Sunday, August 29, 2010

Peace Out

Peace is not overrated friends. Today was a total day of peace for our family! Here are a couple of pics I thought I would share that show just a taste of our day. Our peaceful morning began with a morning of worship with our family...doesn't get any better than that for us! After church, we headed to Costco to pick up some food for a family bbq. Marty and Melissa were in town so they came over after we got home. Joy, Ron and Margaret came over as well and we cooked up a wonderful lunch. We lounged on the couch together, watched a movie, went outside and just SAT and enjoyed the cool beach-like weather. Brandon got out his RC truck and plaved with the girls and his brother on the track. We also spent a lot of time loving on the puppies today. Having a two week old puppy fall asleep in your hands gives you the "warm fuzzies" like you couldn't believe. Then several of us lounged on the couch just talking and enjoying our loved ones. I love my life! Melissa and Emma snuggling on the couch this afternoon. Emma kept saying "who's gonna snuggle with me!?"
I love how she tells stories with her hands.

This is the puppy we named Biscuit, like the children's books. It was the runt of our litter and I wasn't sure if she would make it with SO many siblings, but she has! We LOVE her!!

Seriously people, does it get any more peaceful than this? =)

There is enough craziness going on in the world without letting it into your home. Make your home a haven of peace friends! =)

Friday, August 27, 2010

A kinder field trip

Today we went on a little field trip to Plaza Park. We had a choice of assignments and this was one of them! Cami's first week and a half of kindergarten has been spent on a book called "Make Way for Ducklings". We took some bread to feed the ducks. Cami was pointing out the characters from the book..."that's Mr. Mallard, that's Mrs. Mallard..."

We had to check out the new park! It's been there for awhile I guess, but it's new to us! The girls loved it!

Time to head home and hit the books after a quick stop off at the Learning Center! =) A great way to spend a Friday morning with my "students". =)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Polynesian Flank Steak

I have a fantastic beef marinade to share with you! I made this up last year sometime, trying to match something I had eaten. I didn't match it, but I think I actually improved on it! Flank steak is a cut of meat that you have to know how to properly prepare or it will be tough and not tasty. I marinade my meat as soon as I wake up, or the night before and stick it in the fridge.

Ingredients: flank steak, 1/2 bunch green onions, 1 lime juiced, 1/4-1/2 cup soy sauce, ginger (I keep a tube of ginger paste in my fridge so that I don't have to peel it, cut it, etc. but you can certainly buy fresh), garlic (minced, crushed or pressed), 1 medium size can crushed pineapple, freshly ground pepper.

Directions: Mix all ingredients in a gallon size ziploc bag, swish around to combine before adding the meat. Marinate at least a few hours. The acid in the lime juice will help tenderize this cut of meat.

Grill on a hot grill or grill pan. This cut is best cooked medium, pink in the center. Let it rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes, then cut across the grain of the meat into thin strips. It is very important to cut across the grain! (In case you don't know you HAVE to do this with tri-tip too or it won't taste nearly as good as it should! You'll thank me later if you didn't already know that)

Car load of Curriculum...literally!

Yesterday was our first individual teacher meeting. The girls had a great time meeting her. I was sent home with everything you see here. A million teacher's editions, the BIG books, and the workbooks to go along with them. I am SO excited to have all of this at my fingertips and it's FREE! Of course I have to return everything but the workbooks when we're done, but I am amazed that this is available to me! I am so thankful for the opportunity to homeschool and not be totally on my own AND unable to afford the curriculum. I just can't get over it! She did some basic assesments of the girls yesterday to see what they already know, and she was pleasantly surprised. Emma blew through the entire first grade required words so she said there is no point in even giving them to me. She gave me flash cards for the 2nd grade words, but they too are easy! She adjusted Emma's lesson plans before we even left after she had Emma do a DRA test. I think it's awesome that I have the capability to move quickly through the stuff that is easy for her, and eventually get to the material that will challenge her and we'll be able to move at the normal pace through the material. She was also amazed that Cami already can read the kindergarten required words. She only struggles with a few tricky ones right now. That pop for sight words game has really paid off in the past few weeks! If you are thinking about homeschooling in the near future and live in Visalia Unified School District, I highly recommend checking out Charter Home School Academy!! I could not ask for a better experience so far!

Taco Tuesdays!

I have never made fish tacos before, but saw these in Everyday Food and wanted to try them. They are SUPER healthy! Ingredients: corn tortillas, white fish (I used tilapia), cilantro, lime, red onion, red cabbage. Chop up your veggies. I like my cabbage pretty finely chopped.
This was enough fish to make 4 tacos. 3 thin filets of tilapia. Put it on parchment paper (for easier clean up), sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt and fresh pepper. Put a tiny dab of butter on top of each piece. Bake at 400 degrees until flaky, about 15 minutes.

Warm up your tortillas on the flame of your gas burners. Yes, I realize most people know to do this, but since I know my Ohio friends read this too, I'm throwing it out there. East coast people don't know to toast their tortillas, at least I never heard of it when I lived there. My mom never made any mexican food so I don't even think I ever tasted a tortilla till I moved to California! How crazy is that?! Oh wait, taco bell...but that doesn't really count. =)

Now you can flake up your fish into big chunks and assemble your tacos however you like! Squeeze on a lime wedge and you're good to go!

My hubby chose some mango peach chipotle salsa that I bought him at Crate & Barrel when I was in LA. The hubs LOVES mango salsa so I like to pick him up some whenever I spot it at a specialty store.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Hollywood adventure!

Yesterday I went on an adventure with my friend Dana. We drove to LA to go to a John Mayer concert, and here are some pictures of our day! Our day began as every day The Cheesecake Factory! Haha. We went to The Grove when we got to LA, ate and did some shopping! I love me some Crate & Barrel! After that, we went on the looong journey (a few miles down the road!) to find the correct parking lot that we wanted to park at for the shuttle to the Hollywood Bowl. It was not easy, lots of asking questions at many different places, but we finally found it, so now we know! I think we went on 30 escalators yesterday.
We got on our shuttle bus and it was HOT and stinky and there was no air moving at all. I will forever love the funky faces Dana posed for as we were waiting for them to turn on the bus! The other one came out blurry, but this face says it all. =)

Here we are in our seats! The 75 cent cushion rentals were a good call!

I really loved the Hollywood Bowl (with the exception of GETTING there!). I liked the set up, I don't think you could have a bad seat honestly. The Hollywood sign is right above the stage too!

This was one of the mountains to the left of the sign and I saw two people standing on the top...there must be a trail up there. I told Dana if Brandon was here, he would be watching for deer, haha.
There was a band called Owl City that the "young people" (ha! I'm only 28!) seemed to know and like. Dana and I were too busy spotting all of the ridiculous puns in their lyrics. They did end up having one song I knew at the end.

Here is, as he said, "John Mayer, opening for John Mayer". We didn't know what he meant, but he explained he flew this piano player out from New York just to play these four songs with him. The first three were different versions of his songs, and the last one was Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve. I LOVED his version of the song! Click on the link if you wanna see the video I took of it!

They took a short break and re-set the stage without the piano.

I don't think I will ever enjoy a musician live as much as I do him. I have said it for the past six years, and I'll say it again...GO SEE HIM LIVE! He must have been born with a guitar in his hands, because that boy knocks my socks off everytime! The past two concerts, I saw him in Fresno, but I enjoyed this one even more because of the venue I think he could do more. He is always doing something different and out of the box. I loved his cds, but live he can take liberties that you just don't have time to do with every song when it's recorded.

We walked down the ramp to the left of the stage on his last song so that we could beat the crowds and get our t-shirts. We were plotting the whole time we were sitting down how, if, when we could get them! It worked out too, because by going down that side, after he was done playing we were able to skip most of the crowd that goes down the other side on the people movers.

The shirt doesn't WAS a long night in Los Angeles! We got home at 2:30 am!

Here's Dana in her shirt! =) Love the pose!

The shuttle dropped us off right in front of the Kodak Theatre, at Hollywood & Highland.
A short block away was Mann's Chinese Theatre.

Earlier in the day, when we were searching for our parking garage, we saw people huddled on the sidewalk. We wondered if it was MJ, and we were right.

This psycho fan had made this posterboard with pics cut out of HER and MJ....even pasted in a locket. Hmm....
I snapped a bunch of pics of the star's signatures and prints in the entryway of the Chinese Theatre... here are just a few...George Lucas (above)

Steven Spielberg.
These next few were all in a row and had the same date, so it must have been for Ocean's Eleven.....sigh... Matt Damon
Brad Pitt
George Clooney
Here is my favorite actress...Meryl Streep

You would be amazed at how TINY the feet of some of the really older prints were! Ava Gardner, etc. They look like little munchkin high heels stepped on the cement!
I had a wonderful adventure, with an even more wonderful friend!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Love Birds

I am updating this post with Breanna's own pictures. You will easily be able to tell where her photos end and my original post, with my photos begin. Enjoy her beautiful pictures!

Mother of the bride and the bride-to-be!

Today was finally the big day! I have been dying to show you these things for the bridal shower as I have been making them, and now I finally can! Let's start at the beginning...The invitations! I printed them on vellum, and tied it all in with the B&B theme. I stamped on some special ribbon. The background was scrapbook paper that looks like old whitewashed wood. I cut the bird and branch on my Cricut.

If you have read my blog for a few months, you will notice many of my projects that I showed how to make as you look through the party pics. Here is one of my sous chefs helping assemble the Rosemary Skewers.

Nana actually let me take her picture pre-curling iron! Can you believe it?

Cami helping me to roll out yet more flatbread this morning..

Emma and Lexi were happy to just play Wii while everyone worked, haha.

Here is the gift table, pre-guest arrival.

Here are the tables. Cloth napkins. Green napkin rings. Other napkin rings.

I showed how to make the cloth napkins and napkin rings in previous blogs. To make the menus, I used the same method as I used for the pinwheels, then added two layers of cutouts from my cricut, then I printed menus, cut them out by hand, then used a bird punch that I got on clearance.

I got 5 coordinating patterned old books for $0.25 each at Rescued Treasures! The old patterned keys I picked up for 10 cents each at Old Paris on Main Street! I just tied them to large mason jars with jute.
We filled the jars with flowers and rosemary from Joy's backyard. We lit tealights in different cut crystal teacups that were borrowed.

I got the idea for these pinwheels from Your Homebased Mom's site. I just added my own ideas to them. I layered 2 dfferent papers for the wheels, then a cut shape from my cricut, then the B&B. When Bree sent her save the date cards, she included two different poses from their engagement pics. I decoupaged one inside each jar (they are pickle jars). After it dried, I filled with stones that I used to have in a pillar candle jar. I then wrapped with raffia ribbon. I bought a dollar's worth of lace at Wal-Mart and it was scalloped on both edges so I cut it in half length-wise and hot glued it to the edges of each wheel. I love the detail it added to them!

Here is the other one. Are you keeping tab so far? See what you can do with next to nothing and a little creativity?

I think that this menu holder was originally a soap caddy for a bathroom. I bought it for $1.35 at Goodwill. I cut a piece of berlap and laid it in the bottom, added moss and a green bird nestled in. I printed the menu, triple matted it and tied it on. It also had the bird punched detail at the top.

Here's the little birdie.

After I had all of that done, while shopping at Michaels one day I saw this little birdcage that was in the jewlery making section. It even has a tiny bird in it. It was about 3 bucks. Perfect size and the perfect detail!

I made this sign with the leftover papers I had from making the invitations. I cut the scallloped flower shapes, and letters, then used bird stickers that I found on clearance. I also made some clothespins with paper and birds on them to clip them to the ribbon.

Here is the table pre-food.

Here is the homemade flatbread.

White chocolate raspberry cake. Yum! Moistest cake EVER. Period. Exclamation point.

Here is the flatbread and bruschetta.

Rosemary Skewers. Beauty on a plate.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad.

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Bars and Chocolate Creme with raspberries.

Believe me, this is not chocolate pudding friends, it is chocolate creme. It is many steps, but it is so worth it! And you MUST, MUST I tell you, use Guittard chocolate when making it!

Here are the croque monsieur sandwiches. We did half ham and half Bree's version with prosciutto.
They are totally fat free. Riiiiight....

The one time you almost wish your 6 year old standing next to you can't read. Haha.

This frame is from Ikea, and I LOVE it! Originally we were going to have our party outdoors and I had this whole plan to put this on my giant whitewashed thingy that I have and surround it with little bottles of flowers. It would have been so funky and gorgeous, you'll just have to trust me because with the heat, that's where the idea will forever stay, in my mind. =) This was a good back-up adjustment. Joy has this gorgeous old dresser by the front door where we put the party favors, so we hung it above.

I didn't have the best quality photo so it didn't look ultra clear blown up but you get the idea. The thing underneath it I wrote with chalk on a gray piece of cardstock with a bird and branch shape I cut with my (what else?) cricut.

These are the favors that my WONDERFUL friend helped me to make. Homemade flatbread wrapped (first in a ziploc) in a $0.49 Ikea towel. I tied them up with raffia ribbon.

I printed up the recipe on cardstock and used the bird punch again. I slid a piece of colored cardstock between the front and back and then ran them through my laminator.

The last thing attached to the favors was a list of the websites where ALL of the recipes we tasted today came from. I am so glad I did this! There were so many people asking for them, so this was really handy!

The party turned out wonderful! I am SO thankful for all of the helping hands to make my plans happen on time!

Since I'm a mama and my kids and other family kids were going to be there, I made a kids table. We put it in the adjoining study, which thankfully has glass doors so we can see them but not hear them. =) These pics are what I did: covered the table in butcher paper, put out jars of crayons. Then I put together a little box for each girl ($1 section bendaroos from Michaels, roll of smarties, $1 section bead necklace kits from JoAnns). They loved it all and it kept them occupied for awhile.

Linking up to Bird's Party Blog