well and make a great sack lunch.

Creamy Chicken Taquitos:
1/3 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup green salsa
1 tbs lime juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. granulated garlic
3 tbs chopped cilantro
2 tbs chopped green onions
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I used canned)
1 cup grated pepper jack cheese
6-inch corn or flour tortillas
Nonstick cooking spray

Heat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it lightly with cooking spray.

Heat cream cheese in the microwave 20-30 sec. so it's soft and easy to stir. Add green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic. Stir to combine and then add cilantro, green onions, chicken and pepper jack cheese.

Place 2 tbs. of the chicken mixture on the lower third of each tortilla, keeping to about half inch from the edges, and then roll up. Place seam-side down on the baking sheet in a single layer. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray. Place pan in the oven and bake for 15-20 min or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown. Cool 5 min and then serve with sour cream, salsa, guacamole or pico de gallo.

Left Overs : Put left overs in a Ziploc and store in the fridge up to a week. Reheat by placing them on a baking sheet and cook for 10 min at 400.

Freezer Instructions: Place unbaked taquitos in a single layer of a baking sheet and place in the freezer for  2 hours or until frozen enough to hold their shape. Pack in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. To bake, follow the same instructions, thaw or extend the baking time by 10 min.

I love this recipe! New Family Favorite ant our house. I found it in LDS Living mag. and made a few minor adjustments. Thanks LDS Living for inspiring me to try something New.

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