Thursday, July 25, 2013

a few things we like right now...

ME: Allrecipes magazine. This is a great website I've often used and a friend gave me her copy of their new print magazine. I love it!! There are things in it that make it different than typical cooking magazines.

KIDS: The new devotional Bible I found called Jesus Calling Bible Storybook. It's very similar to The Jesus Storybook Bible, but there is a very short devotional at the end of each story. The kids really enjoy it and always want me to read the title of the next day's entry when I'm done.

ME: My new favorite snack: Cheez-its and toasted almonds (one of each in each bite) :)

KIDS: Homemade "Cinnamon Sugar Donut Holes" (my version). I experimented the other day and just used a basic whole wheat biscuit recipe and rolled the dough into balls. After baking I then dipped them into water and rolled in some cinnamon sugar.

ME: Our library. It has provided us with fun outings this summer and today is no exception as we are headed to a magic show this morning. :)

KIDS:  Peppa Pig. If you have Nick Jr., chances are you have seen this show. My kids LOVE, LOVE it.

Monday, July 22, 2013


*We leave this Friday for a visit with Chris' family up in Reno. Chris and I had talked a while ago about setting aside some money to buy Cam and Kendall a new toy to play with up there. Before we left for the store today they both received instructions that the toys would not be opened until Sunday.

Of course Cam got a new Lego set. Poor kid has studied that box backwards and forwards and even watched Youtube videos on how it will be put together. I have to admit there is little else in the world that brings me as much joy as seeing how EXTREMELY EXCITED this boy gets about a new Lego set. :)

*I found a new muffin recipe (Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins) that the kids love. I actually am not a fan of the muffins I usually make them (I can taste the beans, veggies, etc.), however these are quite tasty. :)

*I get kind of excited each time we go to our local fruit stand to see what bargain bags they have. Today I got 2 bell peppers, 1 head cauliflower, 1 head broccoli, and 2 onions for about 80 cents! Granted, they are on their way out freshness wise, but who cares since I cooked them tonight! :)

This is only 1 of 2 trays! :)

*Excited for The Bachelorette tonight!!! What's gonna happen with Brooks????

Saturday, July 20, 2013

not quite what we had hoped for

Today my parents treated us to an afternoon at Yucaipa Regional Park for a picnic and some swimming. The kids were beyond excited. As we were waiting to get in it started sprinkling. We debated leaving, but figured it would quickly pass. It didn't. While Cam got one turn on the waterslide and Chris took Kendall in the lake for a brief few minutes, it pretty much sprinkled or rained hard the entire time. :(

As we were all huddled under the umbrella Cam was getting more and more distraught. Not sure if it was the loud thunder, being so wet, cold...who knows. Anyway, we quickly packed up and headed back to the car. Overall the kids did very well considering it wasn't quite the day they or we had anticipated. :)

It might have helped that they knew what was headed their way this afternoon/evening. I'm not sure how this idea developed this past week, but tonight had been deemed "movie night", which included a viewing of Elf (gonna be honest and say it made me super excited for the actual Christmas season) and a dinner consisting of mozzarella sticks, pigs in a blanket, dinner rolls, and chocolate covered marshmallows. :)

To say these kids are fans of what Cam calls, "monster-ella sticks", is an understatement!! You can see Cam keeping tabs on how many Kendall was shoveling down :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

"one of the better ways I've had broccoli"

Last night I experimented with "Broccoli Bites for Kids":

Kendall: Liked
Cam: Loved
Me: LOVED, LOVED...had three
Dad/self proclaimed broccoli hater: Liked well enough to tell me that it was one of the better ways he has had broccoli

A few things:
*Needs some sort of dipping sauce. We used sour cream
*Cut the broccoli chunks super small
*I cooked them on a skillet so I didn't have to heat up the kitchen with the oven
*I subbed ground oats with a little Italian seasoning for the bread crumbs

I served these alongside some Sweet and Sour Pork (subbed ground beef).

Thursday, July 18, 2013


*Yesterday we went to the beach. It started out rotten (or I should say my attitude was rotten) due to traffic, only finding a parking spot that required quarters put in EVERY hour, walking 1/2 a mile to the bathroom holding Kendall (because she insisted she couldn't walk due to having to pee so bad), etc. However it was easy to switch my attitude the minute we got to the water. They were in hog heaven. I had brought my mom's new big beach umbrella but didn't need it at all since we were literally down in the ocean the whole time we were there (a few hours).

Afterward we walked around Fashion Island for a while. There isn't a whole lot for kids there, but they have a cute pond area to run around. On the way home I introduced them to Sonic. They liked seeing the guy deliver their ice cream on roller skates. :)

*Realizing I'm doing pretty good on this month's grocery budget, I decided to treat myself today and bought these at Walmart. Excited to try them!

*Chris and I have always enjoyed the various shows/documentaries that Morgan Spurlock does (he's the one that did "Supersize Me" a long time ago). His current one is on CNN and is called Inside Man.

*The other night we were sitting watching Chris play in his softball game when Cam asked, "Mom, when babies are inside their mommy's tummy, before they get married...are they smarter than the eyes on a fly?" He was dead serious. Anyone want to take a stab at that one??? :)

*I got an Errandgirl job for tomorrow. I'm going to take an elderly man to the doctor. I'm looking forward to being able to wait for him in the lobby and read. :) I'm about 2/3 the way through Wuthering Heights. Not sure why I'm sticking with it as it is a dark and depressing story. But for some reason I really want to see how it ends.

*Kendall is officially done with her naps. Sad day. Sad, sad day :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

dessert stuff

1. What is your favorite dessert?
A tie between German Chocolate Cheesecake (this one in particular)

...and a super dense, rich, underdone brownie.

2. What is your favorite dessert to make? I probably have made Gooey Bars more times in the last 10 years than any other dessert. The main reason is that they are a hit anywhere I take them and they can be frozen/thawed very easily.

3. What do you NOT like in desserts? 
*Nuts (however there are exceptions)
*Hunks of fruit (if I'm going to consume large amounts of dessert calories...why would I waste them on fruit???)
*Edges and corners of any bar cookie
*Crispy cookies (must be underdone)
*Plain ice cream (needs chunks of something)

4. What dessert have you never tried but want to?
I've always wanted to try bread pudding. I think the traditional kind has raisins (blek!), so this recipe (minus the rum) is more what I think would be REALLY yummy.

5. What is your spouse's favorite dessert? Chris isn't super into dessert, but he does like German Chocolate Cake, cheesecake, and Cookies n' Cream ice cream. From the first time I made these, probably 8 years ago, Fudgy German Chocolate Cookies would be his favorite of the desserts I've made.

Other thoughts:
*I think "cake batter" flavor is a little nasty
*Peanut butter and chocolate is the best combo
*Butterscotch and chocolate is a close second
*Despite being non-chocolate and store bought, I think Lofthouse sugar cookies (found in grocery bakeries) are wonderful
*I prefer my bowls of ice cream melted to almost a milk shake consistency
*With that said, I don't care too much for milk shakes because there are no chunks
*If I walk into a Sweet Factory, I will completely avoid the entire gummy/sour section, which sadly is the largest section
*I have NEVER tasted a chocolate dessert that was too rich. Only wimps say things like, "Oh, I can just eat one bite. It's just so rich!" Paaalease :)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

gas and other stuff

*Our neighbor has a peach tree which we've taken advantage of. We made homemade peach jam last week. While I was floored at how much sugar it required, I DID like that I could keep the skins on the peaches before pureeing and at least there wasn't any other foreign ingredients (like in store bought). :)

*A friend recently asked me if I calculate gas in our cheap outings. I'll admit, while I feel like I'm super frugal with groceries, eating out, and activities with the kids (museums, etc.), I don't budget or keep track of gas. Chris and I talked about it last night and I think we both came to the conclusion that A) Living where we do requires a bit more driving in general to do fun things and B) We would rather find free/cheap activities to do, even if they are a drive, as opposed to doing things more local (which are hard to find where we are) and having more money to spend on activities (using the gas money we would save). I guess I'm not willing to budget that area of our lives yet. Smart? Not sure. But that's where we are at. :)

*Costco trip today:
-Toilet paper
-Frozen veggies
-Laundry soap (coupon)
-Bath soap (coupon)

*In realizing I've done a lousy job of talking to my kids about saving vs. spending (and tithing for that matter), I borrowed an AWESOME set of Dave Ramsey books from a friend. My kids are glued to me as I read these books and I can tell (mainly with Cam) that the lessons are totally sinking in.

*Made this Mac N' Cheese again last night and love how simple/healthy it is, especially using whole wheat pasta. :)

*Excited for Suits to start back up next week!

*Honestly, my least favorite on The Bachelorette is Brooks, which from the looks of the previews, seems to be Desiree's favorite. I like Zak and Drew. :)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

turkey gyros

Back when Chris and I lived in Whittier, we used to frequent a place called cafe-OPA. It had the BEST Greek food around, especially their Gyros. We haven't been in probably 7 years, but we still talk about it. I have never attempted Gyros and while the ones I made last night couldn't compare to cafe-OPA, they were definitely a hit and will be made again.  I love that they are super healthy!! I got quite a few, "These are yum!" :)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

palm springs getaway

Chris and I just got back from what will be one of the big highlights of my year...two days kidless in Palm Springs. We loved relaxing, talking uninterrupted, playing tennis, and just being together. :) If you read my blog on a regular basis, you know that we are on a pretty tight budget. So how did we do it without spending much moola? 

#1 our entire stay at our FAVORITE hotel was free due to some old rewards points we had.

#2 Our favorite activities were cheap or free, like playing tennis...

and reading. I probably spent more time doing this than anything. I can't tell you how relaxing it was in the lobby. I'm deep into Wuthering Heights and intermixed that with some people watching...

Instead of going to the moveis, we rented one and watched it in our room (hooking up our car DVD player to the TV)...

Chris also played golf for $11. I was able to join him on the last few holes and enjoyed hearing him talk about the strategy he uses in playing. :)

#3 We ate for super cheap. Two of our lunches took place at Costco. 

A breakfast and dinner were taken care of with a gift card we had saved from Christmas. The other was our splurge night. We couldn't really go on vacation without a visit to our favorite, The Cheesecake Factory. Chris' expression lets you know this was no wimpy burger. He gave it a solid 10. Dessert was ice cream at Rite Aid. :)

I love that we didn't spend much money at all, yet we both had the best time with one another. I sure love my husband. :)

p.s. On a sidenote, leaving the kids was a little harder than usual for me. I think one reason was that I had been feeling a little guilty because my tone with Cameron before leaving wasn't the greatest.  The past few days I had felt like more of my interactions with him were more negative than positive ("Cam don't do that." "Cam you've already asked me 5 times"). Anyway, the guilt from that made leaving him a bit hard and I was bound and determined to do something super fun when we returned. This super fun thing came in the form of creating our largest map yet (he LOVES creating maps). So San Diego to Reno was attempted and I must say it came out quite nicely. :)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

fun afternoon for $2.87

How did we entertain the family all afternoon for super cheap??

1. Brown bagged our lunch and ate near the playground at Victoria Gardens.
2. Headed to Family Summer Camp days at Bass Pro Shop.

Free craft...

Free carousel ride...

Pretending to "camp"...

3. Went to the Lego Store in Ontario Mills to let Cam look at all the sets currently on his "wish list".

4. Lastly we treated us to a soda and the kids to a Strawberry Sundae (Kendall) and Chocolate Chip cookie (Cam) from McDonald's. Total $2.87 :)

Friday, July 5, 2013


*We had a great July 4th with some friends. For the BBQ I made these cookies. They were good, but what was GREAT about them was the addition of the instant coffee. It gave them this richness that makes me think I'm going to add it to any chocolate chip cookie I make in the future. And for those who don't like coffee, you really can't taste it. :)

(I WISH mine looked this good!)

*The kids loved the fireworks, however it was a LATE night for them. We have realized lately that Cameron doesn't do so well when it's late and he's tired. He started crying on they way home wanting to know what time it was (over and the point that I tried to cover the clock) and telling us that he just needed to get to bed. He also says other things that just don't make sense (very hard to explain) and let us know he needs his bed, plain and simple.

*Today we met my mom at her friend's house for a swim. The kids loved it and I actually enjoyed it more than is typical for me. I'm not a fan of swimming but today the water was not cold at all, making it soooo much more doable for me. :)

(they are waving to the camera, which is why they look so funny)

*I've been trying not to heat up the house by using the oven for dinners. I was happy to find that meatloaf cooks perfectly simply by placing the pan in the crockpot (on top of a veggie steamer so the heat can circulate).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

last couple days

*Tonight I made some yummy bread in my bread machine for our chicken salad sandwiches. I forgot how good homemade bread is.

The kids prefer the bread on the side :)

*After dinner Chris took the kids out front to play with water balloons. It was a magnet for the neighborhood boys who came over and started a game of water balloon toss. I was trying to help Cam play, however I noticed as the kids got louder, it began to scare him a bit and he got pretty anxious, to the point of coming over to me with tears in his eyes saying, "Um...why are there so many kids here?"

We came inside and I felt badly that I had tried so hard to help him be "one of the boys," when it was simply too much for him. It was a good reminder to me that my little guy has different struggles sometimes and I need to be sensitive to those.

Before bed Chris took both kids out in the back and had a fun water balloon time just the three of them. :)

*I found a yummy snack recipe in a cookbook my mom recently gave me.

Sweet-and-Salty Peanut Butter-Banana Bars

1 cup quick oats
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 ripe bananas (mashed)
1/8 cup honey
1 egg
1/3 cup mini pretzels

Mix all ingredients and press into greased 8x8 pan (I actually pressed the pretzels on top before baking). Bake for approx. 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.

*Today I picked up a woman from the airport (part of my little Errandgirl business). It was so nice on the way to listen to what I wanted to listen to (rather than the kids' choice). I caught up on a couple podcasts from Stuff You Missed in History Class. I learned all about the potato famine in Ireland back in the 1800's.  Really fascinating.