Thursday, December 18, 2014

I {heart} Jo Totes!

I did it again! I ordered myself a new camera bag for Christmas. If you know me at all you know that a camera bag is the last thing I need for Christmas. But to be honest I asked Santa for a new camera this year. Yes, I am holding out for a better camera. I really wanted the Mark, but in all reality I am going to have to save my money for that bad boy. So I asked Santa for the new Canon EOS 70D with 18-135mm lens. It would be a huge upgrade from my Canon T2i but not as pricey as the Mark.

Anyhoo, back on topic...

As you can see from here and here and here and here I really don't need any more camera bags, but they are just so darn cute and functional that I can't help myself sometimes. And I am particularly drawn to the Jo Totes camera bags. I'm not sure if it is because the Rose was my first or not, but they are just so comfortable to carry and are so roomy.

This time when I started looking for a camera bag I wanted something that I could carry with me everywhere and that would not only my camera, but all my other stuff too. So I read review after review, blog after blog and countless pictures. 

And then I found her.

I found the Jo Totes Gracie in Mint. Originally I wanted the Missy in Mint but thought that she would be too big for my day to day use. So I waited patiently for my very special delivery to arrive.... 

It arrived this morning at 6:37am. Yes, I said AM. I'm not complaining though. They were really nice and just left it on my doorstep for me to find after I took the boys to school. Best way to start your day. 

As I tore open the box. Carefully of course. I noticed that the bag shape was slightly off.

When I opened the dust bag I was surprised to see inside was the Missy in Mint! Not the Gracie. And you know what... she was beautiful! I swear the pictures do not do this bag justice. 

I do want to take a minute and tell you all how helpful Jo Totes was with the mixup. I contacted them this morning about it via email and they responded very quickly. After I explained the situation they emailed me back and told me that they were going to be sending out the right bag right away. It's companies and people like that that restore your fait in humanity and let you know that there are still companies that care about their customers. I CAN NOT THANK THEM ENOUGH FOR THEIR GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE! I HIGHLY recommend Jo Totes and they will be my first choice the next time I am needing a new camera bag!

There is so much room on the inside. It has pockets on both sides, a place to put your iPad, laptop or whatever you need it for. Personally I will be using it for my planner since my iPad is older than my grandma. 

It came with 5 dividers. I am sure that I will rearrange this a million times before I find the perfect one, but for now this is the way I left it. There is plenty of room for my camera, an extra lens (50mm f/1.4), my wallet, planner and anything else I decide to throw in on the go.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A little bit of Christmas

This morning Tyler was up at 3:15am. Yes, AM!

He had dressed himself, made his and his brothers lunches, picked up his mess, brushed his teeth and was ready for school. He then decided I needed to wake up because he was ready to go to school. 

If only he had this enthusiasm everyday. *sigh* Most days are a struggle to even get him to do his homework so I will take the good days when I can get them and just pray that they come along more ofter. 

When I tried telling him that he was going to be tired come this afternoon he responded by telling me that he took a little nap so he was going to be good to go. Haha. The things that boy comes up with. 

Once I had all the kiddos dropped at school I was able to get a head start on my day. I finished my Christmas shopping, wrapped all my presents, picked up the house and even made a delicious soup for lunch! Go me! 

Now that I feel somewhat accomplished I thought it would be a good time to show off some of my holiday decor! 

My living room and mantle

My lovely leopard 'tree skirt'. I couldn't find a tree skirt that I liked so a couple of years ago I bought some leopard fabric and I just wrap it around the bottom of my tree. It's not fancy, but I love it!

A few of our fave ornaments...

Our coffee table centerpiece. It looks really pretty here, but my cat has knocked off half the berried and likes to scratch the candle. I think next year I am due for a new centerpiece. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

a little bit of halloween

Can you believe that Halloween is just a little over a week away?

This year I am looking forward to a low key time with my boys and friends. 

Plus, this year it is going to be a little hard with it being my dad's birthday and my dads favorite holiday so I am just wanting to relax with the people that I love. I am hoping that they will help take my mind off the fact that he is not here with us this year. 

But one thing I did do this year that I have never done is decorate my front walkway! 

I know, it is pretty exciting right? I thought so too!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Short hair, Don't care!

Last week my long awaited hair appt. arrived. I had no idea what I was going to do!

Did I want to stay blonde? Do I cut it? Did I just want to shave my head?

These were some of the questions I had been asking myself for two weeks. But when it came down to it and I sat down in that chair I knew exactly what to do :)

Here I was a couple of weeks ago at a charity cook off.
(Sorry for the bad pic. It was really bad lighting)

In the chair...


Before and After

Monday, September 22, 2014

Did my child really say that?

As much as I wanted to post about our lovely Fall weather, today I am going to get real and pour out my confused, broken heart.

Jacob, my third grader has had a rough couple of years at school.  He is a very emotional child that is extremely tender hearted and tends to overreact in certain situations. On top of all of that he has had a very, very rough time making friends. I have tried helping him but he can be overwhelming for some kids.

Everything got so bad last week and he got so upset that he told his teacher that he wanted to kill himself with a pencil.

Now, a few days after I have let it all set in and gone through every emotion imaginable I see where he was overreacting and lashing out for attention. But sadly, the effects of the statement have not gone away. The school takes these kinds of things very seriously and he does not quite understand why they are making it seem like he is crazy. Knowing my son I do not feel like he is going to harm himself in any way.

There are just so many questions running through my mind. What am I supposed to do or say in a situation like this? Are we not doing enough to show him we love him?

These are a few of the questions that I have been asking myself this last weekend. My mind is like mush. At his appointment today with his pediatrician they suggested that he see a psychiatrist and we discuss him being medicated. See my mind is pure mush. I don't think that medicating him is going to solve these problems. And I definitely don't want him to think that anytime you have a problem that we just mask it with pills. Is that wrong?

As a mother it breaks my heart to see my child so upset. I would give anything to help him make friends and take away his pain. And I definitely don't want people to think that he is crazy!

I guess one of the reasons I am writing this is hoping that there is someone out there that has been through the same thing and has some advice for me.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Another school year has begun...

Today was the boys 1st day of school.

Normally on the first day of school after I drop off the kids I go back home and do a happy dance. But this year. I am sad that summer is officially over. O-V-E-R. I feel like we didn't get to do as much this summer as we have in summers past. It's like time flew by and we completely missed it.

I might be grasping at straws here but my boys are growing up way too fast. Jacob is still to little to be a 3rd grader. I mean is that even possible? And Tyler. I just dropped him off at his first day of Kindergarten. There is no way he is a 1st grader. This mama is just so sad that her babies are growing up. I don't even want to think about what the teenage years are going to be like.

This year I am super excited for my boys. They have great teachers and some kids in their classes that they know.  But mostly this year I pray that Jacob has a much better year than he did last year. It was hard on all of us, but I know it was really hard on him. Being teased and made fun of is no easy thing to go through. He is such a sweet boy and I pray that he finds his place and some great friends.

Friday, August 8, 2014

|| t h i r t y ||

Today is my last day in my twenties. Just typing it makes it seem more real than before. Just like that I am no longer a twenty-something, I am a woman in my thirties.

When I used to think about this day I was horrified. 

I absolutely dreaded it!

Deep down I thought that I had not accomplished enough while in my twenties. But when I sat and thought about it I had accomplished a TON!

I married the man of my dreams. 
Bought a house. 
Gave birth to not only one but TWO wonderful boys. 
We started a business. 
Started doing photography. 
Went back to school. 

Just to name a few... 

Now that I have gotten over being depressed about the whole thing tomorrow also marks 8 months since my dad has been gone. It seems surreal that it has been that long. I know that tomorrow morning I am going to wake up and wait for his call, the one he made every year, at the exact time of my birth. He was just awesome like that. It makes me incredibly sad to think that I will be celebrating this milestone in my life without him. Then I remember that my daddy is in heaven, no longer in pain and loving every minute of it.

I am ready to face this next year ahead with confidence and joy for the things I have been blessed with. I am going to smile more. Eat better. Workout more often (ya right!). Drink less. Continue to love on those sweet, precious boys of mine. Go on more dates with my husband. Live more intentionally. Spend more time with God. Clean my house more. Meet new friends. Go outside my comfort zone every now and then.

Okay 30. Lets do this! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Planning Summer Fun Activities

Summer has been in full swing for the past 6 weeks and we still have another 5 1/2 weeks to go so I am always looking for fun things to do with the kids in and around our town. It would be nice to live closer to super cool, fun things to do but we don't. Around here we have to get creative when we want to take the kids to do fun stuff. And even though my kids will be splitting time between my hubby's work and here at home with me I would love to have a few things that we can go do just so we are not cooped up in the house. No kid wants to be stuck at home with their mom all day.

Here are some great ideas for this summer...

Go to the Movies
Every summer Cinemark movie theaters has a summer movie clubhouse. It's 10 kids movies, all rated G or PG, for $1 a movie or all ten for $5. If you are willing to take your own snack rather than buy them there it is a super cheap thing to do. If not this last week I spent almost $20 on small popcorns and small cokes for just us three. So I highly recommend throwing some snacks in an oversized purse. But don't tell them I told you that :) If you are interested you can go to Cinemark's Summer Movie Clubhouse home page to find a participating theater near you. These are the movies showing at our theater:

Last summer I discovered the website Kids Bowl Free. It allows you to register each of your children to bowl 2 FREE games every day this summer. You will have to pay for yourself if you would like to bowl with your children, but sometimes they will let you bowl with your kids for free if they are not busy. You will also have to pay for shoe rentals, but most days they are only $1 (except on the weekends).

Even though I have a swimming pool in the backyard sometimes it is fun to head to the city pool for the afternoon and meet up with cousins or friends that we rarely get to see. For me and the boys to get in for the afternoon it is $9 and we bring our own water and snacks. And then on Tuesday and Thursday nights they have family nights and only charge $4.50 for a family of four. 

And no day of swimming is complete without stopping for a snow cone on the way home. 

Local Baseball Games
My boys love to watch baseball with their dad and I feel horrible that we have never taken them to a local baseball game. This summer we are going to change that. Although it is probably one of the most expensive things we can do as a family this summer (about $10 a person + the cost of dinner while we are there), but it is great family fun and they host a ton of theme nights or nights where they give away prizes. 

Picnic at the Park and Bike Riding
Who doesn't love a good picnic and bike ride? Most kids would love to pack a lunch head off to the park and ride around for a while. We are lucky that there is a park so close. It would be super easy to pack up a backpack full of lunch and then ride around the neighborhood after we got done eating. It's a day worth of a nap when you get home. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Our Austin Trip 2014

While on hiatus these past couple of weeks Michael and I celebrated 9 wonderfully happy, crazy and sometimes downright stressful years of marriage!

So far it has been quite a ride. Even after everything we have been through, the good, the bad and the ugly I would not change one minute of it. I am incredibly blessed. God could not have given me a better man. He is a wonderful and I look forward to rest of our lives together. 

This year for our anniversary we decided to take a family trip to Austin. And since our anniversary is so close to the 4th of July we just made a weekend of it. 

While we were gone I should have taken more pics. But to be honest most of the time I just got caught up in the fun and ended up forgetting to take pics. Damn the fun! However, I did get some so I will share our Anniversary/July 4th weekend with y'all.

Thursday July 3rd: 
We didn't get in until late afternoon so we didn't so much. All we had time to do was check in to the hotel and eat dinner before it was time to crawl into bed and prepare for the 4th of July fun ahead. When we travel by ourselves we like to stop everywhere and take our time. Not being on a time schedule is the best way to travel! 

We were excited to see some afternoon thunderstorms roll in. Rain is always a good thing!

When we got to town we went out to eat with our cousin. I don't know how he does it, but he always picks the best places to eat. (And I just realized how blurry this photo is. Eeeek!)

What would any vacation be if you didn't take at least one picture of your food :)
Z Tejas Grill has an amazing crispy salmon!

Friday July 4th
We got up early to eat breakfast and then drive the hour and half to the Guadalupe River for a day of floating fun! After getting everything in order and hauling our massive tubes down to the river we were off for 5 hours of fun in the hot Texas sun. We ended up making several new friends and at the end of the night we took the boys to their very first concert to see the Eli Young Band. It was probably the best 4th of July I have ever had.

We fell in LOVE with Torchy's a while back in Dallas. Now we have to eat there all the time. We were lucky to find one just a few blocks from our hotel so we ate there EVERY SINGLE morning for breakfast.


And were off... 

Perfect way to end a wonderful day!

Saturday July 5th
This just so happened to be a recovery day for all of us. We were so exhausted from all the fun and sun we got the day before that we drove around Austin looking at all kinds of fun things. We got to take the boys to the Texas State Capitol! Neither Michael or I had ever been so it was something we could all experience for the first time together.

Texas State Capitol

I love these guys!!!

Here we all are inside the capitol.
The boys had a blast!

We couldn't help but laugh at this sign at Whole Foods. 

To be honest we came here every day. Our bedtime snack was fresh fruit. Yum! I would love to have one of these here in town, but until then I will just dream of the day I get to go back. *sigh*

We even made it to The Container Store. Have you ever been there? If not I suggest you go. It was probably the coolest store I have ever been in. I loved it!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Crockpot Meatloaf

Happy Monday Everyone!

Hope y'all all had a fantastic weekend.

This week I have a super easy recipe that is sure to be a family favorite! I have had meatloaf before and to be honest it has not been one of my favorites. It is either dry or too sweet or doesn't have any flavor at all. But for some reason I have been craving meatloaf so I decided to try and put together a recipe that would be moist and flavorful. It came out fantastic! Everyone loved it so much that there were no leftovers at the end of the evening.

1.5 lbs. ground beef
1/2 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
Dash or tow of Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. mustard
1/2 can tomato sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
Salt and Pepper

1/2 can tomato sauce
2 heaping tbs. ketchup

1. Preheat your oven to 400*. You can always prepare it ahead of time and refrigerate until you are ready to cook it.

2. Mix all the meatloaf ingredients in a large bowl. You can either use a spoon or your hands. I find the spoon to be a lot less messy and just as effective.

3. Place tin foil on a baking sheet. Spray with olive oil spray. Place meatloaf of the pan and shape into a loaf.

3. Bake in oven for 1 hour or until internal temp reaches 165*.

4. Mix the other half of the tomato sauce with the ketchup and spread over top of the meatloaf. Bake for another 10 minutes. 

If you are going to make it a crockpot/freezer meal:
If you want to make this a freezer meal prepare the Meatloaf as if you were going to bake it. Once it is all mixed together shape it into a loaf and vacuum seal or place in a freezer safe bag. When ready to cook thaw completely and cook in the over at 400* for 45 - 60 minutes and then top with tomato sauce/ketchup mixture or you can place in the crockpot with topping and cook on low for at least 8 hours.

For the green beans:

Sautee two slices of bacon in a pan until cooked. Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic and cook for another 60 seconds. Next add a bag of frozen whole green beans and stir until green beans are coated with bacon grease. Place a lid on the pan and let cook until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Best green beans EVER!

Friday, June 20, 2014

oh stormy day

Wednesday as I was sitting in the living room watching some TV before everyone got home for the evening when I noticed that there were some pretty dark storm clouds heading our way. Not too soon after the boys walked through the door. They made it just in time too. Not too long after they came in the sky started getting really dark and the wind started blowing. We decided that since it is very rare that we get good storms these days we would sit outside and watch it and all it's glory.

Sadly our neighborhood got about 5 minutes of rain and 15 minutes of wind while 2 miles away got 2.5" of rain. It was really disappointing. Either way the boys had a fun time riding their bikes outside listening to the thunder and watching the lightning.  

After we were done playing in the drizzle that fell from the sky we headed inside for dinner where I had been cooking these crockpot chicken tacos all day. I originally found the recipe from Chocolate Therapy but made my own taco seasoning instead of using the packaged kind. I just like homemade better than the packaged stuff.

6 boneless skinless chicken breast
2 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning or 1 pkg taco seasoning
1 jar salsa - I used mild pace picante

Taco Seasoning Recipe:
2 tablespoons chili powder
1.5 tablespoons paprika
1.5 tablespoons cumin
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Dash of cayenne pepper
You can double the recipe if you like to have more on hand for a later date! 

1. Place all ingredients in the crockpot. Give it a good stir. 

2. Set on HI and cook for 6-8 hours. Chicken should fall apart when you stir with a fork.

3. Serve chicken on warm flour tortillas with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole and salsa.

You can even freeze and use your leftover meat to make an easy Chicken Tortilla Soup!
(recipe to come later)

For the rice:
Rice is one of Tyler's favorite things to eat so when he asked me if I bought the rice just for him I took that as the highest of compliments from a 6 year old. 

2 cups of long grain white rice
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon oil
Spanish rice seasoning
Knorr Caldo de Tomate seasoning

1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the rice and cook until slightly browned.

2. Add the entire can of diced tomatoes with juice, the water, spanish rice seasoning and caldo seasoning.

3. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and cook on low until rice in cooked. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

:: the start of summer and a menu plan ::

Happy Monday Ya'll!

It is officially summer...

And mohawk  season!!!

Friday, May 30, 2014

pizza friday's

Back in the day when the boys were a little younger, okay more like last summer, we always designated Friday nights as pizza and a movie night. We let the boys pick a movie and we would all pile up on the couch and just hang out as a family. It was great! I loved our Friday nights! I miss our Friday nights. I think they are going to make a come back really soon. 

When we were poor I would always make home made pizza, but then it just got easier to order Dominos (and less messy too!). But then I started to miss making home homemade pizza with the boys. 

Does it make a HUGE mess? Yes, of course it does. But it can be cleaned. 

Do they always eat the ingredients before they make it onto the actual pizzas? Duh! What kid wouldn't?

But it always so much fun to gather in the kitchen and pick out what they want on their own pizzas. I mean look at these happy faces...



Now our big thing has been cooking outside. With the weather so nice these past few weeks it makes it really hard to not want to cook outside. Then on Pinterest one day I saw that people were grilling pizza. 

Ya, I know. I thought they were crazy too. 

After seeing several pics of people grilling pizza and doing some more reading into it I thought I would give it a shot. worst thing that could happen is I completely screw it up and we eat takeout that night.

2 boxes Jiffy pizza crust or you can make your own using the recipe below
Pizza sauce
Mozzarella cheese

Pizza Toppings of Your Choice:
Pepperoni        Ground Beef 
Sausage                  Ham
Chicken               Pesto
Peppers                 Onions
Olives               JalapeƱos
Mix and match with whatever you like! 

1. Start by making your crust. Either out of a box or from scratch. While your crust is rising, preheat your grill.
2. Once your dough has risen, form a ball and cut in half. 
3. On a piece of wax paper brush on some olive oil.
4. With each half roll out a crust on the oiled wax paper. You don't want to go to thin or it will not work on the grill. 
5. Gather all of your toppings so they will be easily accessible. 
6. Once you are ready to grill your pizza flip your crust over so that the wax paper is facing up. The wax paper will will pull right off. 
7. Let the crust cook with the lid open for 6-8 minutes (mine was on medium)
8. Once cooked flip over and start applying your sauce then toppings.
9. Close lid and let cook another 5 minutes.
10. Remove from grill, let cool and enjoy!