Friday, September 30, 2011

- happy friday -

(Image credit

Enough said!
Have a stupendous weekend!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

- in the blink of an eye -

 They grow up in the blink of an eye. It seems like just yesterday we were bringing Ellie home from the hospital. And now, in a month and a half, she will be turning two! Recently I have started to realize just how fast she is growing. Before we know it, she will be heading to kindergarten, and then grade school. She will learn to ride her first bike and get her first report card. Soon enough, she will be a teenager. She will get her first kiss, find her first boyfriend, and probably experience her first heartbreak. She will grow, she will change, and she will need us less and less. She will leave home, and head to college. Her future will be wide open, and anything will be possible for her. This will all happen so the blink of an eye. But for now, I will enjoy her. I will relish in the fact that she needs me so much still. When she asks me to sit down and play with her, I will put down whatever I am doing to spend a few minutes, if not more, with her. Because there will come a time when she doesn't ask for me anymore. There will come a time when she will be older and have so many other people to spend her time with, that she won't want to hang out on our living room floor with me, playing with her toys or reading a book...I'm trying hard not to blink.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

- the web of blogs -

So I sat down to write a post last night, and realized I had no inspiration and no post ideas. Since I hadn't had any time to catch up on reading some of my favorite blogs since Thursday evening, I decided to go through my reading list, thinking I might get some inspiration from my fellow bloggers...

Three hours later, I looked up and realized what time it was! I once again had become tangled up in the crazy web of blogs out there.

I mean, do you know how many blogs there are floating around, just waiting to be found? I am usually very good at limiting the number of blogs I will sit down and read at one time, but sometimes there are those times when I find myself clicking on link after link, sponsor after sponsor, and I quickly become lost in a web of blogs. I have found some of my best blogger friends this way and so many awesome people have found me this way too. But at the same time, I eventually have to stop falling in love with all the new blogs that I discover. Because my life could quickly be consumed by following more and more blogs!

I mean, how crazy is that stat?

Monday, September 26, 2011

- quick recipe of the week -

Big drum roll this morning...I am featuring one of my favorite, favorite ladies! I'm not kidding, I love this girl! This amazing blogger is one of the sweetest people I have ever met (even though I guess technically we haven't officially met in person yet). I fell in love with her blog the minute I saw it! She is one talented girl, and when I reached out to her for a little bit of photography help, she showered me with so many random acts of kindness! She seriously touched my heart with her instant friendship. Needless to say, like I said, I absolutely love this girl! And her family is simply adorable! Oh, and she lives in Costa of the "must visit" places on our list of vacation spots! It's such a beautiful country!

Without further ado, please meet Sonya, from {shutter}mama. Sonya is a beautiful mom to one of the cutest little girls ever! Sonya, her daughter, Maia and Maia's wonderful father, Jose currently live in the small country of Costa Rica. Can you please look how funny and cute their little Maia is!

(Image credit Sonya)
 Jose is in his last year of college for Graphic/Advertising Design and Sonya is on her way to becoming a Neonatologist. Their plan is to make a move to the US within the next year. Sonya told me that making food in Costa Rica is a bit different than the US because there are NO time limits...they often find themselves starting a meal at 6:00 p.m. and not really eating until about 8 pm or later! And she promises it's not because the meals (including this one) are difficult to make, but instead meal time in Costa Rica is about spending time with the family. So while making the meal, everyone gathers and talks and jokes about their day. The kitchen becomes cramped quarters where everyone is more than happy to stand and visit with one another causing the cooking process to slow down a bit! I don't know how well that would work in my itty bitty kitchen, but what great family time that would be!

Chicken Chimichangas with Guacamole
6 (12 inch) flour tortillas
4 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1 pound Monterey jack cheese (shredded)
4 cups refried beans Butter or Oil (To Cook)
Sour Cream (optional)
1 cup Tomato

Avocado topping-
2 avocados
1 pkg. McCormick Guacamole Mix
1/2 of a lemon

Start by making your avocado topping (It's going to need to refrigerate for about 30 minutes). To make the guacamole- in a medium bowl mash together avocados and lemon juice. Stir in McCormick Mix. Now, to make the chimichangas, boil chicken at a steady boil for 30 minutes. Once done, drain and shred with fork. Heat refried beans in a saucepan over low heat until they stir easily. Heat tortillas in a large skillet or in the microwave so that they fold easily. Butter one side of the tortilla. If you choose not to use butter you can cook these in oil. Flip tortillas, butter side down on plate and spoon equal amounts of refried beans onto each tortillas followed by equal amounts of chicken, tomato, and Monterey jack cheese. Roll up the tortillas¸while tucking in the sides. Heat skillet and put in folded tortillas, turning once, until browned on both sides. Put on Medium-Low heat and cover with lid to get the cheese to melt - the longer they're in there at a lower heat the gooey-er the cheese). Place on a plate and top with guacamole mix! Serve with a side of sour cream.

(Image credit Sonya)

(Image credit Sonya)

How good does that chimichanga look? YUMMY!

Please go visit Sonya at {shutter}mama and get to know this talented, beautiful mom. You won't regret it! Everyone that reads Sonya's blog loves her and her writing, and I promise you will too!  Someday, I will get to meet this sweetheart in person and I will be so happy that I did!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

- the conversation that melted my heart -

This past Sunday we spent the afternoon with some friends who have a little boy, James. He is one year older than Ellie, and Ellie loves going over to his house and playing with all of his "big boy" toys. Her current obsession with Thomas the Train is courtesy of James and all of his train sets! She gets so excited when we go over to their house.

So this past Sunday, after a long afternoon of happily playing at their house, we finally came home and put her to bed. She asked me to stay in her room with her, and although I don't want to get into the habit of having to lay down with her while she falls asleep, I obliged this time because she looked incredibly sad that I was going to leave her all alone in her room for the night. (I know there are tons of parents out there that lay down with their kids at bedtime, and there is nothing wrong with that. I just don't want Ellie to get into the habit of needing us to do that because she is so good at putting herself to sleep without any sort of crutch...oh wait, what did you say? Her pacifier is a crutch? I'm covering my ears and pretending I didn't hear that!)...I digress...back to the story.

She asked me to lay down in her tent which is right next to her crib. So I turned down the light, and crawled halfway into the tent on the floor (because that's as far as I could fit!) I heard her rustling around to get comfortable and then the room got quiet.

All of a sudden, I heard her tiny toddler voice...

Ellie: Momma?

me: Yes honey?

Ellie: I had fun.

me: You had fun baby? (pause while I was trying hard to think about what she was referring to)...You had fun doing what baby?

Ellie: (giggle, giggle), I had fun today. I went to see James, and played with his trains. I love choo choo trains Momma.

me: That's right, you played with James today. I'm so glad you had fun baby. I love you.

Ellie: Momma? You sleeping in my tent and Daddy's sleeping in his bed. (giggle) I love choo choo trains and I had lots of fun today. Nyt nyt Momma.

My heart started melting and my eyes were tearing up as I realized my little one is growing up. She's so cognitive and aware. She's having full conversations with me and acts so grown up at times...she's not a little baby anymore! But oh how I love this growing girl! Just when I think I can't love my kiddo anymore than I already do, a heart melting conversation like that one makes me love her even more.

Needless to say, it was a wonderfully sweet conversation to have with my little love in the darkness of her room. Not more than five minutes later I heard her breathing get heavy and slow and my tired, innocent baby toddler fell fast asleep.

(and for the record, I fell asleep on her floor laying halfway in her tent and had to creep out of her room an hour later when I woke up and realized I was not in my ridiculously comfortable bed!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

- lmao -

Any parent of a toddler will get a really good laugh out of this one...

Approximately 3 Minutes Inside the Head of my 2 Year Old

  1. I wanna play with Daddy’s phone.
  2. I wanna put on Mommy’s shoes.
  4. I wanna open and close the thermostat.
  5. I wanna turn on and off the light on the microwave.
  6. Is there anyone here with a phone I haven’t played with yet?
  8. I wanna pick up the cat by its head.
  9. I wanna throw all the toothbrushes in the sink.
  13. I want out of my chair.
  14. I wanna play with the iPad.
  15. I wanna go outside. No, I wanna turn the heat on.
  16. I wanna take my pants off.
  17. I don’t like the shirt I’m wearing.
  18. I wanna play with Mommy’s phone.
  20. I’m thirsty.
  21. No, not for that.
  22. Yes, perfect, juicebox. I’m gonna squeeze this damn thing all over myself.
  23. Where’s Daddy?
  24. Where’s the cat?
  25. Where’s Mommy?
  27. Oh my God I think Mommy left forever.
  28. Ok, there’s mommy. I want to play with her phone.
  29. Hungry again. Never mind.
  30. I just remembered not liking these pants. Get them off.
  32. Wow, I’m starving. I want peas but I don’t know how to tell anyone.
  33. Finally, peas. I like throwing these.
  35. Oh look, a new person. I wonder if they have a phone.
  36. I’m tired.
  37. I’M NOT TIRED!
  38. I wanna go for a walk but I don’t wanna go outside.
  39. No, not inside either!
  40. I need to push some buttons right now.
  41. I hate this diaper.
  42. My eyes itch.
  43. WOW! Is this my toe?
  45. I hate these pants.
  46. This shirt itches.
  47. I’m tired.
  48. Stop asking me if I’m tired.
  49. Where’s that toy that goes beep?
  50. I wanna take a bath in my clothes.
  51. Put on my favorite song.
  52. Where’s the cat?
  53. What is UP with my shirt?
  54. Did I just hear a dog bark?
  56. I wanna see a dog.
  57. No, not OUTSIDE! I wanna see a dog inside.
  58. Is my penis still there? Good.
  59. I peed.
  60. I’m bored.

Monday, September 19, 2011

- quick recipe of the week -

I've got a double dose of recipes for you today! And both of them sound so good! So without further ado, let's get started with the first recipe! Meet Lacee, who blogs over at Mommas Like Me.

(Image credit Lacee)
 I just recently stumbled upon Lacee's blog and I'm having so much fun getting to know her! Lacee is a 29 year old SAHM to 5 year old Carter and a wife to her wonderful husband of 10 years {they just celebrated their 10th anniversary!}. She loves to travel, bake, craft and she's a newbie to the blogging world. Lacee started her blog because she believes that "us mommas need to stick together." Through it she hope to inspire fellow mommas with her experiences and to create a community of mommas who all support and encourage one another!

Bleu Cheese Turkey Burgers
1 package of Jennie-O Turkey Burger Patties
Bleu cheese crumbles
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Salt & pepper
Hamburger Buns or Orowheat Sandwich Thins

In a frying pan, heat a little olive oil over medium-high heat. Season one side of each patty to taste with the onion & garlic powder, salt & pepper. Place seasoned side down in pan then season the other side of each patty. Cook patty's until they turn white and a little golden. Remove from pan and place on hamburger bun then immediately top warm turkey patty with bleu cheese crumbles. Finish off with whatever fixins you like on your burger.

(Image credit Lacee)
(Image credit Lacee)

Talk about an easy recipe for a Bleu Cheese Burger! Now your burgers can taste gourmet without taking hours to prep and cook! Thank you Lacee! I am definitely adding this recipe to my regular repertoire of dinners!

And now, let's move on to recipe number two (it's pretty fun to have two recipes in one day, is it not??)

Please meet Courtney. Her blog, from here to eternity is definitely a daily read for me! Courtney is just such a great person, always so positive and upbeat! I seriously, seriously adore her!

(Image credit Courtney)
 Courtney started her blog to journal her adventures and her life with her husband, Eric. She never knew how blogging would change her world! She has made some of the best friend's a girl could ask for through blog land, not to mention all the diy's, recipes, and inspirations she loves read about daily. She absolutely loves meeting new people, and she loves to eat, so she was more than happy to share this recipe with us!

Sweet Pork
1 pork roast
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups coke
2 bottles of Taco Bell Mild sauce

Cook pork roast in crock pot for 8-10 hours on low. Shred pork. Combine brown sugar, coke, and Taco Bell sauce in a bowl, then add to pork. Cook on high for minimum 1 hour. Serve on a roll, or in a tortilla.

(Image credit Courtney)
(Image credit Courtney)

Thank you Courtney and Lacee for these two delicious recipes! Now no one has an excuse for not cooking this week... go try out these recipes. I promise you won't regret it!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

- i'm happy -

Yes, I've had a rough couple of weeks lately. Yes, I've been stressed out. But you know what? Every time I look around, I am amazed at what I have, and it grounds me. I'm healthy, my family is healthy. We have a roof over our heads (and a decently nice one at that). We have jobs. I have a smart, bright, super cute daughter and a husband that tries his hardest to give me everything I want and more. I have some amazing friends, and the best mom ever. The rest of my family are all so loving as well! We all have stresses in our lives, and I know there are thousands of people out there that would trade my stresses for their's in a heartbeat. People with no jobs, health problems, love problems.

I have a life, that at times, can be pretty stressful. But when I look at my daughter, and look at my husband, they remind me of why I sometimes run myself ragged. It's worth it. I really do love my life. I always have the occasional venting sessions or pity parties, but you know what? I'm happy. I'm really, really happy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

- a lollipop -

My little one had her first lollipop over the weekend! 

This was a big step for me! I try not to give her too much sugar, especially candy. I firmly believe that it is up to the parents to teach their kids healthy eating habits, and this starts even at this young age. I'm not going to say that Matt and I are the absolute best eaters, but we definitely try to make a conscious effort (well, I do...and Matt just gets stuck eating whatever I cook!) I know how horrible processed foods and sugar are for your body. So I really try not to feed Ellie a lot of that stuff. When we are at home, she very rarely gets processed, boxed dinners or other microwave meals. Even the chicken and fish nuggets that she loves so much are 100% chicken or fish, with no processing or additives (more expensive?...yes...better for her?...yes!).

And when it comes to sugar, she already gets so much of it in the ridiculous blueberry flavored milk that she insists on drinking 3 times a day (and I only cave and give it to her because it is almost the only calcium she will take all day). So we also try to avoid giving her a lot more sugar in our house as well. Now, I do not want to end up being that mean mom that doesn't allow her to eat anything fun as she grows older, but I also think that, right now, she is too young to even know about all of those sugary treats and snacks out there. So there is really no reason to go out buy tons of that stuff for her when she will just as readily eat a piece of fruit, or a "not as tasty", but much healthier, sugar free cookie (which she absolutely loves, btw, so don't feel too bad for her!) And she does get plenty of treats, we don't deprive her...I just don't make it a point to keep our pantry stocked with cookies, and chocolate, and other sugary, packaged snacks.

However, this past Sunday, we went over to a friend's house and all the kids were eating lollipops. So, I unwrapped one for her and let her go for it. She liked it...but didn't love it (thank God!). She had more fun rubbing the sticky, messy lollipop all over her face, and my legs!

Her nose and the rest of her face was a big sticky mess after this!

Oh Ellie, you melt my heart!

Thanks for all of your patience with my lack of posts lately. I am slowly, but surely decompressing and destressing, and I will be back in the blogging saddle soon!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

- exhausted -

I'm exhausted...just physically and mentally exhausted right now. Work is crazy right now. My to do list on my desk is seriously out of control and so overwhelming. And then when I get home, I immediately have to switch into "mommy mode" and start Ellie's evening routine. And I have to find time to cook dinner. Oh, and laundry, let's not forget about the laundry that never goes away...and dinner dishes, and maybe picking up the house a little, or finishing work I didn't get done during the day. And the whole time I am doing all of this, my brain is going 100 mph thinking of everything else I need to be doing. I am finding it so hard to just stop and catch my breath during the week.

Lately, by the time Ellie goes to bed, I haven't even had the time or energy to have a little "me time" to do the things I enjoy doing, let alone spending any time with the hubby. Last night I crawled into bed at 8:15! I'm seriously exhausted!

I could really use a recharge right now, but until then, I'll just keep plugging along and hopefully I'll find some extra energy somewhere! And when I do, I have a huge list of blog posts to finish and post for all of you lovelies! Stay tuned...

Monday, September 12, 2011

- quick recipe of the week -

Back to the weekly's Monday again! But that also means another wonderful recipe from a darling blogger, Denise. I love reading Denise's blog, that girl Denise, and I think you will too! She's beautiful inside and out, and that is so evident in her posts! Denise is a sarcastic, witty, 24 year old mommy whose world just recently did a 180 in every aspect of her life. Her blog is her journal through the whole process. The up's, the down's, the good, and the bad. Juggling a divorce, raising her son, being thrown back into school, working, a never-ending custody battle and having to deal with that battle 1,200 miles away. Her life is definitely a challenge right now, but she is keeping her head up and a smile on her face! She loves featuring other bloggers on her blog so definitely head over there and check it out!

(Image credit Denise)

The recipe Denise is sharing is a very simple, quick little dish that would be a great "plan B" dinner. You know, we all have those days when you don't have much time to cook, or you forgot to thaw out some meat and you are desperate for a "plan B"...well, here's your solution! This dinner is simple, easy, and inexpensive!

Ramen Egg & Ham 
One package Top Ramen
2 eggs

Slice the ham into tiny squares. Boil the Top Ramen, and while it is cooking, scramble the eggs. When the ramen is finished cooking, strain all of the water. Mix the noodles and eggs together, stirring consistently to the noodles don't dry out. Mix in the ham and ramen seasoning and stir until the seasoning is spread throughout.

(Image credit Denise)

(Image credit Denise)

Seriously, how cute is she? I promise you will love her! So go stop by her blog and get to know her better! And have a wonderful Monday!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

- end of summer fun -

Kids are going back to school, fall decorations are being displayed in the stores, people are already planning for the holidays...yup, summer has just about packed all of her bags and is saying her goodbyes. I will hold on for as long as I can...I refuse to make this goodbye an easy one! I even planned a last minute girl's trip this weekend for Lisa (my good friend), my mom, and myself (and the kiddos of course) to squeeze a little more fun out of summer! But soon, we will have nothing left but memories of this summer...all in all, great memories, with just a few bumps along the way. We had some rough times financially this summer that we weren't expecting to have to navigate our way through, but we persevered...although at times, not very gracefully. And we also made some wonderful family memories! This might have been one of my favorite summers ever!

On a seperate note, we have definitely hit our terrible two's around here! As one of my absolutely favorite blogger friends called it, this is undoubtedly a "beautiful, ugly stage" we are at with Ellie. On one hand, it is amazing to see her learn and develop every day. Her language skills constantly blow us away, and it's so much fun to watch her little personality blossom. But there is also the flip side. The tantrums, the frustrations, the constant use of the word "no". She tests my patience and gets me laughing hysterically all within five minutes. It definitely is beautiful and ugly all at once, but such an important phase for all of us. She is learning boundaries, and we are learning to set those boundaries. And when this stage is over, we will look back at it all with smiles on our faces, and joy in our hearts...hopefully! Ha ha ha!

Monday, September 5, 2011

- quick recipe of the week -

Hope everyone is enjoying their long weekend! Happy Labor Day!

Labor Day, to me, has always marked the very early beginnings of fall. And even though it still looks and feels very much like summer around here, I am starting to see Halloween costumes for sale, and fall decorations lining the shelves at the stores. Fall is quickly approaching! And what better way to welcome fall, than with a yummy recipe for chili! Mmmmm, one of my favorite dishes when we are camped around the TV watching football games!

Meet Amy, from Tangled Up in You

(Image credit Amy)
 Amy is a wife to an amazing husband, new mommy to an almost 5 month old, and a 3rd grade teacher. She loves every single one of those 3 titles! Her and her husband love to travel, but that will be put on hold for a while now that they have their sweet baby girl. In her spare time, Amy likes to attempt some crafting and photography. She started back to work last month after a 4 month maternity leave. It was the one of the hardest things she has ever had to do, but they are slowly getting into a routine in this new chapter of their life. Motherhood has been the most amazing journey she has ever embarked on, and she just loves waking up every day to see what new adventures her precious baby, Aubrey will take them on. (And let me tell you, Aubrey is an absolute cutie!)

30 Minute Taco Chili 
1 lb lean ground beef (ground chicken or turkey also work)
1 medium onion
1 package of Taco Seasoning
1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch Salad dressing dry mix
1 can of kidney beans
1 can of pinto beans with jalapenos
1 can of sweet corn (drained)
1 can of stewed Mexican style tomatoes

In a large pot, brown the ground beef and chopped onion. Then drain off the excess fat. Add the taco seasoning mix and ranch dressing dry mix  to the ground beef. Stir in the  kidney beans, pinto beans, tomatoes, and corn. Cover and let simmer on medium to medium high for about 20 minutes.

(Image credit Amy)
Printable Recipe

Thank you so much Amy! It looks amazing! I can't wait to try this recipe out at the first football party we host! Don't forget to go visit Amy's blog and say hi! She's an absolute sweetheart, with a gorgeous baby girl!

Friday, September 2, 2011

- the importance of having a professional family photographer -

I remember when my hubby bought me my DSLR camera...he casually made the comment "Oh, this will mean we don't have to pay to get pictures done anymore"...NOPE! Not true at all! It doesn't matter how good I become at photography, I will always have a professional photographer take our family pictures. I could never put a price on the amazing photos we have had professionally taken of Ellie since she was born.

The key to loving your professional pictures? Find a talented, creative, and incredible photographer. One who can truly capture you and your family being you!

I stumbled upon Nina, our awesome, stupendous, super sweet photographer when Ellie was almost 6 months old. I immediately fell in love with her work, and booked a 6, 9, and 12 month shoot for Ellie. After the first shoot, I fell in love with Nina. She was so, so patient with Ellie. And she took the most beautiful pictures! I remember after Ellie started walking, we had another shoot for her 18 month pictures. I was so nervous because Ellie was not cooperative and would not sit still for the camera...she just wanted to walk around everywhere! Again, Nina was the most patient person ever. After almost 2 hours, I was positive she only got a few good ones...WRONG! She took almost 150 perfect shots that truly captured Ellie and her personality. The older Ellie gets, the more I realize that I need someone who can truly capture Ellie, just as she is. Nina can do this! I also find it so nice to actually be in some of the pictures, rather than just behind the camera!

Over the past year and a half, Nina and I have become great friends, so photo shoots are even more fun. She allows me to be creative, and bring my ideas to the shoot. She is always up for trying anything!

But her work says it all. Here are some shots from our latest photo shoot...
(Image copyrighted by Nina S.)

(Image copyrighted by Nina S.)

(Image copyrighted by Nina S.)

(Image copyrighted by Nina S.)

(Image copyrighted by Nina S.)

One other really ingenious thing that Nina offers to anyone, no matter where you live, is "custom editing"...what is custom editing you might ask? Well, basically, she will professionally edit any picture that you have taken. Those dark, underexposed photos of your darling child that are just lacking that sparkle and color pop....that super cute picture of your baby that would totally be frame worthy if there weren't so many toys and clutter in the background...Yup, Nina can transform those pictures into beautiful, professionally edited shots! She definitely knows what she's doing both behind the camera and also behind the editing software.

Nina is the perfect addition to my photography obsession. She is my photography mentor, and she not only takes the most wonderful family pictures of us, but she also helps and encourages me with my own photography ambitions.

We are so lucky and very blessed that we found Nina! I encourage you to search for your own professional photographer if you haven't already found one. They will be able to capture memories of your and your family that you can never replace. It doesn't matter if you just started playing around with your own fancy camera, or if you are an accomplished photographer...everyone needs an outsider who can truly capture your family as a family, even if it's just once a year or so. I mean, do you really want to have to push the timer button and then run into place anytime you want a picture of all of you together? And how else could I ever get shots like this one below, if it wasn't for an amazing, talented professional photographer...

(Image copyrighted by Nina S.)

I mean seriously, look at this little character! She knows how to work the camera already!

P.S.- If you are interested in getting some custom editing done on any of your photographs, feel free to shoot me an email! I'll get you all hooked up with Nina so she can work her magic on your pictures to make them look gorgeous!

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