Throwback Thursday: Remembering 9/11

If you've been following my blog for the last year, its no secret that I have fallen in love with New York City. I love the people, the energy, the diversity, the food. Don't get me wrong, its a totally crazy place to live; but its also the best ever.

One of the places I was able to visit several times while living in New York was the 9/11 Memorial. If you've never done this, it is at the top of my list of must dos. I remember the first time we ventured down there. I was a little hesitant to go because I didn't really want to relive the thoughts and feelings I had as a young girl watching those buildings burn. But I immediately felt a change as I stepped foot on that hallowed ground. It is an overwhelmingly bittersweet experience.

I vividly remember watching the events unfold on television. As you walk through the neighborhood, you see street names and images you recognize from the news, and the scenes come flooding back into your mind. I immediately felt sick because I could see the people running from the building, the air thick with dust and debris, sirens whaling and people screaming.  I remember (or maybe imagined) a woman pushing a stroller, just like me. And I was brought to tears imagining how helpless and scary it would be. The world was literally coming crashing down around them, and all they could do was run.

There is a wall that is dedicated to the firefighters and police officers who lost their lives saving others. What heroic souls! I cannot even image what courage it would have taken to turn around and run back into the burning buildings. September 11, 2001 was the greatest single loss of rescue personnel in American History. While that is devastating, just imagine how many lives were saved because of those brave men and women. It's humbling that they were willing to make that sacrifice.

As I approached the site I was feeling somber and sick (and frankly scared.) But then the city fades away and this huge plaza opens up. Its full of trees and the sound of rushing water. The plaza is made up of two enormous reflecting pool waterfalls that sit in the original footprints of the twin towers. There are over 400 trees surrounding the waterfalls, many harvested from areas in Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania that were also attacked. There is one tree that is roped off and protected which is called The Survivor Tree. It was discovered in the rubble of Ground Zero, severely damaged and burned. They removed it from the site and it was cared for and replanted in 2010. It is now thriving in its original home. How miraculous!

The names of each individual lost are etched into the sides of the reflecting pools. Our most recent visit was in May while Zack's family was in town. We arrived just as the sun was going down and we were able to watch as the names began to light up and glisten in the darkness. Although the memorial is right in the middle of the hustling bustling Financial District of Lower Manhattan, the waterfalls and rustling leaves drown out the city noise and allow peace and serenity at the memorial.  The grand plaza proves that not only will we never forget, but we will always honor those who lost their lives.

While wandering the memorial, you look up and see a magnificent new building. The new One World Trade center is truly breathtaking and it quickly became my favorite building in the city.  Not only does it represent New York City as an icon in the skyline, but it represents America's rebirth from the ashes. We didn't just come back. We came back bigger, stronger, and more magnificent. It will always stand as a message to our enemies. You can try to break us down, but we will always rebuild and we will always overcome!

The resilience that New York City and America have shown since the attacks on September 11, 2001 makes me so proud to be an American and a temporary New Yorker. It is my prayer that America continues to grow and evolve, seeking to spread freedom, and working towards peace. I'm so glad we get to take Gunner here, to teach him about what happened, why it happened, and what it means to be an American. After all, our little ones are the future of America.

What are you memories from that day? How do you honor those who lost their lives for
our freedom?



Mixed Berry Mini Pies

So I posted this picture on Instagram today and I had a ton of recipe requests. So, I figured I might as well do a quick write up and share one of my absolute favorite recipes.

I got these awesome little pie tins from Williams Sonoma, you can find them here, or here. Ever since their maiden voyage mini pies have been Zack's first choice for desserts. Normally, I hesitate because pie crust. Don't get me wrong, I love love love homemade pie crust, and when time permits I prefer to make it. But, when you want an amazing treat in less than 4 hours, store bought pie crust is a heaven send! It's actually delicious and so easy to use. (Zack might like it better than my homemade.) You can find it in the refrigerator section near the cookie dough. It will look like this.

In case you want to do it the old fashion way I'll include my pie crust recipe as well!

1 1/4 Cup   AP Flour
1 1/2 Tbsp  Sugar
1/2  tsp       Salt
1/2 Cup      Butter (Cold, like almost frozen)
4-6 Tbsp     Ice Water

Filling (Inspired by Martha)
16-20 oz     Your favorite berries
1/4 Cup      Sugar
1 1/2 TB     Cornstarch
Juice of 1    Lemon

Topping (Inspired by this)
1/2 Cup     AP Flour
1/2 Cup     Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp      Cinnamon
5 Tbsp      Butter (Cold, like almost frozen)

The lifesaver with pie crust and the topping is a KitchenAid or Food Processor. In culinary school we cut the butter into the flour by hand, but honestly.. ain't NOBODY got time for that.

Make sure your butter is really cold, then cut it into little cubes and throw it in with the dry ingredients. Mix on Medium to High until tiny clumps appear, about the size of peas. While it's mixing fill a cup with ice and then pour water over the ice. Once the butter/flour mixture is ready, (if you're using the food processor remove the blade) add the ice water one tablespoon at a time and mix with your hands. When you get to around 4 TB (depending on the humidity in the room) the dough should start to stick together so you can form a ball in your hand. Its important not to add too much water. Form the dough into a disk shape and refrigerate for at least an hour. Once its rested and cold, roll out to desired thickness and cut out circles for your pans. (Or just make one big pie right?) To measure for the little tins I turn one upside down and cut about 1/4-1/2 inch around the rim. Spray pie tins and make sure you press into the scallops.

Throw everything in a bowl and mix gently. Scoop into prepared pie tins. There should be enough that it forms something of a mound.

Cut butter into cubes. Throw into dry ingredients and mix on high until it becomes crumbly yummy looking topping. It will mix longer than the pie crust. Sprinkle on top of berries. (You'll want it to fully cover the filling)

Place the pies on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes. The fruit filling should be bubbling, the topping should be crispy and slightly golden. Allow to cool (or eat it piping hot with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream on top.)

I wish I had more pictures of the process, but I didn't plan on writing about it. I'll take more next time! I hope you get a chance to make these and enjoy these as much as we did!

P.S. If you're a pinner, I'd love for you to pin this recipe!


Welcome to Connecticut

We made it.

The journey to get here was nothing short of pandemonium/miraculous, but we made it.  I now have a new, deeper understanding of Murphy's Law. Things I didn't even worry about going wrong, went wrong. Most of the things I can look back on and laugh about now that we are here.

Here's a quick run down of all the chaos and all the miracles.
The keys to our new car disappeared a few days before it was supposed to be picked for shipment. We figured they would turn up eventually before we sent it, but no such luck. Thankfully, I found a valet key so we could still drive it and send it. Zack's passport and entire wallet were both lost within 24 hours of our flight. We literally had to use our car title, check book, and marriage certificate as identification to get him through security. Have you ever heard of anything like that?? It was insane. Because we spent an extra hour searching for his wallet (it had fallen out of his pocket at the movie theater the night before) we arrived at the airport just 45 minutes before our plane was supposed to depart. We made it through check-in and security (where everything we own was searched because Zack didn't have proper identification) in time to not be the last people on the plane. Second to last is better than last right?

After an exhausting morning I was not so excited to wrestle a very rambunctious 18 month old on the plane for 4 1/2 hours. Miraculously, about an hour into the flight, he sprawled out across both Zack and I and slept ever so peacefully for a solid 2 1/2 hours and then happily sat snuggled Dad and watched Despicable Me. It was truly a tender mercy.

Zack's new job had arranged for a driver to pick us up at the airport to take us to a friends house we'd be staying with the first night. As the driver greeted us he asked how we were doing. I told him it had been quite a rough day. His response, and I quote, "Well it might not be getting any better. There's no way all your stuff is going to fit in my car." Fabulous. Zack happens to be a master at loading cars and I am always amazed at the amount of stuff he can maneuver into a trunk. He was up for the challenge. Miraculously, it all fit (with room to spare.) We didn't even have to bury ourselves in the back seat.

Once we arrived at our friends' house we were starving and decided to take advantage of our time in NYC and grab a slice. After all, pizza may be what I've missed most about living here (just kidding, kind of!) We ran into some friends from church at the pizza place. It was nice to just sort of take our mind off all the crazy and catch up with friends.

Uncle Joe taught Gunner how to play a drum. 

We had several friends planning to meet us at our storage unit to help us load everything into a U-Haul. Unfortunately, we hadn't thought to reserve a truck before hand. Of course, they were all booked up. As we started to weigh some other options (such as just give up) the U-haul worker came out to tell us he had moved some things around and found a truck for us. Hallelujah! Now all we had to do was remember the combination to the lock on our storage unit. Of course, we had no idea, and the paper to remind us was tucked safely into Zack's wallet, which was in the mail on its way to our new place in Connecticut. Zack's brother in law, Scott, had gone to the theater, found the wallet, and overnighted it to us. The only thing missing when he found it was $120 cash (cries). When we couldn't find anything to break the lock, the U-haul people offered to use the bolt cutters.  The six or seven strong guys made quick work of loading the truck and we were on our way to Connecticut in no time. Side note: Zack couldn't drive the truck because he didn't have a drivers license to show the U-Haul people, and therefore he wouldn't be covered if he wrecked it. Thankfully, our dear friend Alberto was willing to drive it up for us.

Our friends, Angel and Ermelin, also drove up with us to help us unpack and get settled. I was so excited to pull into our driveway. We were finally home. The guys started unloading the truck and when I got inside we realized the gas and electric were not turned on. We have never moved into an apartment where these were not turned on. We've always just had to call within a few days to have it switched to our name. But nope. Not here. No power. No gas. We called all of the companies in the area and NO ONE was open on Saturday. We spent the afternoon unpacking; Thankfully, Ermelin is like an organizational guru. We unpacked every box, rolled out all our rugs and made the bed.

We decided to stay with our friends in the Bronx again so we didn't have to live in darkness and take cold showers. The next day was Sunday and Zack and Gunner went to visit our old ward, and I went to Brooklyn to spend the day with Ellen who was sick. It was so great to spend the day with her and Zack and Gunner loved seeing friends. It was great to take our mind off things and it really made us realize that we aren't alone out here. We've had so many friends go out of their way to help us and we couldn't be more thankful. It was really really difficult for us to leave our families in Utah, but I've been overwhelmed by all the friendships and connections we have out here!

We came back up to our place on Sunday because Zack had to be at work on Monday morning. I woke up at 7 am to call the gas and electric companies first thing. We were able to get electric turned on that afternoon, but the gas company couldn't come out until Friday. So we took cold showers for five days and weren't able to cook or use our stove or oven for anything. Luckily we are all set up with gas, electric, and internet. All we are waiting for  is our furniture and boxes from Utah. The moving company made a mistake and now our stuff will be here a whole week later than their estimation. That will be a solid 21 days without most of our clothes, Gunner's crib, most his toys, our couch, table, chairs, dishes, pots and pans, ect. Thankfully we had our mattress, rugs, and few odds and ends in our storage unit out here. Mostly I'm just sick of sitting on the floor or our bed for everything (Nothing like eating dinner in bed.) Gunner has not been a big fan of the cold baths or sitting on the floor. But I really think he loves having his own room. This is the first time in his life he has had his own room. Its a great thing!

Priceline has taken such good care of us to get us here and Zack seems to be thriving at work. Gunner and I have already made some friends! Our new ward at church is great and filled with kids his age (something like 24 kids in nursery). I'm slowly, but surely, getting to know the area and freeways and grocery stores. There are a few parks that we can walk to and an aquarium and kids museum we haven't explored yet. Not to mention we're less than a block from the river so theres a beautiful view just about anywhere we walk.

I've moved a million times and never experienced so much opposition. Have any of you had an experience like this? How did you deal?  Regardless of everything that has happened and all the setbacks, I know that there are good things ahead for us. I'm choosing to believe this is a case of, "Nothing worth having comes easy" or the storm before the calm" (Is that even a thing?) Anyone have other good quotes or scriptures relating? I'm always in need of more inspiration. Please share!! Thinking about the experience as a whole, I can't help but laugh because its unbelievable that we still made it and and somehow we're still standing, and we're still smiling.

I've thought a lot about moving forward with this blog and what I'll focus on. What are your thoughts? I know I don't have the sights of New York to rely on, but Gunner and I will continue our adventures in Connecticut. What do you want to hear about? I'd like to write about my journey as a mom and I really want this blog to be a record of how Gunner is growing and changing. I've been dying to share some of my favorite recipes, but I'm not sure this is the right forum. Anyways, I'm excited to get back into the swing of things with blogging.

Thanks for reading! Please share any advice or inspiration in the comments!


A Day in Brooklyn (a month late)

Last month Gunner and I had the funnest day with our friends the Leal's (she blogs over at Cooking Hat) in Brooklyn. I don't know why its taken me so long to sit down and weed through my 500 pictures from the day and write about it.

We had planned to go see the Cherry Blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, but literally one tree had just barely started to bloom, so we decided to postpone that outing and hit the Brooklyn Children's Museum. I feel like I've been to a lot of children's museums in my life; but taking Gunner was like a whole new experience. He was in HEAVEN. It's like everything in there was built and catered to children. Oh wait. That's exactly what it is. Genius.

I'm convince I gestated, birthed, and am now raising a fish. This boy lives for the water. Bathtime is by far his favorite time and I always have to wrestle that squishy slippery nakey body when its time to get out. He will even put his face in the water, just to see what happens. Amazing? Reckless? Maybe a little of both. But my point is, this boy was in heaven with all the water features at this place.

They even had a 5 & under play area with a big water table. Gunner was hysterical. I just couldn't bare to be a kill joy and deny him the thrill of splashing to his heart's content. By the time we left he was completely drenched and (bonus) exhausted.

^^ Ally may have been a little less than amused by Gunner's antics ^^
^^ Look at those baby blues! ^^

We left the museum and walked a few blocks to grab some pizza. I'm so unpredictable with my food choices aren't I? (Side note: I suggested pizza the other day and Zack said he was "burnt out on pizza". Excuse me?!? When you live in the city with the best pizza on Earth how do you get burnt out on pizza?? I can't even imagine a time in my life when I wouldn't want to eat a slice of pizza. insanity.)

So we grabbed a pie and Gunner was completely comatose in his stroller. I feel like one of the greatest feelings as a mother is when my kid is so exhausted from playing hard and having too much fun that he just drifts to sleep in his stroller. The fun induced slumber is a much deeper and sweeter sleep I think. Surrounded by friends, with a belly full of pizza, and a well-rested baby, it may have been the most content I had felt in a while.

We drove over to Park Slope, which is the dreamiest of all neighborhoods. It's like old and historic looking, but also really hip and modern. I know it doesn't make any sense, but if I could choose one neighborhood in New York City to live in, if money weren't an issue, I think it might be Park Slope. We walked over to a look out/boardwalk type thing to admire the city.

I think one of the reasons I love Brooklyn so much is because of the view of Manhattan's skyline.You look out across the East River and the bridges and skyscrapers are breathtaking. Its this really strange paradox of being in the city while admiring it from afar. Its like having your cake and eating it to.

I will say that Gunner takes playing at the park very seriously. He is very focussed on climbing stairs, sliding slides, and most importantly observing the other children. But every once in a while, I'll catch just a glimpse of a smile on his lips as he slides. It doesn't last long, and it rarely gets caught on camera. The first time I took him to the park I wasn't sure he was even having fun because there was no smiling or laughing as I'd imagined. But as soon as I put him in his stroller to go home all hell broke loose. It wasn't that he wasn't having fun, he just takes his fun very seriously, like his dad. And I'm okay with that.

As Gunner has grown and become more of a toddler than a baby, it has been extra sweet to see him learning about friendship. He is so in love with the Leal girls. Everytime he sees them he lights up and runs to them. Watching him and Ally play at this park together was precious. I dread the day we have to say goodbye to them. The Leal family has become some of our closest friends. They have been such an amazing support and positive force in our lives. We will forever be grateful for their friendship and I know that we'll hang on to them forever.


P.S. Check out Ermelin's awesome blog over at COOKING HAT!!

P.P.S. Read about our other adventures in Brooklyn HERE!