Sunday, January 22, 2012

A few more highlights…

… and must-sees we hit before we said ta-ta to Beijing.

Temple of Heaven


Like the Dome of the Rock, but in China and not Muslim. Believe it or not, it is bigger than the Forbidden City. But smaller than the Summer Palace with an area of about 2,700,000 square meters. The Temple was built in 1420 A.D. during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifice to Heaven. As Chinese emperors called themselves 'The Son of Heaven,'  they dared not to build their own dwelling, 'Forbidden City' bigger than a dwelling for Heaven.

Tiananmen Square


The Summer Palace




The Summer palace of some emperor in some dynasty. Yes, I stopped trying to keep track. It is the largest and most well-preserved royal park in China, even bigger in the Forbidden Palace. If that is possible. It greatly influences Chinese horticulture and landscape with its famous natural views and cultural interests, which also has long since been recognized as 'The Museum of Royal Gardens'.

Rickshaw Tour



Drum Tower




Ahhhh. Beijing. You were fun and exciting, and really, a dream come true. But now it is time to good-bye.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

oven-baked chicken fajitas

This is one recipe I want to rave about. I love fajitas, but I’ve don’t make them because I was under the impression that they were difficult to make. False. Wrong. Huge misconception. This recipe is E-Z.


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 large bell pepper, seeded and sliced (I use half a green and half a red)
  • 12 flour tortillas
  • Toppings such as cheese, sour cream, and guacamole – if desired
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken strips in a greased 13×9 baking dish.
  2. In a small bowl combine the oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, dried oregano, and salt
  3. Drizzle the spice mixture over the chicken and stir to coat.
  4. Next add the tomatoes, chilies, peppers, and onions to the dish and stir to combine.
  5. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Serve on tortillas with desired toppings.

I’m serious. De-lish.

PS. Oh yeah and one other thing I decided to do in 2012 is…

16.  Plan 12 parties/get-togethers/fiestas/events. I got started and planned something last Sunday. Check. Eleven more to go.  

Monday, January 16, 2012

as previously mentioned…

2012 has a lot to live up to. So I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about what I can do to make 2012 a good year. And I finally came up with some things. Here are a few.

  1. Visit 12 places I have never visited before. Yes, this is open to anything. In or out of the country. If I make it out of the country, fantastic. But if I don't, due to funding, that is okay. There are plenty of places around here or within 300 miles that I have never been to and would to see. (ie. Bryce Canyon, Cabelas)
  2. Make 12 new recipes. I know. Not to difficult for me. But I want a few things that are easily accomplish-able. I will add they have to be recipes that I love and want to rave about.
  3. Meet 12 new people.  This shouldn't be too hard.
  4. Reconnect with 12 old people. So, if you have a random blast-from-the-past that looks a lot like me, you'll know why.
  5. Run 12 miles. All at one time. Maybe more than once. We’ll see.
  6. Learn 12 new skills. I didn't say perfect. But I will be learning.
  7. Learn 12 new things. Facts, events, cultures, history. The options are endless 
  8. Read the Book of Mormon 12 times. I thought of this one today. And felt this was a challenge I really should do. Then I realized I was already 15 days behind. I need to get going. 
  9. Read 12 books that I already own. Several times I have told myself that I am not allowed to buy any more books until I have read a few that I already own, but just like a child who goes out to play after hour of being grounded I come home with a new or used book.
  10. Read 12 nonfiction books. Double-dipping is completely legal. I own many unread nonfiction.
  11. Discover 12 new loves. For example on my mission I discovered I really like cilantro and lime. I always knew I liked football. This last year I realized it was true love. 
  12. Learn 12 new pieces on the piano.
  13. Finish 12 projects. This can include projects started this year or ones I started five years ago. Twelve will be done by the end of the year.
  14. Find 12 names to take to the temple. Yes.  Family history. It’s not just for old people.
  15. Look at this list at least 12 times.

There are a few others that were part of the brainstorm that I still trying to decide if I want to include, but this is a good start that covers my intellectual, social, physical, spiritual, emotional, creative, and culinary needs. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My good, old...

...Laptop of seven years has left me, taking the music, pictures, and documents with him. I don't know what I did to drive him off. I really did love him even though I may have had a hard time saying it. I guess he had had enough of me and my inability to settle down whenever I dragged him along wherever I went and told him this would be the last time. Or maybe it was the shortcuts I insisted on taking (control z was worn very thin). Could it have been my music I may of played too loud a time or two and the late night movies I just couldn't turn off until I knew what happened, or my unwillingness to compromise about where to store the goods such as documents, pictures, and music. I think the ultimate straw was the one-year-olds I let play around with him. Or he might have found out about my little affair with gigdet, the little netbook that went to school with me for two years. If only he understood that it really wasn't that serious and I always looked forward to coming home to him at the end of the day. I loved the way he warmed my lap and looked up at me at any angle. I could go repair shop and force him to come back to me, but I have decided to let him go and remember the better times we had together. Such as the first time we met in Maine when I was feeling lonely and cut off from everything familiar. He came to me and brought me back to the world. He stayed up late with me when I couldn't sleep. He didn't abandon me when I had procrastinated and had assignments due in the very near future. He supported me and my to need to create. I don't know if I will ever really be able to replace him. I will just have settle for what comes next. I will always miss him though.

**Updated. It would be just like me to figure out a way to fix my laptop and prevent myself from getting a new one. Yes. I did. Not entirely on purpose. But now the dilemma is: Do keep the one I already ordered? Or do I keep using my good old guy? I want to be faithful. But I was looking forward to fresh start. Which I can get anyway, because my hard drive was wiped clean and everything was set back to the original manufacture settings.  Ummm?

Thursday, January 5, 2012


has some very large shoes to fill. And a lot to live up to.











Really anything could happen. The good, the bad, the ugly. The doors are wide open. The way is clear. The options are endless. Bring on, and lets pray for, the adventures, the trials, the joys.