Monday, November 30, 2015

Weekend Update

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving! I'm so excited that the holidays are in full swing.
 
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We traveled to Senatobia to see my in-laws for Thanksgiving. We left on Wednesday and had a big feast with them that night then came home the following day. It was fun being with them and, as always, we ate entirely too much. We attempted some Christmas card photos while we were there. It took about 100 takes, but we luckily did find one that we like, and I ordered our cards yesterday! I'll share the final product soon. In the meantime, here's one of the many failed versions. Ha! Getting four people to smile and look at the camera at the same time is near impossible.

 
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This sweet girl and I shared a bed when we were in Senatobia...I had to sneak a few photos. I love watching my babies sleep.

 
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I worked on Friday and had a great day...I was pulled to work on another floor, and while no one likes being pulled, it actually turned out to be one of the better days I've had in a long time. I worked closely with one of the doctors that day, and he complimented me on a "good call" I suggested...it's always nice to be recognized...

And on the way to work I caught this sunrise. I love the church steeple in front of the sun coming up...

 
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I woke up Saturday morning to a little girl with a terrible rash around her mouth. Hadley had had a fever on Thanksgiving night, but she was fine on Friday. I took her to the doctor, and the second the nurse saw us she said, "Oh, she has Hand, Foot, and Mouth." Ugh...the doctor confirmed it and said it was one of the worst cases she'd ever seen! Much to my surprise, Hadley has handled it very well! She is still eating, drinking, sleeping, and playing...she is a tough cookie, that one.

 
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Rob went to the Egg Bowl on Saturday night, and I stayed here with the girls and decorated the house for Christmas. So we were all in our element, happy as clams.

 
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We skipped church yesterday and just spent the day continuing to decorate and cleaning up. Decorating for Christmas is a full-time job! Hadley is about the same...her rash looks terrible, but she is hanging in there. We'll be skipping school this week and will probably be hunkered down in the house most of the time. Should be interesting...
 
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There are lots of Cyber Monday sales going on today...I need to do some Christmas shopping, so I hope I can find some good deals. Anyone else doing some shopping from home (my favorite kind) today?
 
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Hope everyone has a great day and a happy week! I plan on sharing our Christmas decorations tomorrow so stay tuned for that! :)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Thanksgiving Staple

It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without my great aunt Ruby's Three Bean Salad. We've had it for years with our Thanksgiving spread, and it's the perfect addition because it's cold and light and very colorful. I now make it throughout the year because I can't wait until the holidays to have it. It's a perfect side to a sandwich, and we make it often to go with burgers or hot dogs. The celery, red onion, and green bell pepper add just the right amount of crunch to the peas and green beans.


Ruby's Three Bean Salad
 
1 can Le Sueur peas, drained
1 can French style green beans, drained
1 green bell pepper finely diced
2-3 stalks of celery finely diced
1 jar pimientos, drained
1 small purple onion finely diced

Dressing

 
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
 
Combine vegetables in a large bowl. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour evenly over salad. Refrigerate and serve cold.
 
**The original recipe makes a lot of dressing. I usually add at least one more can of peas and green beans to the mix. Add more or less bell pepper, onion, and/or celery to adjust to your liking**
 
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I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving...I am so thankful for my family and friends and for the chance to gather together to celebrate the holidays! We're with my in-laws for the holiday, and I'm working on Friday. Hope to see y'all back here on Monday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Simple, Perfect Chili

I made this chili for the first time last night, and we loved it. It was perfect for the cooler temps, and it was super easy to make. Seriously, I kept looking back at the recipe thinking I'd left a step or a few ingredients out. I did add a cup of water to the mixture prior to letting it simmer for an hour. I thought it needed it, but that's just personal preference.
 
Serve with shredded Cheddar, green onion, a dollop of sour cream, and tortilla chips for dipping, and you have a yummy meal!
 
 
Simple, Perfect Chili
{The Pioneer Woman}
 
2 pounds ground beef
2 cloves garlic, chopped
8 ounce can tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup masa harina (found in the Mexican section of your grocery store)
15 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
15 ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
 
Place the ground beef in a large pot and throw in the garlic. Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain off the excess fat, and then pour in the tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and cayenne. Stir together well, cover, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes overly dry, add 1/2 cup water at a time as needed.
 
After an hour, place the masa harina in a small bowl. Add 1/2 cup water and stir together with a fork. Dump the masa mixture into the chili. Stir together well, and then taste and adjust the seasonings. Add more masa paste and/or water to get the chili to your preferred consistency, or to add more corn flavor. Add the beans and simmer for 10 minutes or until ready to serve. (The longer it sits, you may need to add a little more water because it will get dry.)
 
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Hope everyone has a great day...

Monday, November 23, 2015

Weekend Update

We had a great weekend here...and the temps dropped significantly so it finally feels like holiday weather. We even made a fire last night!
 
 
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I worked on Saturday, and it was a rough day...just a tough patient load and one of those days where you feel like you can't get caught up and everything that can go wrong does. I needed a reminder that it was going to be OK, that I was doing a good job and was taking care of my patients. That reminder came in the form of one of my elderly female patients. I was in her room doing rounds, and we talked for a minute about memories. She talked about her love for Hershey's Kisses, and I told her that one of my favorite childhood memories was going over to my grandmother's house and always finding a Hershey bar in her refrigerator...we always knew when we visited Gamma that she would have a chilled Hershey bar waiting on us. I think she enjoyed our conversation, and I know I did. Those are the special moments of nursing, to me. As I was leaving her room, she looked at me and said, "I love you. I really do." What a sweet reminder from her that I was doing well...everything that had gone wrong was out of my mind, and I carried those precious words with me the rest of the day.
 
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Lily's Thanksgiving program at school was last Thursday, and there's nothing much cuter than children dressed up like Native Americans. PC police, please don't kill me...Hadley went with me to the performance, and I think she entertained the crowd just as much as the older kids did. She is a wild turkey, that one!!
 
 
 
 
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Lily brought home lots of Thanksgiving crafts after her program...I was so hoping for a sweet craft that would list all the ways she was thankful for her family, and instead we get this...haha...
 
 
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Hadley brought this craft home from Mother's Morning Out, and I just adore it. The turkey's feet are the cut-out shape of her hands, and his wattle (is that what that dangly thing is called?) is the cut-out of her foot...really cute!
 
 
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I have a new favorite pair of boots. They're the most comfortable things I've ever put on my feet, and they keep me warm too. I ordered a half size smaller than I normally wear, and they fit like a glove.
 
 
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Rob and I started watching Scandal last night, and I'm hooked! I don't know why I waited so long to try it out...it's a little cheesy, but that just makes for good TV, in my opinion.
 
 
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I'm trying out The Pioneer Woman's chili this afternoon...these temps have me wanting soup...if we like it I'll share the recipe tomorrow or the next day!
 
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Hope everyone has a happy day. Happy Thanksgiving week!


Friday, November 20, 2015

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

So, I don't think it's any secret that I love a good casserole. Especially this time of year. I've made this one numerous times, and we always comment about how it's one of our favorites. It saves well and freezes well too, so that's always a bonus. It'd be a great meal to take to someone in need of food.
 

 
King Ranch Chicken Casserole
{Southern Living: Our Readers Top-Rated Recipes Cookbook}
 
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
2 cups chopped cooked chicken (I used an entire Rotisserie chicken)
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas (I probably used 20)
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided (I used more...I always use more cheese)
 
Saute onion and bell pepper in oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken and next 7 ingredients. Remove from heat.
 
Tear tortillas into 1-inch pieces, and layer one-third of tortilla pieces in bottom of a lightly greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Top with one-third of chicken mixture and 2/3 cup cheese. Repeat layers twice.
 
Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes.
 
I sprinkled green onions on top of mine when it came out of the oven.
 
Enjoy!
 
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I hope everyone has a great weekend. See y'all on Monday...


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Random Bits

I was browsing in Hobby Lobby the other day and picked up a few things for the girls. I'm thinking they'll be cute additions for the gallery walls I'm dreaming up in their bedrooms. I plan on holding on to these items and letting them be treats from Santa. I know they'll be thrilled...haha...but Santa can bring practical presents too!
 




 
 
 
 
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I'm loving this poncho...especially like the fringe on the bottom.
 
 
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I wish I could recreate the arrangements below. The orange and purple look stunning together. And I love the idea of using fresh pears as part of a centerpiece.
 

 
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Is this not the cutest kitty you've ever seen? We lost my beloved Samantha this past summer, and I've missed having an animal companion so much. I'm hoping we can get another kitty (or two!) when we move.
 
 
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This ice cream is insanely good.

 
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I can't stop listening to Justin Timberlake...especially "Drink You Away." I can't count how many times I've re-watched his performance with Chris Stapleton at the CMAs. He is one multi-talented guy.
 

I heard Brandi Carlile on the TODAY show one morning, and I'm hooked on her song "Wherever Is Your Heart." Listen to it, especially if you like folk rock.

 
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I love a good fruit salad!! ;) 
 
 
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Hope y'all have a great day...


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Life Lately

Is anyone else having a hard time believing that next week is Thanksgiving? This fall is going by so fast. I can't believe the holidays are upon us. We are honestly still unsure what our Thanksgiving plans will be. I'm working the day after, and Rob has been so busy with work lately. I can't wait to put our Christmas tree up a few days later. That I do know.
 
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I've been the worst reader lately. But really...how do y'all find time to read and still do the other things in life that need to be done? I could probably replace some of my reality TV with reading, but at the end of some days, I just need to zone out. A psychologist would probably tell me that's a red flag right there, but I'm just #keepinitreal ... I'm still reading The Husband's Secret and am really enjoying it. I'm also trying to finish up For the Love and Carry on, Warrior. All three are really great reads so far. Maybe that's my problem...reading more than one book at a time.
 
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Lily's school pictures came in, and I don't think she was feeling her photographer or his vision. Seriously, I cannot.stop.laughing. And how big does she look? Goodness, I'm going to need a major sedative when she goes to kindergarten next year.
 
 
I think this one is so sweet...
 

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 This salsa is the best ever. It tastes homemade to me and would be a great and obviously simple appetizer for a party. I do prefer it room temperature to after it's been refrigerated.
 
 
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I've been trying to eat more veggies lately...one way I can always do that is by making my grandmother's Curry Dip to go along as a side.
 
 
Gamma's Curry Dip

1 clove garlic, minced
1 pint mayonnaise (I cut this in half)
5 tablespoons ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons Lea & Perrins
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 dash of Tabasco (I do a few)
 
Mix well and serve immediately or refrigerate.

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Below are some pictures of my girls. They are my heart and soul.
 



 
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I'll leave you with some funnies...
 

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Hope everyone has a happy day!
 


Monday, November 16, 2015

Paris

 
I normally write a weekend update on Mondays, but I felt kind of silly sharing that today. The events in Paris have left me so sad. Sad for the people who died. Sad for those who loved them. Sad for those (myself included) worrying about their own safety when they go about their daily routines and lives. I'm also sad for my Muslim friends who get torn apart when Muslim extremists do something atrocious in the name of their religion. I would be horrified if non-Christians lumped me in the same category as the members of Westboro Baptist Church.
 
This world is a scary place, and I'm not sure what the answer is. I read status updates on Facebook all weekend from friends who think we're (the United States) crazy for opening our borders to refugees. I understand that thinking...I really do. But I also wonder what Jesus would do. I try to ask myself that question frequently...what would Jesus do if he were here today, I wonder? And I think it's obvious what he would do. James 1:27 states, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
 
So how do we find that balance? How do we protect ourselves while caring for others who desperately need us? I really don't know. I don't know what we can do; I don't know what the answer is. All I know that I, that we, can do right now is pray...pray for Paris, pray for the state of our world, pray for the leaders who have to make such big decisions...pray for those refugees who are terrified and are simply trying to find a safe place to exist in this world.
 
I firmly believe that good triumphs over evil, every single time. Maybe I'm na├»ve, but I believe that in my soul...I think we have to know that to be true in order to just put one foot in front of the other in this scary (yet still very beautiful) world today. So, that's what I can do...that's what I'm doing. Believing that good will win in the end and praying for our world in the meantime.
 
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"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18


Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Things

The Nordstrom holiday catalog arrived in the mail...a.k.a. the adult equivalent of the Toys "R" Us catalog. Now if only Santa visited the adults in our home too! I would love a Barefoot Dreams robe under our tree. They look so cozy, and I know I'd wear it all the time. Does anyone have one? Input? They're pricey for a robe, but I imagine it'd last a really long time.
 
 Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Robe

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I got my flu shot, and my arm is so sore. At least our whole house is vaccinated now. Hopefully we can go the entire winter flu-free. Ain't nobody got time for that.
 
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I found the world's best shirt at Old Navy. Seriously. The length is perfect. It's thin but not too thin so you can easily layer it or wear it by itself. The slits on the side kind of drape over each other so no skin is exposed. Super cute and affordable! I might have gotten three colors.
 
My parents are moving in December, and I've been spending a lot of time over there packing things up in my bedroom. It's been my room at their house since I was a junior in college...all sorts of emotions going through my old things. One constant that I noticed through the process: I am a hoarder through and through. Mixed tapes from junior high...notes from friends from elementary school. And loads and loads of books, most of which I donated. I mean I'm hoping I won't need to reference Why Men Love Bitches any time soon. Ha!

And then I found this beauty...I was obsessed with Barbies as a child...thankfully my parents have held on to all of them, including this Chippendale Ken! Lily said he was creepy...and I have to agree.


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I don't know what I'd do without Target's Genuine Kids clothing line. My girls are almost always dressed in either that brand or clothes from Gap. We're all about casual, cotton play clothes over here.

I picked up this outfit for both girls. It has deer and foxes on it...I love a woodland theme.
 
And how cute are these pants?
 
Another item I picked up for both girls. A lightweight cardigan with cat ears. Umm...yes, please.
 
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Don't tell Rob, but I'm pretty sure I found the perfect stocking stuffer for him this year. He's going to be so excited I can hardly stand it!
 

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I hope everyone has a great weekend. See you back here on Monday!!


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Catching Up

I've been falling behind on my blogging the past few days, and I've honestly missed it. You know, sometimes life just gets in the way...so I thought I'd play some catch-up this morning.
 
I know it's Thursday, but I still like to do a weekend recap...I mean, those are the best two days of the week, am I right?
 
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Friday night Rob cooked the best burgers...he melted blue cheese on top of mine, and it was pure bliss. We also made Baked Zucchini Fries for the first time, and they were fabulous...I'll definitely be making them again! What a yummy alternative to regular fries...and a good way to get your kiddos to eat their veggies!
 
 
 Baked Zucchini Fries
{Allrecipes.com}
 
Cooking spray
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used Panko)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
3 zucchinis, ends trimmed, halved and cut into half-inch strips
 
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
 
Stir bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese together in a shallow bowl. Whisk eggs in a separate shallow bowl.
 
Working in batches, dip zucchini strips into egg mixture, shake to remove any excess, and roll strips in bread crumb mixture to coat.
 
Transfer coated zucchini strips to the prepared baking sheet.
 
Bake zucchini fries in the preheated oven, turning once, until golden and crisp, 20 to 24 minutes.
 
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I worked on Saturday and had a great, though very busy, day. Cancer is so horrible, and some days I wonder if I can emotionally take working in that field anymore...it robs people (and their loved ones) of so much...but then I remember there are plenty of things it cannot take: love, laughter, peace, hope, and joy. My prayer every time I drive to work is that God would help me to be His hands and feet that day...to not only help my patients with their physical needs but also their emotional and spiritual needs too. Working in oncology is hard. And 12 hour shifts are tough as well. But I always leave with a greater understanding of and appreciation of human life. I pray I will never take my health for granted. Life is so hard for so many.
 
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Sunday, we went to church as a family for the first time in a few weeks, and it was just what I needed. That afternoon we looked at a house again that we're interested in, so that was fun. Hoping something will pan out soon!
 
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I have had the worst headaches lately...I've never been diagnosed with migraines (I've never seen a headache specialist), but I think it might be time. I've tried all the OTC medications, and nothing seems to work. Yesterday I caved and took a Xanax as a last resort (I take that very occasionally for severe anxiety/panic attacks), and it worked within 30 minutes flat. Poof...no more headache. So I'm wondering now if these headaches are tension or stress-related. Has anyone else experienced something similar? The headaches seem to be around the base of my head and down into my neck and shoulders.
 
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I already mentioned that after Hadley's two-year appointment we knew we were going to have to start language and speech therapy to get her up to speed. Well, we also ended up seeing a pediatric ENT yesterday to make sure she doesn't have any hearing loss...sure enough, she has fluid behind both ears, which apparently decreases hearing...and ultimately decreases a toddler's ability to repeat words, sounds, etc. So, we're giving it a month to see if the fluid clears up on its own, and if it doesn't, we'll probably go the tube route and then pursue speech therapy. Lily has to have speech therapy too, just for some difficulty with some sounds, so I'm trying to find someone who will just basically move in with us...haha...I feel fortunate that these are our only concerns right now. So many children and their parents struggle with so much more on a daily basis. Perspective is a good thing.
 
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The brouhaha over the simple red Starbucks cups has me shaking my head...folks really need to get a grip and return to reality for a little bit. As George Takei stated, "If there's one good thing we consistently get out of ridiculous events, it's incredible memes. Thank you, Internet." That said, here's my favorite. I cannot stop laughing!!!!!
 
 
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It's raining here, and I'm so tempted to put out Christmas decorations, but I'm trying my hardest to wait a few more weeks. I hope everyone has a great day!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Herbed Shrimp & Feta Casserole

I made this for dinner last night for the first time, and we really loved it. I love feta cheese, and it works so well with the shrimp. It makes a huge dish, so there will be plenty for leftovers too. We had it with a green salad but next time I'll probably serve it with a side of roasted asparagus.


 Herbed Shrimp & Feta Casserole
{Come On In! cookbook from Junior League of Jackson, Mississippi}
 
2 large eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup plain yogurt
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 pound Swiss cheese, shredded
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound angel hair pasta, cooked
16 oz. jar mild, chunky salsa
1 pound medium shrimp, uncooked, peeled
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat bottom and sides of 8 x 12 baking dish with cooking spray. In separate bowl, blend eggs, milk, yogurt, feta and Swiss cheeses, parsley, basil, oregano, and garlic. Spread half of pasta over bottom of baking dish. Cover with salsa. Add half of shrimp. Spread remaining pasta over shrimp. Pour and spread egg mixture over pasta. Add remaining shrimp and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
 
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Enjoy...hope everyone has a happy day!