Thursday, February 28, 2013

Time To Get Crafty! - Cardboard Box Car

When I first started this blog as well as when I first joined Pinterest, I was soooo inspired to become a crafter. Well, after a few novice-level crafts, I soon realized that I will leave that to the more artistcally-gifted group of DIY-ers. I left the crafter's group with my head held high....figuratively speaking of course. I'll occasionally venture back into it....but only for a occasional holiday, school project or maybe a birthday. My 'craftiness' will have to stay dedicated to the kitchen.

Fortunately, the wonderful thing about kids (under 4-5 perhaps) is that the crafts that you do for them are absolutely amazing in their eyes. Hmmm now that I say that, I should probably change what I said in the first paragraph and do tons of crafts this year while they appreciate it and can't notice all of the blatant spots of imperfection. This, this I will do.

Anyway, at my sons' parents day out school, there are different thematic days to get parents involved. One of those days is 'Drive-In Movie Day' where parents (along with your child as long as they like to help and not tear ish up --like my youngest) decorate cars made from cardboard boxes, wagons or laundry baskets. I'm not going to lie, last year was our first year in the program and we didn't participate. Poor Drew didn't have a 'car.' It could've been due to pure laziness or not knowing what to expect, but after seeing some really decked out cardboard boxes, I knew that we had to participate this year. Plus, I couldn't send TWO boys with no 'car.' If we're apart of the same parents day out program next year, we'll have to step it up a notch, especially since this was done in one night.

My boys are still obsessed with Disney Pixar's Cars characters. We used to have about 13 different cars (gifted from their GG) from the Cars 1 and Cars 2 movies, but my youngest with through a phase of being enamored with our trashcan and would secretly dig in and throw away different items.
How do I know? I would either catch him near the trash after the fact, look through it and recover said items OR I would put two and two together after days of searching for lost items.
As of today, we only have 7. Thanks Reid.
And, we used to have 3 different advanced-level sippy cups. Now, we only have 2. Thanks Reid.
We are preeeettttyyyy sure that he trashed them. Secretly of course. If I would have caught him at the end of the act, I would have certainly recovered them. Each Cars-themed car is about $3.50 or $4 and that cup was $4 or $5 for a package of 2. We're not buying anymore cups because he's moving to straw cups only next and we're not buying anymore Cars-themed cars until they're on a much better sale. I mean, you can get a package of 10 Hot Wheelz cars for the same price of just 2 Cars-themed car. I'm just explaining the reason of our frugality.

Soooo, out of the 7 Cars-themed cars, my oldest loves Lightning McQueen and my youngest loves to carry around Finn McMissile. So that's what my husband and I made.

And they still love it.

If you'd like to make one of these for your kid, girl-themed or boy-themed, go here for easy instructions. What we did varied from these instructions but it gave us a good starting point. Oh and paint was $0.57 at Walmart. I bought 2 bottles per color but only ended up doing 1 coat instead of the 2 coats needed, so I had paint left over. The 4 bottles were definitely enough for 2 coats for each box.

Next time, I'll actually let them paint with me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Weekend Birthday Pictures - Food & Family

So as I told you here, my 30th birthday was this past weekend and instead of 'painting the town red,' I spent time with and consciously appreciated being with my family.
I only got fed up with constant whining for maybe 5 minutes. Yay!
I was so excited to see them have fun during our day of no schedules.
Which included skipping church and letting Thomas & Friends babysit the boys while we took a nap. Hey, they like to get up between 6:30-7:30am even on the weekends so that nap was much appreciated!
I guess that means that 'schedules' create a bit of stress..............well, maybe it has more to do with always being behind schedule that creates some of my everyday stresses.
Annnnnnnyyyywaaaaaaayy, check out some family-food-filled pictures below.

Saturday, I found a new stylist, got my hair straightened and had a 1/2 inch trimmed off. Waahhh! At least it was a cute style.

I looked pretty darn cute and of course didn't take a picture. We were late to the sitter's house and then to dinner. Ugh. One day I'll get these outfit posts together. Anyway we had theeee most delicious sushi. We pigged out, ordering 5 rolls and spending a LOT of money. Oh well, we had a great time though. If you're in Dallas, go to RA Sushi and get the Viva Las Vegas roll (shown in the picture). We ordered it twice!

Say cheese!

Wake up Sleepy Head!!!

Yep, the front exterior is a gas station. Chef Pointe is near Fort Worth, TX.

The appetizer on the right is SO delicious! They are 3-cheese mushrooms drenched in a buttery, scampi sauce. They are 'smack somebody's mama' delicious!

I'm pretty lucky to have tiny humans that actually stay in their chair.
By the way, my oldest is usually a photobomber and makes the face he has in the picture on the right allllll the time, unless you use your stern voice. This time we coordinated a 'silly face' picture though.
Luckily my youngest doesn't do that yet, but I'm sure he will next year.

How was your weekend?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Turning 30 and Looking 18

Source: via Larissa on Pinterest

Yesterday was my birthday.
It was my 30th birthday.
How does it feel?
I don't know. A birthday is a birthday.
I feel good about turning 30 because I still feel and look so youthful. Ha! Thanks to my height, healthy eating and the lack of [ever] smoking, I'm still told I look 16 or 18. I'm reeeeeeaaallllyyyy going to appreciate hearing that when I'm 50!
I'm excited to finally leave my 20's. I feel like I made so many mistakes of caring what people think, being manipulated by guilt trips and not self-reflecting enough on what I want to do as opposed to what others want me to do. Others and people = my family and my husband's family (excluding my mom). They mean well even if it is for their own personally-fulfilling reasons.
I've been viewing my 30's or maybe just my 30th birthday as a magical time when a 'fairy godmother' flies over me sprinkling wisdom dust releasing my inner Oprah.
Then I won't waste any moments regretting not speaking up when needed or giving a damn when I shouldn't.
Wishful thinking but doesn't magic happen in your 30's? Only if you make it, I'm sure.
I have no big plans. No trips across the states or across the 'pond.' No self-thrown parties. All celebrations that my single/unmarried/kid-less friends did. And of course they'll be in my current season of family as soon as I leave it. Its just the way kismet-{fate} works.
Just me and my hubs having a kids-free night on the town.
And a moderately-sized shiny new house.
I'd say those are the only gifts I need.
The season of my life right now is all about family, my husband, our boys and providing stability in our routines. In a couple of years, it'll be a completely different story. For example, my 3-year old already wipes our kisses off. Pretty soon, he'll be requesting us to not kiss him at all in public.
I'm going to enjoy this season and hope pray for more wisdom.
I'm still going to be on the lookout for my 'fairy godmother' though.

Did you have any pivotal/life-changing moments on a specific birthday or did you have any hopes for life-changing moments after you reached a certain age?

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Bad Mattress, A Bad Diet & A Bad Attitude

This past week [and weekend] was one of those weeks.
A week where I didn't get enough rest, didn't have enough coffee and didn't have enough patience.
I blame our old mattress for ruining my restful nights of sleep.
And I guess I can blame myself for not making coffee everyday.....but coffee everyday isn't healthy. At least not the way that I make it. (I double-boil white chocolate, mix with almond milk and then pour it into my coffee. The only other way I can drink it is straight black with Kahlua and that probably defeats the purpose of it.)

I had to hear so much whining from my two tiny humans.
I mean, sure it was probably the usual amount but my depleted amount of patience didn't think so. I just wanted to be left alone.
I didn't even have enthusiasm in my workouts, and that's usually where you blow off steam!
Do foods ruin your mood? Its possible that I've been eating so healthy that any form of 'cheating,' ("Damn you milk chocolate and ice cream!") can not only make my stomach churn initially, but it can also effect my moods.
I also discovered that I have a problem with thinking I have to eat all of the Valentine's Day chocolate until they're gone. Over a 3-day span of course. C'mon, I have a little bit of restraint!
But really, if you haven't tried Lindt Chocolate truffle are really missing out, even if they are addictive. "Once you pop, you can't stop" should've been their slogan, not Pringle's!

I'm sure it doesn't help that we need a new mattress or that I have been mentally running in circles while banging my head against the wall. Gosh, I hope I can settle that part soon.
We've had this mattress for seven years now. And its been through TWO pregnancies...with 40-lb weight gain each time! Oh and to make it worse, its a pillowtop....those can only be rotated, not flipped. Yeah, yeah I know mattresses are supposed to be replaced every five years, but time got away from us. Now my back and my peaceful nights of sleep are suffering.

I'm also anxious for our move at the end of the month (when we get our new mattress). We finally bought a house! But now comes the fun part --- in figuring out color schemes for the rooms, especially for the boys' room. I want to make sure that their room isn't too infant-toddlerish so that we're not re-decorating their room in another couple of years when they become "big boys."
I researched feng shui colors and finally can check decorating off my list.
Too bad I can't say that for the other tasks going on in my mind. {Throws pity-party confetti}

I'm still not looking forward to the amount of whining and/or fighting that this upcoming week will bring me, but hopefully the mattress fairy will come and sprinkle 'restful sleep' dust on our mattress every night this week.....or every night until we buy a new mattress.

People, women and moms can't be perfect. Some days, or unfortunately some weeks, will just be a time of survival. I can't be perky, fun and unfazed all the time but I will fix my eating and try to keep things in their proper perspective.

Please tell me that some of you have the same kind of day(s) or week(s) sometimes.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Delicious Three Cheese Veggie Lasagna

I saw this recipe on one of my favorite cooking shows and had to try it. It was just as delicious as it looked on tv and I am so glad I have this in my food repertoire now. I hope you try this recipe and enjoy it as much as we did!
Oh and thanks Nik for inspiring me to try meatless dishes! I'm going to add them to our menu once or twice a month.

(6-8 servings) 
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 tbsp panko bread crumbs ---> My favorite is Kikkoman Japanese Panko
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley leaves ---> I didn't use these
  • 2 to 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup cauliflower
  • 1 cup seeded and chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup seeded and chopped squash
  • Salt and coarse grind black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced or finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp of whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup vegetable stock ---> I used a beef bouillon cube
  • 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 box of lasagna noodles

  • #### I roughly halved of all of these portions (except for the grated parmesan) and we had the perfect amount including leftovers.

    Preheat your oven to 350F.

    Blanch your lasagna noodles in a large bowl of really hot water for about 15-20 mins until al dente or until the vegetables and sauce are done cooking.Then drain and set them aside.

    Cut up your broccoli and cauliflower into florets size if you didn't buy frozen broccoli florets. Then, scoop all the seeds out of your zucchini and squash to minimize the water extraction and cut into chunks. Scooping out the seeds will prevent the veggie mix from being too watery. I preferred preparing ALL of my veggies before cooking them because I know my burner tends to cook quickly.
    Sautee the broccoli and cauliflower in a pan of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sautee until al dente. Add the zucchini and squash once the broccoli and cauliflower are close to being done. I'm sure you know how fast they cook. Just don't let them get mushy.

    Take your onion and miced garlic and sautee them in 1-2 tbsp of butter, but don't let them get too brown. Next, add 2-4 tbsp of whole wheat flour to the garlic, onion and olive oil. The mixture will be thick like dough. Then, add the the vegetable/beef stock, milk, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and half of your parmesan cheese. Continue adding seasoning according to taste.
    Let your sauce mix simmer on low, until thickened.

    Panko Mixture
    Add your red pepper flakes and smoked paprika to a bowl of 1-2 tbsp of butter and heat all of it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Once melted, add your panko bread crumbs and stir in.

    Build your lasagna in your oiled square (or rectangular) pan:
    Sauce -> noodles -> veggies -> sauce -> noodles -> cottage cheese-> veggies -> shredded mozzarella cheese -> noodles -> sauce -> panko mixture

    Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of the baking process for a crunchier crust.
    Cool and serve.
    To check out the recipe go here.

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

    Book Review: Symphony On Sand

    Symphony On Sand
     Katrina Jewett Hammons

    "Three friends, one year, three events -- Reagan Hamilton is ateacher and a die-hard Democrat. Alexandria Giroud is an attorney and a staunch Republican. Taylor Rays is a corporate executive and an Independent. These women take on the highs and lows of life together until betrayal, deceit and tragedy strike in a heated election year. Suddenly, the friends must make tough choices. Can friendship triumph over the zero-sum game of politics? Only the journey tells..."

    A couple of months ago, I was lucky enough to meet the author of this awesome book at a publication brunch tour that a mutual friend held for her. Katrina's writing is definitely the kind I enjoy, moderately suspenseful and descriptive with just enough details left out so that readers can use their imagination when visualizing the way the characters may look, dress and act as well as the sex scenes. (No 50 Shades here, which I am personally okay with.)

    I like to think of this story as a mild political 'thriller.' Okay, well maybe it's not a thriller since there's no violence or killing. It's just a GREAT fictional political drama. The story revolves around the 2008 Presidential election and covers an example of health insurance corruption. The author, Katrina, had such a balanced delivery when discussing the political beliefs of each character throughout the book. I not only learned about the cracks in health insurance [premiums] but I also gained insight from her politically balanced approach.

    I could NOT put this book down and was so upset when I had to ---> motherhood duty calls. I can't wait for the sequel to this book, which she is currently writing, and wish that it could be turned into a Lifetime movie!!!

    This is Katrina's first book. She is a former healthcare attorney, but this book is not based on her life nor on the work she has done, just about what she learned can happen - within the fine print of health insurance.

    You can buy her book by clicking the links: Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

    Buy it NOW and tell me how much you love it!!!