Monday, February 28, 2011

Sam ______

day 46

Sam runs like Phoebe on Friends.  I love it.

Sam is carrying a "J" today.  I have no idea why.

Sam is wearing Crocs.  At one point, Ben and I were both adamantly opposed to Crocs.

Sam loves them.

Sam hates socks.

Sam's shirt while darling, looks terrible up close.  The navy collar and arm bands bled when I washed it.  The yellow is kind of ugly green now in some spots.

Sam is wearing pants that are size 18 months.  Sam just turned 29 months last week.

I need to do laundry.

Sam used to ignore the camera.  REFUSED to look at it.  Now he poses and smiles.

Sam also runs towards me anytime he sees the camera in my hand.  Not because he loves me.  Because he wants to attack it.

Sam likes the numbers and the dials on the back.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ben Cookies

Not long after Ben and I started dating, I decided to make him some cookies.  Okay, I may have just baked some Otis Spunkmeyer dough and called it good.

Anyway,  I had to work that night at Ann Taylor in Park City so my cookies sat on the seat of my car waiting for me to get off work so I could deliver them to my new boyfriend.  Imagine my surprise when I got to his house and he had also made me cookies (such a one-upper sometimes).  He bit into one of my cookies and I think I heard a tooth break.  They were slightly frozen as it was winter in Utah.

Being the cute boy that he is, he said, "Oh! These are so good!  They're just like little clouds."


That day I vowed that I would never make him cookies again.  I even held to it for a year or two.  One of the reasons I held out is because Ben makes AMAZING Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.  They are famous in both of our families.  In fact, when we went home for Christmas, one of the first things my brother Kent said was, "Is Ben going to make some cookies while you're here?"

The reason every one loves them, is due to the fact that no one can duplicate them. Ben's dad worked on them all through his mission but they aren't quite the same.  Sorry Duane.  His siblings insist that there is a secret ingredient.  My attorney sister-in-law Kristy informed me that I have spousal privilege so I will not be addressing these claims.  Maybe at Ben's funeral, we will share all of the secrets of Ben cookies.  Or maybe we will pass the recipe on to Sam and it can be handed down father to son through the generations.Until then I will give you the recipe as printed our family cookbook, "In the Kitchen with Ben and Kristy"

Now I'm going to go eat one.  Or five.

day 45

Ben's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter
¾ cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl cream butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Add eggs and mix thoroughly. Combine the baking soda, salt, and flour and stir into creamed mixture. Add oatmeal and chocolate chips and stir until well blended. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 1 1-15 minutes.

NOTE:  I just noticed this recipe lists bitterweet chocolate chips.  I don't allow anything but milk chocolate in my kitchen so that's what we use.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Today Ben and I worked on building an end table.  Before you get too excited, I'm not posting pics.  Yet.  I'll give you a full photo breakdown when it is painted and residing in my living room.  Instead you are getting a photo of our very high quality (HA!) lumber.  I thought it was funny that both the wood and the muscle both came from Idaho.

day 44

You might be wondering why we are building a table.  First, I rearranged our living room and needed a new end table.  Our $10 Lack tables from IKEA have been abused by our two year old and it is time to send them to the IKEA in the sky.  Second, I had a very specific size of table in mind. Our couch and chair are super deep so I need something that would fit between them.  I really wanted something that was 35 inches x 35 inches standing at 18 inches.  Not an easy size to find. Third, my husband is a post-doc.  Not a super high paying position. I needed something somewhat cheap but sturdy.

I decided it was time to build one.  

My friend Shannon introduced me to a website about a year ago.

Ana, posts free plans for knock off designer furniture.  We decided to build the Square Farmhouse Table and cut the legs down to 18 inches. 

I'm thrilled with it.  As soon as it is painted I will post photos.  

If you are thinking about undertaking a similar project, I will share with you a couple of things we learned during the in the process.

Lesson #1: Make sure your boards are straight.  We bought white wood since this is our first project and I didn't want to ruin good lumber.  All in all, this has worked out fine.  A couple of the boards aren't super straight but for the most part I have been able to fix this with Lesson #2.

Lesson #2:  Buy an orbital sander.  I got an early birthday present to go with the eShakti dresses I ordered (that's a whole other post). I love love love my sander.  I foresee many projects in our future.  I evened out the planks and now I have a lovely level table.

Lesson #3:  Use dry wall screws AND when the guy at Lowe's says you won't need to pre-drill your holes, do it anyway.  It made things SOOOOO much easier.  

Hopefully by Monday I will have something competed to share!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Torchy's Tacos

Torchy's Tacos

When Ben came to Austin for his interview, he ate at a place called Torchy's Tacos.  I'm pretty sure Torchy's contributed to his desire to get his job.

When we came out together to find a place to live, Ben took me to Torchy's.  It was a sign.

Tonight we went there for dinner (we eat here regularly) and let me tell you, angels sang again . . . as always. Or devils in this case.

Here is what we had for dinner.

I had the Green Chile Pork.
Green Chile Pork

Slow-roasted pork carnitas simmered with green chilies and topped with queso fresco, cilantro, onions (but not on mine) and a wedge of limes.  Served with TOMALTILLO SAUCE on a corn tortilla.

Heaven. I had it the first time I ate here and I'll have it every time.

Ben and I both had a Ranch Hand.
The Ranchand

Tender strips of grilled beef fajita with scrambled eggs and shredded cheese.  Served with DIABLO SAUCE on a flour tortilla.

Steak and Eggs for dinner.  On a taco.  Perfect.

Ben also had their Taco of the Month.  The Double Wide.
day 43

Are you ready for this?  

Hand-battered chicken-fried steak with chopped bacon, topped with Green Chile Queso, cotija cheese and pico de gallo.  Served on a flour tortilla.

Ridiculous but apparently amazing. It has been the taco of the month twice.


PS -Their cups don't lie.  They are that good.

Note on Chicken-fried teak.  I wasn't sure what makes Chicken-fried steak different from Country-fried Steak.  Well here it is as explained by Andrea Lynn at

Chicken-fried steak - Most popular in Texas but also served big in some neighboring states.  It is served with peppery white gravy and typically has a crispier coating.

Country-fried steak is usually served covered with brown gravy.  It is apparently more popular in the rest of the South.  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

About once a year . . .

About once a year, I have my photo taken.

That isn't entirely true.  It is taken more often than that.  I just don't post it.  Anywhere. Which is really kind of funny because I am constantly telling people that they need to have their photo taken for their loved one's.

I colored my hair last night without my darling Parker.  I haven't colored my own hair in something like 7 years.  But I didn't want to find someone here and I knew my hair wasn't going to make it until our next trip home in June.

My friend Shannen suggested I send her a pic when I told her I thought it might be too dark. I don't do self portraits.  They stress me out.  I'm incapable of taking a photo using a mirror. I always angle my face in a weird way.  Plus, I usually have a crazy expression that makes my eyes look crazy. Oh, and I'm super self-conscious.  Now you see why this only happens once a year.

So here it is.  The single timer shot that worked out. Possibly only photo you will see of me during the entire 365 days.

day 41

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Back to normal

After 3 weeks of illness and an especially gross sick day yesterday, I think Sam is back to normal.


I was about ready to consider trading him to the Utah Jazz.  It could only help them at this point.

He was such a good boy all day and I was so happy to have our "precious child" (Granny's favorite phrase) back.  He even played all by himself this morning.  Something I haven't seen in weeks!!!


For my birthday I want a month of good health at our house.  That would be GREAT! 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Number 6


My parents gave Sam foam letters and numbers for Christmas. He LOVES them.  Whenever we leave the house, he has to take one with him. Usually, it is #6. He also loves #7 and #8.  If he starts to go down the stairs and realizes that he is empty handed, he will turn around a grab one.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Our little soda fiend

IMG_5479 copy

What's that?  Oh, just the temperature as we were driving today.  I might be bragging a little but as a person who has spent her last 19 winters in Utah and Nebraska, I'm pretty excited about 81 degrees in February.  Ben has spent all but one of his 32 winters in Idaho, Illinois or Utah so imagine his excitement.  University of Texas' campus was filled with peeps wearing shorts and flip flops.

It was just too beautiful to stay inside so we picked up Ben for lunch.  Of course we went to P. Terry's.  It is our favorite.  On the way home Sam lost it.  Again.  It seems like all I ever talk about these days is Sam being sick or Sam being crabby.  Hopefully this is just some weird phase because he is normally quite delightful.  

When we got home I unbuckled him and he immediately crawled into the front seat.  Why?  Because he wanted soda.  As soon as the Diet Dr Pepper was in his hand, he immediately calmed down.   He walked all the way to the front door sucking back his soda.

day 39

On a side note, I really am not the world's worst mother. We do limit his soda intake.  

Remember folks, this is a no judgment zone.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thank goodness it's almost Monday

After a particularly challenging day, Ben took us for a little drive tonight.  The lake near our home was lovely and serene.  So different from the day we had experienced.  Since I hadn't taken my photo for the day I decided that the sailboat on the empty lake made the perfect subject.

day 38

Ben and I had the opportunity to speak in church today.  This wouldn't have been a big deal except for that today Sam decided to be the worst he has ever been in church!!! I could hear him screaming in the halls as I attempted to speak  to the congregation.  Nightmare. Luckily, one of the sweet ladies in our ward took pity on us and roamed the halls with Sam while Ben listened to me talk and I listened to him.

We were asked to speak on how we can draw closer to God by recognizing the blessings in our lives.  It was a great chance for us to review our blessings.  We are so very blessed.  Ben and I often talk about what a wonderful life we have.  Of course, there are always things that we would like to change (lose weight, make more money, etc) but if I had to live the rest of my life in the state we are in right now, I would consider myself very lucky.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


I've been watching a lot of Cars lately.  I love the part where the cruise down main street and all of the neon is lit up.

Maybe its because I spent my childhood living in Vegas . . . 

Austin has a lot of fun neon.  Tonight as we were driving downtown I took some pics of a couple of my favorites.  

Texas BBQ anyone?

Custard AND Root Beer?!  Sold.

Boots in Texas?  I'm shocked

I thought Doc Hudson was a doctor, judge and race car.  Not a saloon owner.

The most retro and wonderful mini-golf place I have ever seen.
Do you think they've had this sign since 1938?

Friday, February 18, 2011


The moon was so awesome tonight that when my aunt called from San Antonio she told me I needed to take a picture for the blog.  Unfortunately when it was giant and orange, we were bringing home pizza, I had the wrong lens and again, no tripod. Don't worry, I'm going to beg my mother-in-law to bring my tripod to me when they come next month. (Mom, we'll chat about this Sunday.)

Instead you are getting the photo I took when I got home and set the pizza down.

day 36

Not the most technically perfect photo but I love the moodiness of it. It makes me feel like Sookie Stackhouse.  (New book coming soon!)

It also reminds me of my husband.  Whenever Ben reads a book before me or watches a movie first, he likes to "ruin" the ending by asking me if I've gotten to the part where (insert main character) has turned into a werewolf. He's been using this joke for the last 5 1/2 years.  Its still kinda funny.

As way of update, we've had a binky regression with Sam's new sickness.  I let him have it today.  I figure he looked miserable so I gave in.  I'm such a softie.   Now for the obligatory Sammy photo for the grandmas.  :)


You can't tell but at this point he was running a 103 degree temp.  Someday we will have a full two week period without someone in our house being sick.  Someday.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sammy Thursday - Waiting for Dad

Hopefully every one isn't getting tired of Sammy photos.  We're a little more home bound these days than we normally are.  Sam had the flu last weekend. He recovered Sunday.  Ben got sick Monday with some weird cough/flu thing and recovered yesterday.  Sam now has Ben's weird illness.  Awesome.  Of course, this all happens the week that our weather is GORGEOUS.    In addition to the fact that we are home bound, I was told by both my mother and Ben's mother that they love seeing frequent pictures of the rugrat so the rest of you will just have to deal.

Ok,  onto Sammy Thursday.

day 35
We have a gate in our entrance way.

You see, our front door is at the bottom of 12 stairs.

Sam can open our front door.

He likes to chuck things down the stairs.

Needless to say, there is a gate at the top.

Every afternoon when Ben comes home, we are alerted by the sound of his key in the lock and then the beep of our security system.   Every afternoon I say,  "OH!  Who is it?!"  Sam then runs to the top of the steps to wait for Ben.

I love how he shakes the bars like a little monkey trying to escape. Or like a two year old trying to get a drink of his dad's Big Gulp. I'm usually not far behind him angling for a  drink. We have been nicknamed the drink thieves.

Sam meeting Ben each afternoon is one of my favorite daily rituals.  Ben loves it too.  In fact, the rare days that Sam doesn't meet him at the gate he says, "What?! Nothing?"  Those are sad days at the Hanson house.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lunch at P. Terry's with Ben and Sam

Sam and I had the following conversation when we met Ben for lunch today at P. Terry's our favorite burger stand

Tracey:  Hey Sam!


Sam:  Yes, beautiful mother?

Tracey:  What do you think of P. Terry's?

Sam:  Hmmmm . . . What am I comparing it to?

Tracey:  Do you think it is better than In-N-Out Burger?


Sam:  Duh.

Tracey:  Ok, do you think that it is better than McDonalds?


Sam: Now you're just being weird. Nothing is better than McDonalds.

Tracey:  Am I better than McDonalds?!


Sam:  Of course you are.  You are even more beautiful that a hot fresh order of golden french fries.  I love you Mother.

Tracey:  I love you too son.

day 34

From the mouths of babes people.  P.  Terry's Burger Stand is pretty delicious.  Likely even more delicious than In-N-Out Burger.  Of course, we may just be jaded since there isn't one for approximately 1,202 miles.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Sam loves the iPod.  It is such a lifesaver when we are at restaurants (Did you know that I can never spell "restaurant" correctly?  Or "maintenance". ) or on long trips or when mom is spending an hour at the craft store.  I'm so grateful that he likes it but I really have to monitor how much he has it during the day or he would play with it constantly.  Ben reads on it at night so most days it stays in our bedroom on his bedside table until we go somewhere.  Nearly every morning while I'm getting ready, Sam plops down on the far side of our bed for a little bit of iPod time.  He hides out in the corner until I retrieve him.  Currently his favorite apps are:

Couch to 5K
My metronome app
Baa-Baa Black Sheep by Duck Duck Moose.  We LOVE these apps.
Fruit Ninja
His number and letter flashcards

And of course, he loves all of the Pixar movies Ben has loaded on it.

day 33

Sometimes I feel a little sad for my mom because she didn't have iPods when we were kids.  Then I realize she was also a much better mother than me.  There might be some correlation . . .

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

day 32

We hope your day was filled with love, flowers 
and of course, 
lots o' candy.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Great Cannister

This morning I was getting ready for church and I realized that this month it had been a year since Ben's Grandma Hanson, (aka Great)  had died. She was such a cute and spunky lady.  I always looked forward to going to her house with Ben.  You could always count on her having cookies in the cupboard and an opinion on the current state of the Utah Jazz.  I wonder what she would think of this whole Jerry Sloan thing . . .

When she died, Ben's dad asked if there was anything that we wanted from her house.  We were lucky enough to get the buffet that sat in her dining room, a set of her china that she received from her sister, an awesome old camera and Ben's favorite glass candy jar in the shape of a Christmas tree.  Perhaps my very favorite things of hers that we received were her cannisters that sat on her kitchen counter.  There are five in all and a cute little napkin holder.  Ben's aunts and dad thought that I was crazy for asking for them but I love them so much because I know they were a part of her day to day life. Someday when we buy a house, I hope to decorate my kitchen around these cute little cannisters.

day 31

Saturday, February 12, 2011

True love in the form of a chili dog

Sam has the flu.  

Needless to say, our Saturday has been spent hanging around the house, watching Pixar movies and snuggling. 

Ben took care of picking up some breakfast this morning and for lunch, he made me:
The Greatest Chili Dog Known To Man.
(from hence forth this shall be referred to as TGCDKTM)

Here's the deal.  I love chili dogs. Earlier this week, I made chili for dinner and yesterday I used the leftovers to make my self a chili dog.  It was so good I wanted another today.  Alas, I was pinned to the couch by a sick toddler so my sweet husband made it for me.  If you ask either Ben's sister of myself, Ben makes the very best sandwiches.  When I was pregnant I would beg him to make me a PB&J as soon as I got home from work.  So good. This magic apparently extends to chili dogs.

Ok, enough talking.  Time for a picture.

day 30
Ben has been watching a lot of Top Chef because when I told him I was going to take a photo he wiped the plate and perfected  the presentation.  Love that man.

And now the recipe.  I realize that the final creation requires hours of cooking but you are actually getting two meals out of it.  Chili for dinner one night and then TGCDKTM another.  So worth it.

TGCDKTM Chili Recipe 
(loosely based on the Pioneer Woman's Chili)

4 garlic cloves
2 teaspoon ground oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 pounds ground beef
6 slices of thick bacon, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces (DO NOT SKIP THIS INGREDIENT!!!)
One 16-ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons of onion flakes 
2 teaspoon salt
1 can pinto beans, drained
2 can kidney beans, drained

  1. Begin by measuring the spices: chopped garlic, oregano, cumin, cayenne, and chili powder.
  2. Place the bacon in a large pot (think cast iron if you have it) and cook it until it is almost done. Seriously, almost done but not quite, you don't want it to burn when your cookin' the beef.
  3. Add ground beef and garlic. Cook the beef until brown.
  4. Drain off the excess fat unless you want to look like me.  :)
  5. Pour in the tomato sauce. Followed by the spices and the salt.
  6. Stir together well, cover, and reduce the heat to low.  Cover the pot and simmer for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally. I like to cook it for closer to 3 hours.  If the mixture becomes overly dry, add in ½ cup water at a time as needed.
  7. About 20 minutes before serving, add pinto and kidney beans.  Let pot simmer for another 20 minutes.
  8. Top as desired.  We like sour cream, cheese and sometimes when we're feeling extra trashy, Fritos.

Now for Part II.  
The dogs 
(This is based on my aunt Nicole's technique)
  1. Take you dog and cut it in half lengthwise and then chop it into 1/2 in pieces.  Place it in a small frying pan and cook for about 3 minutes of over medium heat.  
  2. Add chili that has been sitting in a Tupperware in the fridge melding flavors overnight (I'm obsessed)  Add it to the frying pan mixing in the hot dogs. Cook until warm.  By warm I mean hot enough to melt the cheese that you are going to put on top in a minute.  
  3. Meanwhile toast and butter your hot dog bun.  Ben added this step.  So worth it.  
  4. Finish by covering the bun with the chili dog mixture and adding some shredded cheese.  I use colby jack.  Cause its always in my fridge.  
  5. Now go sit down and eat.  You can thank me later. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Binky Independence Day

day 29 - binky independence

This morning I decided we are going binky free at our house. We are going cold turkey. For the last year, we have been talking about it.  We've even gotten to the point where he only has it when he naps and goes to bed for the night.

Or if we're on an airplane.

And sometimes at church. 

Then at restaurants when he's noisy.  

Or when we want him to sleep in the car. 

 Or if he's super crabby.  

Basically we haven't done a stellar job at weaning him.  I think we are actually weaning Ben and I as much as we are weaning Sam.  

So this morning I gathered them all up from the top of his dresser and stashed them in the office.   A couple of times this morning he took me into his room to get an 'inky.  He seemed a little confused that they weren't on the dresser.  The first time . . . meltdown.  The second . . . whining.  Naptime . . . a little whining until I put him in bed.  I am currently listening to him yell from his bedroom.

The morning has been a little rough but I've been compensating with lots of mommy playtime and snuggles.  He even had Cheetos (On a towel . . . I have beige carpet people) and a movie.  Overall it has gone  . . . OK.

But as you can see, and I can hear, he is experiencing a little bit of withdrawal.

day 29 - withdrawl

So here's my question . . .  How long does binky withdrawal last?  Any suggestions on the transition?  When will it get better? Am I going to get any sleep this weekend?

Now for the greatest/cheesiest line in cinema history . . .

As President Whitmore said in Independence Day, "We will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish, without a fight. We're going to live on. We're going to survive. Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sammy Thursday - My boys.

Sam and Ben have a secret handshake.  I can't tell you what it is because, well, it is a secret.  Sam loves it and knows exactly how it goes.  So funny.




And just because I think he's cute . . . 

I like the sexy Grizzly Adams look.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Stars at Night . . .

I took a bunch o' photos today. However because I'm in the habit I grabbed my camera tonight as we ran to Hobby Lobby and HEB (the greatest grocery store ever).  Imagine my immense pleasure when I saw this:

day 27

I love me some Texas sunsets.

Gonna be honest, this is taken from the front of our apartment complex while sitting in my car.  That's how lazy I am.  Sometimes I just roll down the window and snap pictures.  Ben LOVES (not so much)  it when I make him stop for photos.

To top it off, Sam did one of my favorite things.  He put on his bike helmet while riding in the car.  Sam HATES hats and will never where them.  Unless it is his Lightening McQueen helmet.  And we're in the car.

IMG_4829 copy

Doesn't the nonchalant look on his face crack you up?  Such a goof.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I love my husband . . .

After two days of dealing with behavior like this . . .

some of this . . .

not to mention this . . .

and finally this . . .

My darling husband came home and took over parenting duties.  After dinner he even took me to get a treat.  My favorite treat.  Cupcakes.  From Hey Cupcake. The cutest Airstream trailer you have ever seen.  Never in my life have I loved something made out of aluminum so much.

day 26

 Tonight we will be splitting the following: 

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Top, Velvet Cake
(Because we're in Texas)
Double Dose Chocolate Buttercream Top, Chocolate Cake
(Because it is chocolate)
Michael Jackson Cream Cheese Top, Chocolate Cake
(Because it is kinda funny)

Sidenote: Yes, I realize my son looks like an albino in these pictures.  I think he has whined all of the color out of his face.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Kindle Sweater

We're really phoning it in tonight people.  

Sam had a particularly delightful dreadful day and I have lost all energy to come up with something creative.  So here is the photo I managed to quickly snap this afternoon for one of my friends.

day 25

That's right, I crocheted my Kindle a sweater. What can I say, I love the thing,

 One of my friends (Jessica) co-writes for a darling blog Little Birdie Secrets  with one of her friends. They featured a pattern for a Kindle/Nook cover the other day and of course I had to make one immediately. I switched up the pattern a little bit and added a pocket for my light.  Now my Kindle will stay warm through the rest of the dreadful  delightful Texas winter.

Now I'm going to go hide in my bathroom and take a bath with my toasty Kindle.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Galveston - Houston Weekend Part 2

We spent Saturday night swimming and partying.

By partying, I mean Sam learning how to climb in and out of the pack and play.  This resulted in all of us partying until 10:00 when he was finally tired enough to lay down and go to sleep.  Not a good vacation development.

Today we drove down to Galveston to check out the island.  What a fun place!  We decided to check out the beach since none of us had ever been near the Gulf of Mexico.  Sam LOVED it. He ran around in the sand and up to the water's edge.


This summer when it warms up, I think we will definitely be making a trip to the Texas shore.


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