Dad and Daughter Time

Leading up to Nikki getting pregnant I always wanted a boy. Someone to carry on the family name. Something happened after Nikki gave me the news that she was pregnant. A light went off, really. From there on out all I wanted was a healthy baby. My second thought was…”definitely a girl”.

Nikki is out of town this week for work leaving me as Mr. Mom. Nora and I have gone on a run, played with every toy in the house, crawled all over and I watch her pull herself up on everything and try to walk (scary). Every night around 7:30 we wind down with a story or two and some food before I put her to bed (successfully, knock on wood).

Backtracking a little…Nora and I were able to spend 45 minutes immediately after she was born alone in the hospital room. 45 minutes felt like an entire day and I will remember every minute. I am a terrible singer, really not such a good voice. Give me a few adult pops and a couple of my closest friends and WE WILL take down a Karaoke bar, but I’m pretty bad. During my 45 minutes with Nora I felt the urge to sing to her (Hey Jude, in fact). It probably calmed me down more than it did her but it was comforting nonetheless.

Back to realtime. I tend to put Nora down by cradling her and singing to her after she eats. This is one of the best parts of any day. I don’t like when Nikki leaves but being able to look down and see my 8 month old daughter look back to me and need me is a father’s dream come true.

Love you Nora…come home soon Nikki!

Cheers,

Ben

BBQ Mac and Cheese

No matter where we live, I will always get Southern Living magazine. I love southern houses (especially ones with wrap around porches), southern food, southern charm – all of it! Equally, I love macaroni and cheese. It’s a love affair that has developed from the boxed kind to the “fancy” mac and cheese you see everywhere in restaurants.

The September issue of Southern Living (yes, I’m behind!) gave a few recipes for upgrades to your traditional mac and cheese. We did not follow this recipe verbatim but took inspiration and made it our own. Pics from the magazine version of the recipe are at bottom of this post. For some reason I couldn’t find online…must want you to buy the magazine! 🙂

And here is our take on it based on what we had available in our fridge and pantry. So easy, delicious and different!

BBQ Mac and Cheese

BBQ Mac n Cheese

  • 1 pound Ground Beef (we used 85/15)
  • 1 box of Rotini Noodles (we used Healthy Harvest Whole Grain)
  • 1 package of cheddar cheese (we used Sargento Mild Cheddar)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • BBQ style seasoning (we used Savory Spice shop‘s Red Rocks Hickory Smoke Seasoning)
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • BBQ Sauce (we used Stubbs)
  1. Start out by browning the ground beef in a large skillet. Sprinkle the seasoning across the top of the beef. Drain and return beef to skillet. (5-8 minutes)
  2. Follow the directions on the package of pasta to boil the pasta past the al dente stage (or to your preference). We made the whole box of pasta. (10 minutes)
  3. Microwave 1/2 cup milk for 20-30 seconds. Pour into skillet with beef and mix together over medium low heat.
  4. Sprinkle cheese liberally across the beef. Mix together.
  5. Add pasta to skillet and mix together. Add another layer of cheese.
  6. Move all ingredients to 9×13 glass casserole dish. Sprinkle Panko bread crumbs across top to your liking. Add a few more pinches of the seasoning to the top.
  7. Broil for 2-5 minutes or until the panko bread crumbs have cooked.
  8. Serve warm with BBQ sauce drizzled on top and enjoy!

Cheers,

Nikki and Ben

Magazine Clip from Southern Living, September 2015

SouthernLiving Mac and Cheese IMG_8814

What a year already

Nikki last posted in February highlighting her crafty side. As always, she did a great job. Looking back on those last 5-6 months got me thinking how much has changed for us for the better. Everyone says to not load up on major life events all at the same time but we clearly don’t listen to that nonsense.

In January we moved back home to Colorado (life event #1), I guess we need to update the site every now and then. I continued working for Learfield Sports but was able to return to our Alma Mater at Colorado State (life event #2). Shortly after we moved back home we bought a house (life event #3) in a great part of town that was exactly what we wanted. Fast forward to June 8th and we had Nora (life event #4).

It has been hard to articulate properly how all of these changes have affected our lives. We constantly tell people that we love being home and that having and raising our baby girl is great and special and wonderful but that still doesn’t really capture what we feel toward all these new life changes.

For me – I am home, I am happy and I am whole.

Cheers

Ben

DIY: Countdown to Becoming Grandparents Sign

I am of the slightly crafty kind. I appreciate the folks that have beautiful handwriting and work on large projects, but I’m just not there. I have great ideas, but they don’t always pan out to be what the intended project was.This project is an example of me going to the store with something different in mind but going with what I found. I’m still proud of it!

When Ben and I announced that we were pregnant to our families we thought that we were going to be having and raising (at least short-term) our baby in Fresno. The news then of course came that Ben was being transferred to CSU and we’d be closer to our families. This gift works both for near and far families and is a fun way to include grandparents-to-be on the countdown to your baby.

This project was very easy to accomplish and is still in the crafty DIY category. Go get ’em!

Magnetic Chalkboard Sign: Countdown to Becoming Grandparents

2014-12-18 16.34.572014-12-18 16.34.40

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 magnetic chalkboard with wooden framing (can find at JoAnns or Michaels)
  • 1 small roll of Washi tape with design of your choice
  • 1 medium thickness paper (print using your favorite font)
  • Baby focused scrapbook items of your choice
  • 1 roll of magnets that can be cut to a specific size
  • Scissors and/or cutting board

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  1. First, you’ll start by taking the Washi tape and applying it to the wooden border around the chalkboard. Cut and fold as necessary to make smooth lines.
    1.  2014-12-13 08.47.112014-12-13 08.47.18
  2. Then you’ll print off your words and numbers. I have attached the template that I used. Make sure you make at least two 1’s and two 2’s (and potentially two 3’s depending when you gift these to your parents) as I made this error first time through the project. I recommend practicing on regular printer/copier paper to make sure your sizing is right for your board and that there is appropriate space between items.
    1. 0  1  1  2   2  3  3  4  5  6  7  8  9
    2. weeks until we’re grandparents!
    3. 2014-12-13 15.48.12
  3. Then you’ll cut out each of the numbers and words. Make sure the ink has had time to dry.
    1. 2014-12-13 15.48.18
  4. Once you have these cut out you will measure the magnet roll tape to the back of each item and cut the roll so it covers the majority of the paper without sticking out over the edges. You will need to press down to ensure they stick together.
    1. 2014-12-18 16.35.18
  5. Put magnets on the back of your chosen scrapbook items (baby rattle, baby bottle, rocking horse, carriage, teddy bear, Boy or Girl, etc.)
  6. We did not provide a hanging attachment on the back of the frame as both of our parents have set it up without. If you know your parents will hang it up, you can add the appropriate fixture to the back and/or add ribbon for the hanging items.
  7. You’re done! Gift your item with pride and let the grandparents-to-be enjoy the countdown to your little bundle of joy!

Cheers, Nikki

Grandparent Countdown Word document template

Adventures in the Kitchen: Coconut Curry Chicken Tacos

Tacos have been a fun adventure food for us since we moved to California…we’ve dabbled a little with fish tacos, traditional beef and chicken tacos…every time we attempt a new ingredient and see what works best. We may just have stumbled upon our favorite of the bunch…Coconut Curry chicken tacos with quinoa, cherry tomatoes, fresh sliced avocado and salsa verde on Mission brand Corn and Whole Wheat tortilla…pretty long winded but long on taste too!

Image

Coconut Curry Chicken Tacos

Serves 4 – Prep Time 40 Minutes, Cook Time 15 Minutes

2 chicken breasts and 2 chicken tenders (we use the package from Costco)

Coconut Oil

Curry Powder

Cayenne Pepper Seasoning

1 Large Avocado

Handful of Cherry Tomatoes

Mission Corn & Whole Wheat Blend tortillas

Quinoa (brand does not matter here, but we used plain)

Herdez Verde Salsa (or your favorite brand)

Mexican Shredded Cheese

  1. Slice chicken breasts into smaller pieces, about the same size as the tenders in the package. You’ll get about 8-10 strips from this.
  2. Take 2 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil and coat the chicken. Add Curry Powder and Cayenne Pepper seasoning to taste preference. Both are bold flavors, keep this in mind. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Prepare quinoa based on package instructions. We made 1/2 cup of quinoa for this. This will take about 10 minutes.
  4. Slice cherry tomatoes into quarters and avocados into square chunks.
  5. Heat grill to “High” and place chicken directly on heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, allowing the chicken to get a good sear on it. Remove chicken and cover with aluminum foil for 5 minutes. Chop chicken into thin small pieces
  6. Heat tortillas on a griddle. Each side should start to bubble slightly, but don’t leave long enough to crisp. Once both sides have been warmed, add shredded cheese to melt on the tortilla. (Trust us on this one).
  7. Assemble! Tortilla, Quinoa, Chicken, Avocado, Tomato, Verde Salsa.

Enjoy and let us know if you have any other ideas for taco recipes.

Cheers, Ben and Nikki

Here’s to you, TJ French

It was probably In between a game of NCAA Baseball 2006 or an episode of the Gilmore Girls or during a CSU tailgate or a sorority function that my good friend, TJ, decided to impart some wisdom onto me:

“Let the bridges you burn, light the way”

The bridges that you have incinerated burned have obviously led you to something special and we could not be happier to be celebrating with you and Amanda this weekend.

Andre Iguodala…Transformative…?

I’m not bitter by Andre leaving the Nuggets. He had all the right to leave. He turned down more money. He wanted to play with players he liked and a coach that appreciated his talents. He was a free agent and he was traded to the Nuggets. He did not sign here under his own accord. But…there a few things that I can’t stop thinking about in the weeks that have gone by…

As we’ve heard in the media, he participated in Chapel with the Warriors players during the playoffs and it doesn’t take a blind man to see that he was the narc in the Curry-Gate drama. Iguodala didn’t quit on the Nuggets, in fact, he played the best ball of the year in that series. I knew, though, from the time I saw him chumming around with Mark Jackson that his time with the Nuggets was limited. You can’t force a player to play somewhere he doesn’t want to be and isn’t contractually obligated to be.

I hope the Warriors understand what exactly they are getting though. While Iggy was mere hours away from joining the Mavs he always wanted to play with the Warriors. I can see that a few things here were true: 1. He didn’t want to play for the Nuggets (boo hoo), 2. He wanted the money over the location.

Warriors fans are pumped. They should be after all. ESPN and other networks have led them to  believe that Iggy is a star…a superstar even. You SHOULD always listed to ESPN and SHOULD always watch SportsCenter every morning…

Iggy’s PPG the last 6 years has gone from 19.9 to 13…his PER (player efficiency rating) has dropped from 18.8 to 15.2. His steals have gone down and assists and rebounds have stayed relatively similar. Field Goal % has gone up and down, three point % has done the same (Iggy is an awful shooter but is streaky as he showed in the playoffs)…The most telling sign of his decline as a scorer and “transformative” player would be his Free Throw % dropping from 72% to the AWFUL 57.5 % that it was last year. Teams can’t rely on a 57% free throw shooter in the playoffs (Iggy will be on the bench more often than not in crunch time minutes).

But I get the he “fits” in with the Warriors. They have young shooters. They run a fast-paced offense that gets “up and down the court.” Iggy is going to cause a few problems but the worst problem of all is who he will send to the bench. If I am a Warriors fan (and I’ve been a Nuggets fan my whole life) I am worried about sitting Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes in favor of someone who can’t shoot (because they both can). Do they move to a “Stretch 4” with Barnes starting at Power Forward…I can’t see this being a fit. Iggy’s defensive skills have also been greatly exaggerated. He’s a great help defender and he’s long enough to clog the passing lanes but an on-ball defender he is not anymore. Providing advanced statistics and video footage would be pointless…the Warriors will be on TNT and ESPN enough this year, just watch them.

The Nuggets finally avoided a headache in Free Agency (see past headaches Nene and Arron Afflalo) and did not have to pay market price for a player that they did not want. 57 wins is a long way off and ALL Nuggets fans should be patient with this team. Between Evan Fournier, Erick Green and Jordan Hamilton we have young talent that can help contribute and grow. Brian Shaw turned Lance Stevenson into a serviceable player and he’s a lunatic unstable. The Nuggets have been on everyone’s “least improved list” this summer and it is probably warranted for now. However, this must be taken in context. Were the Nuggets automatic contenders with Iggy? Was he the ‘transformative’ player that would have made the difference? The Nuggets weren’t going to win a title with Iggy and we’re better off without him.

Spending $14 million per year for a 33 year old who can’t shoot or play perimeter D anymore is a risk that I am glad that the Nuggets don’t have to take.