Thursday, April 28, 2011

My new iPhone obsession

So just popping in real quick to tell y'all that I have a new toy.
I was jealous of everyone who had smart phones, so I went and got one too. :) I got mine with AT&T. It's a refurbished one, so it was about $100 less than the new ones. Score. 

Now I can keep up with you guys when I'm away from the house.

And I must admit, the apps are amazingly addictive. Last night I had to sit in our rocker holding my daughter while she slept, because she's sick and WILL NOT SLEEP IN HER CRIB.  I didn't get to sleep at all, but I did play a ton of angry birds, words with friends, and checked in on Facebook and Twitter, all while watching season 1 of Friday Night Lights on my laptop.  Thanks Netflix. 

And the my favorite app to play with so far has been Instagram. I love the pictures you can take and play around with on it.



Okay, guess the whole point of my post is to tell you, that I love the iPhone 4 and you should go out and buy one too. :P

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring Sale!! Everything is 20% off

That's right I am having a sale!

EVERYTHING in my etsy shop is currently on sale!  All you have to do is use the special discount code at checkout to get 20% off.

Just enter WONDER20  This code will be good until Sunday, May 1, 2011.

Awesome right?

And look at the fun new things I added!

A vintage twisted gold wrap bracelet...
 A silver bird charm on a thin silver chain....
 I thought this was a fun trio to put together, a silver bird, a light green gemstone, and small glass beads, all hang from a thin silver chain.

A rustic bronze chain, with a cute, detailed flower, and fun beaded charms....


And my favorite piece, a gold filigree necklace with silver and gold chains.


And I have lots more I am going to be adding This week.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Crock-Pot Lasagna

This recipe for Crock-Pot Lasagna was sent to me from Kim Muro, from Mama's Monologues.  I met Kim through blogging and we've become twitter pals too. :)  Did I not tell ya Twitter is where it's at?  If you're on twitter come find me so we can be buds too, okay? You can search for me @alwaysnwonder, or follow the link on my sidebar at the top, or just click HERE.

Back to Kim.  She has a very cool blog where she talks about her family, staying fit, and tells crazy good stories about her life. 

This recipe is shown exactly how Kim emailed it to me, but like usual, anything I changed/modified is shown and explained **.

Crock-pot Lasagna:
Ingredients:
1 lb. Italian sausage (OR 1 lb. ground meat) (**I bought Italian Sausages made from Turkey)
1  26 oz jar pasta sauce
3/4 cup water
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
1  15 oz container ricotta cheese
1  8 oz package shredded Italian blend cheeses (**I forgot to pick up Italian cheese blend, so I used what I had on hand. Shredded Colby Jack and Parmesan. Shut up. It was just as good!)
 

Lightly coat the inside of crock-pot with cooking spray; set aside. In a large skillet cook sausage (or meat) until brown. (If I'm using sausage I brown it halfway, then cut it up into almost bite size pieces and let it cook the rest of the way.)  Drain off fat. Stir in pasta sauce and water.

Place 1/2 cup of the meat mixture in the bottom of the prepared crock-pot. Layer 4 of the noodles (break to fit) on top of the meat. Top with 1/3 of the ricotta cheese, 1/3 of the remaining meat mixture, and 1/3 of the shredded cheese. Repeat layers twice starting with noodles and ending with meat mixture. Set the remaining shredded cheese aside.




Cover and cook on low heat setting for 4-6 hours or on high heat for 2-3 hours.

Uncover; sprinkle lasagna with remaining shredded cheese. Let stand, uncovered, for 15 minutes before serving.

Use your judgement on cooking time. I put mine on low for closer to 3 hours and that's plenty of time.
 
People...this was a huge hit!  It was so easy and delicious. It looked and smelled so good, we didn't even wait for it to cool down. 
 
My husband loved that it wasn't too saucy, and the Italian Sausage gave it a great flavor.  I would definitely recommend making this if you love lasagna, but don't want to slave for hours making it.  We'll be having it again I'm sure.
 
Hope you guys stop by Kim's blog, Mama's Monologues and tell her "Hi" too. I promise she doesn't bite.  Thanks for the great recipe Kim!
 
Reminder for all you who sent in your recipes:

On April 30th I am picking one random winner to win a copy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks Cookbook, and the other awesome prize you can win to use in your kitchen. 

I think it's finally time to reveal that second prize...
The winner will receive a $40.00 gift card to Amazon.com  (This way you can shop for something you want or need for your kitchen. Plus I had such a hard time choosing from all of their awesome items, I didn't want that responsibility!)

Once the winner is picked and announced and/or messaged they will have 48 hours to contact me back, or I will choose another winner. 

Taco Soup

This recipe for Taco Soup was sent to me from Mary Bevins. She is Mary from The Crafty Gals blog.  I love the blog name too. Makes her seem like she could be one of my cool crafty friends. :) 

Mary got this recipe from her friend Jeni, and altered it a little to make it a vegetarian soup. Nothing wrong with a veggie soup every now and then right? My husband, the anti-veggie man, is not nodding in agreement. ;)

I altered the soup a bit to fit what I had on hand, and threw in a little bit of seasonings. (Anything I changed is marked by ** and explained.)

TACO SOUP

Ingredients
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can corn  (**I only had frozen corn so I thawed it out and used it instead.)
1 can diced tomatoes (**I also threw in 4 small Roma tomatoes I had sitting on my counter.)
1 small can diced green chilies
1/2 bunch cilantro (**I forgot the darn cilantro!! Which is why I thought I should add extra seasonings.)
Buy all canned ingredients Low-Sodium and/or Organic. Empty all cans into large pot or crock pot. DO NOT DRAIN! It can either be made on the stove top which will need to simmer for about 30 minutes or it can cook in the crock pot on low all day while your out & about.
Chop cilantro & add right at the end so it keeps it's bright green color & fresh taste.
(**Here is what I added/changed: I drained the beans and added 2 cups of Organic and Low Sodium Chicken Broth.  I also added 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic (Did I mention I L-O-V-E garlic?), 1 chopped red onion, 1-2 tsp. of Oregano, 1-2 tsp. of Cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Yes I know I took a vegetarian soup and made it a non vegetarian soup. Will you vegetarians forgive me?)
(My favorite chicken broth from Pacific Foods.)

Soup is on baby!
Top it off:
Plain Greek Yogurt (rather than sour cream)(**I used sour cream since we didn't have yogurt) 
Diced red onion
Diced avocado
Tortilla chips-broken
Grated cheese-I like Colby Jack or Pepper Jack
Dish up & top with desired toppings. I love all the topping I listed above. Eat up & ENJOY!

Serves 6-8 hungry people.

I took Mary's advice and loaded up my soup with yummy toppings too!
Yummy avocado...
 Sour Cream, Colby Jack Cheese, and my favorite Tostitos. If you haven't tried them, YOU ARE MISSING OUT! I love them. Yo, Frito-Lay/Tostitos, if you need a chip spokeswoman, you know how to contact me, okay?

Okay, I know I should probably stick to the recipes given to me, at least one time, but you know me and my thing with rules and forgetfulness.  (I have to say, this is one reason I like Rachael Ray, she's not a rule follower either. And yeah, I know that sentence sucked gramatically.)

I have nothing but great things to say about this soup though. Besides being ridiculously easy, it tastes amazing too.  Seriously. I've always wanted to make a Chicken Tortilla Soup, and this is basically the same thing, minus the actual chicken. Which you could totally add in if you wanted too. (Hello roasted chickens, only $4.99!)  It's definitely a great soup to make on those nights where you don't really want to cook, but still want to eat something healthy.  

I hope you guys will stop in and tell Mary "Hi" on her blog, The Crafty Gals.  She's got lots more recipes and cool crafty ideas to read about.  Thanks for sending me the recipe Mary.

Reminder for all you who sent in your recipes:

On April 30th I am picking one random winner to win a copy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks Cookbook, and the other awesome prize you can win to use in your kitchen. 

I think it's finally time to reveal that second prize...
The winner will receive a $40.00 gift card to Amazon.com  (This way you can shop for something you want or need for your kitchen. Plus I had such a hard time choosing from all of their awesome items, I didn't want that responsibility!)

Once the winner is picked and announced and/or messaged they will have 48 hours to contact me back, or I will choose another winner. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

We went to the ZOO!

Yesterday we went to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. This was our 3rd time going with Levi, but our first time taking Rian. 


Levi just had to wear these light up Disney's Cars Sandals my mom bought him.
Can we all say, "Not cute."  They are one pair of shoes I definitely wouldn't have wanted to buy him.  Yeah, that's right, even I have standards of fashionably acceptable clothing.  Those shoes are not on any one's list. ;)  He really loves them though, even wanted to wear them to bed last night my mom said.

My mom even came with us to the zoo. 


And we met one of my friends and her family there to walk the zoo together.

Levi had an awesome time. Apparently he is no longer as shy as he once was. He was pretty smitten with my friend's 4 year old twins. He wanted to hold their hands, even though they got pretty annoyed by his two year old self. :)  They were good sports though. 


Levi now calls them, "His girls."  And when we came home it was upgraded to "girlfriends."  None of us have ever used the word girlfriend with him, so I am not sure how he knows it.  I also don't think he really meant girlfriend, because he is now calling a plastic dinosaur his girlfriend too. Haha.

We saw a lot of the animals, and there were minimal meltdowns from Levi, so it was a pretty awesome trip.




Later that night I had to run to the grocery store and Levi came with me. This is what happens to a kid who wakes up early and runs wild at the zoo.
He fell asleep as soon as we got to the store, and stayed asleep even after we got home.  Unfortunately for us, he did wake up....and now we're currently watching another darn Disney movie.  Did I mention it's past 1 AM? 

Hope you all are having a wonderful Easter Sunday. Praying God will keep all of you safe today.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Kids will be Kids RANT

There was a story on our local news tonight about a 16 yr old boy who STOLE a donation container that was for cancer patients.  Apparently he was in a grocery/convenience store and waited until the cashier turned her back and then grabbed the container full of money and walked out.  They had him on tape and police were investigating. 

Word got back to his mother through some of his friends, who told her what he had done.  She took him down to their local police station and turned him in. (Yay mom.)  The 16 year old boy decided he would issue a statement or an apology to a local news station, and his mom agreed to let him, as long as his face wasn't shown on camera. 

The boy told the reporter he didn't know why he did it, that it was "confusing for him too." And he said, "I let my intentions take over. I didn't know it was for cancer patients."  Darn right you let your intentions take over. Your intent was to STEAL the money, so you did.  And if the donation money were for anyone else, the stealing would have been ok?  Who cares if the money was for cancer patients or a sick puppy. It wasn't YOUR money and it was wrong to take it. NO. MATTER. WHAT.

The reporter then interviewed the store owner/clerk who said she wasn't mad at the kid, and I'm going to quote her, "Kids will be kids."  What the heck? Kids will be kids?  How is it okay or acceptable for teenager to steal money, just because he is only 16? 

This is what's wrong with people. No accountability, no consequences. 

Man...if that had been my kid I think I would have made him wear a sign for a week that said I stole money from a store. Please keep an eye on me. 

What about you guys? How do you feel about it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Project 16:9 Week 2

(Click the button to see what Project 16:9 is)


This week's assignment was for us to write down everything that was keeping us from achieving our goals, and being who we wanted to be.  We had to make a list of what was holding us back, what was stopping us from dreaming big. 

After writing our list, we were to tear it up and throw it away...Let those negative things go. 

I know. Easier said than done, right?  I hang onto yucky feelings of self doubt, and worry, and just an overall feeling of not ever being good enough, like a person drowning in an ocean hangs onto a life preserver.  I can't seem to shake those feelings... no matter how many times I tell myself that God loves me, I am His child, I was created in His image, and GOD DOES NOT MAKE UGLY THINGS!

Courtney telling me to throw them away, to let them go, DID NOT make it any easier to do than it did when I told myself the same thing. 

After getting rid of the negative list, we were to make a plan for ourselves to help us achieve the goals we listed during WEEK 1.

So here you go....
MY PLAN
1.  I want to adopt one day- I know right now isn't the best time, we've got two kids that don't even sleep through the night, a car that won't hold another little, and no money saved up. BUT, I am excited to start praying about this desire, and ask God to help us know when the time is right. I am thankful that my husband is on the same page and wants to adopt also (that would have been step 1, convincing him, hehe).  Hopefully by next year we can look into starting classes, do a home study, and have some money saved up.

2.  I want to lose weight- Ugh, wish I could skip over this one. Seriously. This has been one of the most difficult struggles I have ever had to face in my life. I have tried diet after diet, I have tried exercise (my motivation fades when I don't lose weight fast enough), I have tried to conquer this battle on my own, and I always fail.  My plan would be to give this struggle over to God. I need to pray for Him to give me strength, the desire, the will power, and the ability to forgive myself if I fail.

3.  Have more patience- I can get so stressed and tired with my two littles. I know it seems wrong to get frustrated with a 9 month old or a 2 year old, but I have and I do.  I think part of it has to do with being home all day, not having anyone else to take out frustrations with (not on, but with, talking through things, having someone to vent to), and feeling so tired and stressed.  So my plan is to BREATHE! I am going to breathe first, respond second. I will remember that I don't have to add to my stress level by responding in anger or frustration. I can take 5,10, or even 15 seconds to think about the best way to discipline would be, and then take action.

4.  Raise my children to be faithful to the Lord- This is my most important job as a Christian mom. Some days I feel like I am doing a good job. I tell my son about God and Jesus, about being kind to others (especially his sister), and how God created the earth and everything in it. What more can you talk about with a 2 year old?  Other days I feel like a failure in this area because we aren't active in a church right now (not that you have to go to church to be a "good Christian", because you DON'T), and we don't actively serve in an organized ministry (again, not that you have to do this).  I completely believe that church doesn't save people, Christ does.  But I also know that God says fellowship with other believers is important, and it provides encouragement, support, and accountability.  I would like to find a home church, one that we can grow as believers in, one that we can grow as a family in, and one that will help grow our faith.

5.  Continue Blogging-  I am still trying to balance blogging, and other aspects of social media with family time, and caring for my kids. I feel like there aren't enough hours in each day. I honestly don't know how to accomplish all I want to accomplish without neglecting someone or somethings.  My husband and kids shouldn't be those someones though. I think I need to implement some kind of time limit or schedule so that I don't get consumed by the laptop during the day.   If anyone has any tips to help me, I would love to hear them.  How do you moms or busy ladies handle this dilemma?

6-7 .  Decorate my Home and Be Content with what I have done- this is a big struggle for me too. I have low self esteem and I feel like I everything I do never turns out right.  I know that I have way more than what I need, and I should be grateful for the what I do have. So my plan is to stop putting down my abilities, to stop second guessing my finished projects, and to stop focusing so much on what other people can do. I am going to be thankful for the talents and skills God gave me and feel grateful for the opportunities I have. This will mean I need to spend more time in the Word and more time thanking God for His blessings.

8. Grow in my Relationship with God- This is so important to my future and my well being right now. I need to have a strong healthy relationship with the Lord if I am going to accomplish any of my goals.  I haven't always had a strong relationship with Christ. At one point I tried to walk away from Him and it was the most destructive time I have ever had in my life.  I need to stop taking this relationship for granted as well and spend time with Him.

9-10.  Feel Successful at Something & Gain Self Esteem- I think this has kind of been the theme of this post, wouldn't you agree? I feel somewhat like a broken record here, but maybe I need that kind of repetition to really get the fact that I need God to move in me and restore my heart and my mind before I can accomplish anything else on the list.  I can't seem to type this enough, I need to PRAY, SEEK HIM, and READ HIS WORD. 

Thanks for bearing with my though my awkward attempts to do this great study. Hopefully you'll be somewhat inspired or at least reflective on the areas in your life you might want to change or focus on more. 

 



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Jo Totes bag

A week ago I won a giveaway that Jen from Tatertots and Jello was having. It was for an awesome Jo Totes camera bag

It came yesterday afternoon. And now I am pretty sure I am never leaving my camera at home ever again.


I love this bag.
How about the tag says, "Camera bags, for ladies." How cute is that?

It's so much fun to create different compartments and organize everything too.
See all of those padded dividers? You can change them, move them around, create any kind of organized space you want.  And the bag is big enough to hold other thigns besides your camera. I put my camera, my extra lens, my wallet, 4 diapers, wipes, two straw travel cups with water for my kiddos, and some snacks for them.

The best part is, I won'thave to worry about my camera or my other lense getting beat up in my purse when I want to take it with me.

Did I mention I love this bag? Okay, good.

And if you want to get one for yourself, just head over to Jo Totes. They have so many cute styles and colors to choose from.

Like this one

Or this one


I want them all!

Dinner, or just a late Breakfast...


Thank you to Log Cabin for sponsoring my post about updated traditions in my household. To learn more about Log Cabin Syrups (which are all free of High Fructose Corn Syrup), breakfast for dinner, and other new ways to update traditions in your home, click here.I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.


I think if you read my blog for even a little bit, you learn that we are a family that doesn't adhere to strict rules, schedules, or stuffy traditions.  I mean, I am the mom to a clever 2 year old insomniac, and to a sassy 9 month old who also thinks sleep is way overrated. How can I uphold schedules, and rules when I am barely keeping my eyes open?

It has been impossible to get either one of my kids on a sleep schedule.  Most nights we (all 4 of us) don't head to bed until well after midnight or 1 am.  I've often had people tell me, "Well if you can just get them to go to sleep earlier, they'll wake up earlier..." and "Don't let them take naps during the day, and then they'll be tired at night."  Well guess what? My kids don't nap during the day, and they still don't go to bed early.  My guess is, they get their crazy from their dad. Hehe. 

After two years of flying by the seat of your pants kind of parenting, I have decided to stop trying so hard to adhere to everyone else's normal.  We have our normal. Going to bed late. Waiting till 2 or 3 PM for my son to wake up from sleeping in.  Not being able to leave the house and run errands until it's quitting time for most people.  You know, the exact opposite of "real normal." 

But at least it's working for us, right...? For now anyway. 

5 Awesome Things About Having Kids Who Don't Follow Schedules/Rules/Traditional Kid Things

1. I might not always be able to tell you what happened on Regis and Kelly, but I can name every guest that was on the Jimmy Kimmel show the night before. 
2. I never have to deal with morning traffic. Or after school traffic. 
3. Grocery shopping at midnight with two littles can be fun. Or at least that's what I tell people.
4. So what if some of the stores I want to visit close before 5 PM.  That just means we're saving money.
5. And on more than one occassion, breakfast at dinner time, really was exactly that. 





There's nothing better than French Toast and Bacon at 6 o'clock at night, is there?

Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers with Pineapple Dipping Sauce


This recipe was sent to me from Tina Barnwell. Tina found this recipe from Our Best Bites. I must say when I read the title of the recipe I was immediately curious. I really hoped it would be chosen. Thank you Mr. Random.org. 

Tina has an amazing life.  Okay well, I think it is amazing.  She and her husband and children live in Spain right now. They are missionaries. How awesome is that?  (I have a secret, I have always wanted to be a missionary to a foreign country, but am scared I don't have what it takes.  Tina does y'all.)  She and her husband have hearts for serving, and helping the lost.  Tina even blogs about her life. You can read about her life on her blog, Life of a Missy Mom.

Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers with Pineapple Dipping Sauce (from ourbestbites.com)
Ingredients:
12 chicken tenders
1-2 eggs (start with one and crack another if it runs out)
1/2 C flour
1 C sweetened coconut flakes
1 C panko bread crumbs
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
Cooking instructions
preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Give coconut a rough chop so it's about the same size as the panko pieces.

Combine it with Panko and spices in a shallow dish. Mix well to distribute all of the spices.

Place the flour in another shallow dish, and the egg in another. Give the egg a quick beating.

Working with one chicken tender at a time, dredge in flour.
 

Dip in egg. 
 

Then finally coat in the coconut Panko mixture. Press in with your fingers to make sure the entire thing is well coated.

Place chicken tenders on a foil-lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. You can drizzle or spray olive oil on top for a crispier tender.
Bake in 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until juices run clear. If tenders are on the small side, they could even be done in about 15 minutes. If they're big they can take more like 25. The coconut will be nice and golden and the panko crisp, but light in color still.

**We did cooked ours for 20 minutes, and the coconut and panko got a little dark, but definitely not burnt. I think 15-18 minutes would have been perfect.

Pineapple Dipping Sauce
1 cup yogurt (I've used pineapple yogurt too or even sour cream)
1 can pineapple tidbits
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/4 cup coconut
2 Tbsp coconut milk (if you don't have this, you can use regular milk)
Combine all, refrigerate until ready to use. 
 Honestly I'm not sure if I made the sauce right, or made it too runny? It tasted great though. And because of the sweet flavor my husband loved it.
 
This recipe was really good. The chicken had a great flavor, a little sweet, crunchy, and still tender.
 
And did I mention it is kid tested and APPROVED? ;)



 
Just a reminder to the rest of you lovely readers. To enter April's Giveaway all you have to do is EMAIL ME your recipes or any recipe you like. Each recipe you send counts as 1 entry. 

You can EMAIL ME recipes up until APRIL 22, 2011.

On APRIL 30, 2011 I will randomly choose one winner.


Giveaway prize will include- The Pioneer Woman Cooks Cookbook and another awesome item(s) for you to use in your kitchen.

Send your recipes to alwaysinwonder@aol.com