Monday, December 30, 2013

Granddad's Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Josh came home from work today with a stuffy nose. Ugh. We can't get sick. Especially with the flu going around.

Four years ago, almost exactly, I came down with swine flu, H1N1. It was the worst three months of my life. I was a freshman at UNR. There were about five of us that came down with it, and we were quarantined to our rooms, only able to leave for the doctor. I remember being up all night long shaking and shivering. I couldn't get warm. Nothing I ate would stay down. I coughed so much that my lungs would just ache. I kid you not, I have never been so sick in my life. I remember calling my mom in the middle of the night and begging her to make the eight hour drive to come get me, not that there was anything she could have done to help. And now, it's back. I saw on the news yesterday that five people have already died from it this year. We cannot get sick!

I'm sure what Josh has is just a cold or allergies because he has no fever, but I'm not taking any chances! We've loaded up on vitamin c and echinacea, I've got him drinking Gatorade and Pedialyte to keep hydrated, and I made a giant batch of granddad's homemade chicken noodle soup. This thing does the trick, let me tell you. We grew up eating this soup. Anytime anyone felt sick, granddad made us soup. I recently asked him to teach me how to make it, and now it is one of my favorite recipes, probably because it brings back so many memories.

On of the best things about this soup is that it is super easy. Besides cutting the vegetables and chicken, you really just sit back and wait for it all to come together. The other great thing is that it is very inexpensive to make. I made ten servings of soup today and spent less than five dollars!! That is $.50 a serving! The other great thing about this soup--I know, it keeps getting better :) --is that it freezes very well. I put the leftover soup in individual bags and freeze them so that we always have some on hand for a quick lunch or supper. The last thing I love about this soup is that it is homemade. Have you seen the label of these canned soups? Granddad has been watching his salt intake lately because he has high blood pressure, and these canned soups have like 900mg of sodium in them!! I make the broth from scratch. I cook the chicken myself, though you could use like a rotisserie if you wanted to. I chop all the veggies myself. The only thing I don't make myself is the noodles.

Okay, enough blabbing, let's get to the recipe, shall we.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Smoky Chicken and Bacon Tostadas

Hello!!! How was your Christmas? I hope you had a great time with your friends and family! We had a relaxing morning and went out for supper with my granddad in the evening. It was a nice day. No cooking, no cleaning.

The food was AH-mazing. We went to Don Vito's at the South Point.  I haven't been there since my grandma was alive, so that was interesting. The food was so good, I can't even tell you. Granddad and I had the turkey dinner and Josh had a steak. For dessert, Josh had a cappuccino cheesecake and I had an eggnog cannoli. Yum!!! If you are ever in Vegas, I highly recommend it. Our supper was $30 per person and included wine, bread, salad, the meal, dessert and coffee. Oh, and did I mention, it was AH-mazing! Totally worth every penny!

Not to be a Debbie downer, but I never got into the holiday spirit this year. I felt like I was going through the motions of the holidays, but never really felt the holiday spirit. I even took my tree and decorations down the day after Christmas. I really missed my family this year. Everyone lives so far away. I think that's why I never felt the spirit this year. We spent Thanksgiving with Josh's family. It was the first time in awhile that we were able to be with extended family for the holidays. After that, it just wasn't the same to spend the holidays by ourselves.

I took a little time off from writing for some much needed relaxation, but now I'm let's start things off with a bang!

I completely forgot about this recipe! This recipe comes from Pampered Chef. I made it about a year ago, and then put the cookbook on the shelf and forgot about it. The other day I was looking for something new to make for supper and stumbled across it. So exciting!

And let me tell you, this is to die for...literally. It is not a very healthy recipe, unfortunately. Between the bacon and the dressing made out of its grease, you are definitely going to need some Pepto before bed. It is totally worth it. It isn't something I could eat everyday, but it makes a great treat.

My granddad got us a toaster oven for Christmas, and I am thoroughly enjoying it! We cooked our chicken in it tonight and honestly, any chicken we've cooked in it has turned out absolutely amazing. It is so juicy and delicious. I'm sure there will be more recipes to come done in our oven, because I have used it like a hundred times since we got it.

Side note, this is what my kitchen looks like when bacon is being cooked.  Mommy has a bad habit of giving the boys people food so they are always ready and waiting for some bacon to come their way.  

Hubby's Opinion:
"It was a mix of sweet and savory. The chicken was very juicy."

So, with that, let's get to the recipe!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Crockpot Chili and Cornbread Waffles

Josh and I have been trying to eat clean since coming home from vacation. We haven't been eating fast food and have been trying to cut out processed foods. Usually when I make chili, I use one of those seasoning packets you get at the grocery store. I recently read that those packets are filled with salt and unhealthy chemicals, so I decided to try and make my own chili seasoning. It turned out better than I planned and I am so excited to share it with you!!

I like making crockpot meals on the nights that I work until 9pm so that I can come home and not have to worry about what to make for supper. The crockpot is like the greatest invention ever!

We also made cornbread waffles. I learned this trick on Pinterest. Any batter can be cooked in a waffle iron instead of the oven. Everything turns out crispy and yummy, and best of all, it only takes a couple minutes! We made our Cinnamon Roll Waffles this way as well.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Our Christmas Decorations

Yea!! It is December. Christmas is my favorite time of the year, probably because it is the only time in Las Vegas that it is not super hot here! I really don't do much decorating for the holidays. This is the first year that I have decorated a little bit in almost every room. Usually, I just put up the tree and call it a day. This year, I really wanted to get into the holiday spirit and decorate more.

I try to use only red and gold decorations, I know, I have mild OCD. I just really like everything to look cohesive and match. This year, my granddad gave me some of my grandma's decorations that are blue and white, so I have incorporated that into the decor.

Today I'll show you the inside of the house, and next week I'll show you the outside. The one thing you will not see today is my kitchen table. One of the things my granddad gave me were these little blue and white snowman plates that I have on the chargers on my kitchen table. One of them got knocked over the other day on accident. I have been looking everywhere a replacement, but they were something my grandma won at Station Casinos from gambling, so I am not finding it anywhere. :[ So, I am going to find something else to put on two of the four chargers and will show you that next week with the outside decor.

So, with that said, let's hop right in!

The most logical start of this tour is the front door! This is our entryway. On the left side of the entry, we have a shelf for our keys and a mirror. I added a little snow-globe a coworker gave me last year and a red and gold tree that I bought from Target my very first Christmas in my own house.

On the right side of the entry we have our entry table that Josh built for me. If you would like to see it in full, I can do a post on that. Josh originally built it as an island in our old house, but when we moved, I decoupaged it as an entry table. Anyways, that was a long introduction to the table. I usually just have a little Bath and Body candle on the right side of the table.  For the holidays I bought this little snowman candle holder from Goodwill and put a little pillar candle inside of it. We also have our box of mail and a little flower bouquet. I just bought this vase at Michael's over the weekend because little Oliver broke the other one while we were in California on vacation for Thanksgiving.

This is our coffee table and stockings. Yes, we do have stockings for our pets, and yes, there are already things in that's that. I made the candle holders on the right hand side of the table. I can do a tutorial on that if you are interested, they are pretty easy to make. The nativity set I bought at the dollar store actually. It is a pretty cute set. The lantern on the left usually has green and brown decorative balls in it, but for the holidays I thought I'd put some Christmas balls in there. I got the lantern at Fallas. Oh, and the stockings are from the dollar store as well.

Here is a closeup of the lantern. I hadn't put up the nativity set yet in this photo, but we usually have this little basket for the TV remotes in the center of the table.

On the couch we have a little snowman pillow that I got from Goodwill this year. It is super cute. I also have a snowflake blanket that I got a few years ago from Target.

Of course I had to save the best for last, the tree!!! We just bought this tree before we left for vacation from Lowe's. It was $120, but it looks so much like a real tree so it was worth the money! The tree we had before we purchased the first year that Josh and I lived together. It was like $20 from Big Lots and was super thin and crappy, but we've had it for three years so it was time for something new. I love this tree because the needles are plastic and actually look real, unlike most fake trees with the papery needles, if that makes sense. I love it, it makes me happy. I also love that you can't see the pole in the center, because that is my biggest Christmas pet-peeve. Oh, and it is a pre-lit tree which makes life much easier, let me tell you.

Here it is in full. I love it. The ornaments have just been collected over the years from Target, the dollar store and Walmart. I added the ribbon to the tree this year because I have seen it on all of the professionally done Christmas trees, so I had to copy them.

So, that is it. Make sure you come back to see the dining room table and the outdoor decorations!! Have a good Thursday! (Sorry all of my posts have been a day late this week, it is finals week at school!)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Crockpot Butternut Squash Soup

I recently reintroduced myself to squash. I had a bad experience with squash as a kid. True story... when I was about 8-years-old, my mom bought a squash lasagna from the Schwan's man. I kid you not, it was the grossest thing I have ever eaten in my life! I refused to eat it. My parents made me sit at the kitchen table until I finished eating. After hours of me pushing it around the plate, they gave up and ended up going to bed.  I fed the lasagna to my dog Copper. It was very traumatic- okay not really, but I could never eat squash after that. I also don't eat mushrooms because my 1st grade teacher told me they were made from ant throw-up, but that is a story for another time.

A few months ago, I decided it was time to be an adult and face my fears of squash, because, let's be real, there are much bigger things to be afraid of than a vegetable. I started simple, a yellow squash to put in my pasta sauce. Okay, that wasn't so bad. Then, I tried zucchini squash as a side dish. Hmm, also not bad. So, I went for the mac daddy, the butternut squash.

To be honest, this was the first and only recipe I have ever made with butternut squash. I should definitely try experimenting a little more with it because I have seen some very yummy looking recipes.

I use fresh squash, though you are certainly able to use frozen or packaged. Frozen or packaged squash is a lot easier to use, but I just like to use fresh.

If you use fresh, you will need to peel and dice the squash. This is tricky. The skin is pretty thick. My vegetable peeler isn't sharp enough to cut through it, so I use a knife. Though I did buy it at the dollar store, so you get what you pay for I guess. When picking a squash, you want to look for one that has a long top and smaller bottom. The bottom of the squash is mostly seeds, which you are going to scoop out. My first squash had a huge bottom and there was hardly any actual meat to it.

I love this soup. It is very creamy and is perfect for this colder weather. It does take a little bit of preparation if you are using fresh squash, but it would be a quick recipe if you use frozen or packaged. I hope you like it as much as we do!

What is your favorite way to use squash? Leave a comment below!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I Love Winter Tag

Christina's Answers:

1. Do you like the cold?
Yes, I love the cold. I have always said: When it is cold, you can always add more layers, but when it is hot, you can only take so much off. Josh and I definitely live in the wrong city for that though. Someday, we plan to move back to the Midwest. I grew up in South Dakota, and it gets very, very cold there. I do miss waking up to snow on Christmas morning.  

2. What is your favorite part about Fall/Winter?

I have a lot of favorite things about this time of year. First, I love the changing of the leaves. Again, not something that happens very often in Las Vegas. Funny thing about Palm Trees is that they stay green all year. I love cuddling up in a warm blanket with a hot cup of tea. I love taking Christmas photos. I love watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas music. I love Thanksgiving. I love seeing all the houses decorated in lights. This truly is my favorite time of year. 

3. What is your favorite Winter drink?

I am not a Starbucks girl. I know, I'm like the one person in the world that doesn't like Starbucks. Almost everything I have tried there makes me sick, so I try to stay away. The one thing I have been liking a lot lately are the refreshers.

One of my favorite holiday drinks is the Red Velvet Hot Chocolate from Coffee is literally the greatest thing in the world. If you have never had it, get in your car, drive to Coffee Bean, and get it NOW! You will die! It tastes like warm red velvet cake in a cup. Yum!

My other favorite Winter drink is actually something I invented. I've included a diagram because I am a nerd. lol. I like to go to 7-11 and get a drink that is 1/3 hot chocolate and 2/3 peppermint mocha. It is so yummy! Adding the hot chocolate to the drink makes it a little less peppermint-y, which I like. 7-11 surprisingly has good coffee. Their pumpkin spice coffee is pretty good as well. The best part is that it is less than $2 for a large cup!

4. What is your favorite holiday activity?
I actually love Thanksgiving, maybe even, dare I say, a little more than Christmas. I love cooking and I love entertaining guests, which I'm sure comes as no surprise since I have a blog about food. Thanksgiving is like my dream holiday because it involves a lot of cooking and a lot of people! 

I also love going to see the holiday flowers at the Bellagio. That was one of my grandma's favorite things to do, so it has become one of mine as well. 

5. What is your favorite holiday scent?
I love Leaves from Bath and Body Works. I also love anything apple or pine tree. I actually stock up on holiday scents so that I can burn them year round. 

6. Does it snow where you live?
No. :( Once like every five years it snows here. The last time it snowed, I was in high school, so maybe we are due for a snow day! 

7. What is your favorite cold weather clothing?
I love scarves. My favorite has been infinity scarves. I also love to crochet scarves. I'm working on this really pretty dark purple one right now. I can't wait until it is finished! 

8. What is your favorite holiday memory?
My favorite holiday memory was spending Christmas at the South Point with my grandparents. We all got dressed up and went out to a fancy supper. It was something pretty normal at the time because I didn't know it was going to be one of her last holidays. Now, it is one of my favorite memories of her. She had always wanted to eat at this restaurant, so I'm glad we finally were able to before she passed away. 

9. Are you a fan of Ugg Boots?
Unfortunately, yes, I am a fan of Ugg boots. They are warm and comfy and are just perfect for cold days. 

10. Christmas is coming, do you have any idea what you want?
I want a sewing machine so badly! I told Josh that if Santa will bring me a sewing machine, he will bring Josh a sound bar for the TV. haha. 

So now it is your turn...I tag YOU! Leave a comment below with your answers. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sour Cream Enchiladas

I love enchiladas! I usually just order them when we go out because they seemed too complicated to make. It was a lot easier than I expected, but I had no idea how messy they were to make! Holy Cow!

I originally found this recipe by Pioneer Woman on Pinterest. I changed it up a bit. It was so yummy, but I can't emphasize how messy this was to make!! haha. Next time, I will probably make it as a casserole instead of individual enchiladas.

This would also be a good recipe to make a lot of and freeze.

We even used the left over sour cream filling to make my chipotle salad tonight for supper. You can find that recipe here.

Hubby's Opinion:
"It was easy to make, and didn't take long. It was really, really good."

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cinnamon Roll Waffles

Happy Sunday!!! You made it through another week!

This has been a super busy week at the Morales Home. Josh finished up a two week straight, no day off, all 2am shifts schedule on Friday! Whew, that was tough. We were on completely opposite schedules, he worked while I slept and I worked while he slept. Needless to say, while I am thankful for the extra overtime, I am more thankful that it is over and I can finally have my husband back.

On Friday morning, I wanted to do something special for Josh to show him how much I appreciate all the hard work he has been doing. So, I got up extra early to clean the house and make him breakfast in bed.

I couldn't believe that Josh slept through all the noise I was making by trying so hard not to make noise. As soon as I let the boys out of the kennel, Binx ran across the bed and jumped right on Josh's face. Josh slept through it. I went to shut the bedroom door and ran into the night stand knocking over the lamp. Josh slept through it. Nicky started barking at a cat walking around the neighborhood. Josh slept through it. Then, around 11, I decided to start making his breakfast. If you are friends with me on Facebook, you already know how this story ends...I hardly got two waffles done before he was out of bed and walking into the kitchen. Fail.

Although surprise breakfast in bed didn't happen, I did make a very yummy and super easy breakfast that I would love to share with you!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sloppy Joes

I work late on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, so I like to make crockpot meals on those days.

We are trying not to eat supper too late, which is really hard to do when you aren't getting home until almost ten. Crockpot meals have really helped us because as soon as I get home we can eat supper instead of having to wait another half hour or longer for me to cook...or worse, me stopping at a fast food restaurant on the way home!

This recipe happened by accident, but it was so yummy. Originally, I was trying to make a buffalo chicken casserole, and forgot to add some of the ingredients. But, I doctored it up a bit, and it turned out to be a great sandwich!

I expected it to be pretty spicy, but the ranch dressing and soup definitely toned it down a bit.

This recipe made enough for two sandwiches that night, and two sandwiches for lunch today. So, it would be perfect for a family. You will love it!!!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Bathroom Sink Storage- No Mess November

Under our bathroom sink used to be clean--I know you can't tell in the before picture, but it was. When we moved into this house I spent a good hour organizing all of my makeup and hair things into my grandma's pretty boxes.

But, at the end of the day, if the organization isn't something you can keep up with on a day to day basis, it doesn't matter how pretty the boxes are, it just isn't going to work. That is exactly what happened. No matter how often I cleaned it, after a few days of running late to work, this is what my bathroom looked like.

I decided last night that enough was enough and reorganized the whole thing. I think this organization is going to be much easier to keep clean because I have made the things that I used on a regular basis more accessible while storing away the things I don't use very often. I was even able to make room for my cleaning products that were previously beside the toilet. Since this was a spur of the moment project, I organized using all storage boxes I already had.
On the far right hand side, I stacked plastic shoe boxes that I originally purchased at the dollar store. The bottom two boxes are things that I don't use often, like extra q-tips and headbands. The top box is my ginormous collection of perfume. I know, I have a problem. I use these regularly, so box is open and easily accessible. 

Next, I used two open boxes to store hair items. The box in front was my grandma's and I used it to store smaller hair products. In the back, I used a plastic box from the dollar store to hold my curling iron, straightener, and hair dryer.

Next, on the bottom, I have storage for extra products like the second bottle of shampoo or the thousand other bars of soap that come in the value packs. Above that, I have my makeup storage. I have used this plastic drawer storage for a few years, I like that it keeps everything separated and organized, but I have a tendency to take the drawers out and leave them on the counter, as you could see in the before picture. I am hoping that moving it higher so that there is nothing in front of it will encourage me to keep the drawers in their spots. So far, so good...but then again it has only been one day, so that isn't saying much.

Finally, I lined up my cleaning supplies along the left hand side of the cabinet. I am happy that I was able to get them in the cabinet as well.

So that is that. I hope you all had a productive first week of No Mess November! I know I have been a day late on all of my posts this week, but I plan to be back on MWF schedule next week. Have a good weekend!!!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Freezer Organization- No Mess November

My freezer is clean!!!!!!!!! Hallelujah!!!

Do you have any idea how frustrating it is for things to fall out of the freezer every time you need to get something out of it??? Holy cow. I kid you not, every time we opened the door, like five bags would fall out on your head.

I hated our freezer!! I would absolutely love to have one of those drawer freezers or a side by side, but we live in an apartment so that isn't an option.

Josh and I are almost vegetarians, so we keep a lot of fruits and vegetables in the freezer. Whenever there is a good sale on something we like, I usually like to stock up and freeze it. For example, if you look in the middle shelf on the bottom photo, that is all guacamole because the grocery store had avocados on sale 20 for $1...don't judge, we like our guacamole. haha

The first thing I did to organize the freezer was take all the frozen fruits and vegetables out of their bags and put them in gallon storage bags. This allowed me to stack the food flat, which you see in the right hand side of the freezer. I really, really love this! I can't believe I never thought of it before. You can easily see what is in each of the bags without having to take every one of them out, which is really convenient.

Then, I went to the trusty dollar store and picked up three of these stack-able bins. The were the perfect height and really provided a space to organize some of the smaller items, like bags of frozen guacamole. Finally, I stacked the other items, like frozen chicken, in the middle.

On the door, I stacked our ice trays and ice packs on the bottom and have a basket of popsicles and butter on the top.

So, that is our freezer!! I am so excited about it! It is functional, you can see everything in it, and it looks pretty too. The best part, nothing falls on your head when you open the door!

What projects are you working on for No Mess November? I would love to hear about your projects! Check back in on Friday to see how I organized the fridge!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Cracker Toffee

One of the therapists at my work made this the other day, and I just had to come home and try it!

It is the perfect combination of salty and sweet. It is super easy to make, and you probably have all of the ingredients in your kitchen!

You can definitely spice this recipe up. You could drizzle some chocolate on top. Maybe even add some peanuts or M&Ms into the mix. Yum! I think I am going to go make another batch!!

Hubby's Opinion:
"This is a good snack to have around. Kids would love it!"

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why I dislike Halloween...

Although I dislike Halloween, I do enjoy making my pets wear cute outfits, so here are my boys in their costumes. Binx is a bumblebee, Nicky is Superman, and Oliver has a shirt that says "This is my costume, do I look scary?"

So why do I dislike Halloween, you may be wondering. I don't necessarily dislike Halloween as a holiday, I dislike what Halloween has become.

Growing up in a Christian home, we were probably one of the few families that celebrated Halloween. We were allowed to dress up and go trick or treating, but we were not allowed to wear any costumes that were satanic or scary. Halloween was fun.

Growing up, I thought the rule was stupid, but now as an adult, I definitely understand. Have you been to a costume store this year? We went a few weeks ago just for something to do, and the costumes were so inappropriate. And not just the adult costumes, the kids costumes too! I don't think little kids should not be allowed to pretend to be murderers or wear costumes with blood and guts all over them or costumes with their stomachs showing...I just don't think it is appropriate. The adult costumes were much worse. What did they say in Mean Girls? Something about Halloween being an opportunity for girls to wear lingerie and animal ears and call it a costume. Whatever happened to modesty?

In the last few years, so much has been taken out of hand. Costumes are much scarier, haunted houses are much more realistic, girls walk around practically naked...I mean kids can't even enjoy getting candy because you have to check it for razor blades before they eat it. That is why I don't like Halloween. It is a holiday that has gotten out of hand. It just isn't fun anymore.

So, anyways, rant is over. I hope that you all have a Happy Halloween. Remember to bring a flashlight and stay safe!

Tomorrow, I will announce next month's theme, and will get back on my Monday, Wednesday, Friday posting. See you then!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

My afternoon...

Is it normal for cats to be absolutely obsessed with the toilet? Not necessary water but the flushing of the toilet. Ugh, because Oliver is. Every time someone flushes the toilet, he will run to the bathroom no matter what room he was in before.

At first, it was cute. He would stand there and watch the water spin around and around. But then, a few weeks ago, he decided he wanted to start touching the water...which is a problem. Number one, it's gross, let's be honest. Number two, we keep one of those little Clorox tabs in the tanks to help keep them clean, so it just isn't safe.

So, anyways, this afternoon...ugh, this afternoon was insane. I was in the bedroom doing laundry when all of a sudden I hear "PLOP." Oh, gosh. So, I run to the master bathroom to see little Oliver inside of the toilet desperately trying to get out. Apparently, I left the toilet seat open. I run over and grab him, and he starts trying to lick his Clorox and germ covered arms. So I run to the kitchen trying to hold his head away, set him in the sink, and turn on the water. Oliver hates water, ironically, so he starts freaking and trying to jump out of the sink. Eventually I just moved to the guest bathroom and put him in the tub so he couldn't jump out, but, of course, he still put up one hell of a fight--I have a gash on my arm and a ripped shirt to prove it!

As I am turning off the water, there is a knock on the door. I run into the hall to grab a towel, and they knock again. The dogs, who are both wearing anti-bark collars, start barking. I go outside in my soaking wet shirt with my soaking wet cat wrapped in the towel, crying. The mailman accidently gave us the mail for the people that live in our old apartment, so we took it over to there last night with a note for the new residents...who don't speak English and were confused as to why I had their mail. He was who was at the door, and I'm trying to explain to him in the little Spanish I remember why I have his mail when Nicky starts barking again, and gets shocked, which scares him so he starts screaming, which makes the collar shock him more and makes him scream louder. I told the man to hang on while I run inside to take the collar off him, he hasn't figured out yet that his barking is what causes the shocking so when he gets shocked he barks more. Ugh, it is a disaster. So, I take off the collar and go back outside to talk to the neighbor...Oliver still in my arms crying.

It was quite an eventful afternoon.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Three Bean Soup

We had an awesome supper tonight, totally by accident. I had class today and needed to make a quick meal. I literally grabbed a bunch of cans out of the pantry and dumped them in the crock pot. I was trying to make chili, but added too much water and ended up making soup.

I was pleasantly surprised that it actually tasted really great! It was a light taste, but was very filling. We had it with a great big salad. I wasn't planning on posting another recipe this week, but it looked so pretty and cheerful that I felt I had to share it.

Hubby's Opinion: 
"I like that you can taste all the spices. The tomatoes were the best part."

Monday, September 30, 2013

Easy Chipotle Salad

Welcome to the first, of what I hope will be many, Mmmonday posts. Every Monday, I plan to post one of our favorite recipes from the week. It may be something new or something we have been making for years. Either way, I hope that you try these recipes and love them as much as we do!

This is the easiest most delicious salad you will ever make! We like to make this salad the day before we go grocery shopping and throw all of the leftover veggies into the salad. You can make this with whatever veggies you like. We usually do corn, bell peppers, beans, tomatoes...really whatever we have on hand. The salad dressing is a tad spicy, but the sour cream cools it down.

The first time we made this, I think Josh and I had three bowls of salad. But, since salad is negative calories, we didn't even feel bad!  I usually am not a big salad fan, so if I find a recipe that we both love this much, it is definitely a keeper!

Hubby's Opinion:
"This salad is easy to prepare when you don't feel like cooking. It has a good kick to it."

Saturday, September 28, 2013

State Line Daytrip

Last December, my graddad lost sight in both of his eyes. Since then, we spend Fridays with him running errands and playing tourist. One of the things he enjoyed doing when he had sight was window shopping. This week, we decided to go to Primm and walk around the outlet mall. Primm is the state line between Nevada and California and is about 30 minutes away from Las Vegas.

It was a fun day, but a little bit tough at the same time. The last time we came to this mall my grandma was alive. We decided to go to the outlet one day after school. By the time we got there, we had five minutes before it closed! I remember my sister and I ran to the Charlotte Ruse store. My grandma was right along side of us in her electric wheelchair. The three of us kind of left granddad in the dust, but he eventually caught up to us...hey, we were on a time limit!
Walking past the Charlotte Ruse store today, I had to stop for a moment and take a deep breath. Ugh. Even though it has been almost five years since she past away, it never gets easier. Some days are normal; others will have a moment like this where you smell or see something and all of a sudden these memories and tears come flooding in. I half expected her to zip around the corner like she used to. I miss her. I try not to let granddad see when I am upset. I can't even imagine how hard days like this are for him. I have seen him cry twice in all of my life. Both times were when he was talking about gram. That was hard. My granddad is a no nonsense kind of guy, so to see him show emotion, for what was probably the first time ever, just crushed me. I had to go bathroom for a moment to get myself together.

On a lighter note, we also headed over to Buffalo Bills casino. We didn't get to ride the roller coaster because it was very windy today. They would only let you ride if the car was full, which she said could take hours. There is also a log ride in the casino, but it was broken. I was disappointed. Log rides are probably one of my favorite things.

When we pulled into the parking lot, we saw there was a racing competition going on, so we stopped and watched that for a little while. It was pretty cool actually.  Though, like I always say, I am a bit of a redneck at heart so I enjoy things like that. The event was sponsored by Red Bull, which happens to be one of Josh's favorite things. He was very excited to get to take a photo with the Red Bull car.

On our way out of town, we stopped to buy a lottery ticket. You should have seen the line! My goodness. It literally wrapped around the entire building. I decided that I was not going to spend an hour in line waiting for something that I have a one in a million chance at winning, so we purchased a scratch off ticket from the machine. And, guess what??? I won a million dollars!!! Just kidding, I didn't. I did, however, win another scratch off ticket for free...but, that would have required me to stand in line to get it, and you know I didn't wasn't going to do that.

In other news, Oliver is doing much better today, thank God. I was worried about leaving him alone. When we woke up this morning, he was trying to get his e-collar off. I came out into the kitchen to find that he had tried to eat with it on in the night and spilled food all over the floor. Poor baby. We decided that we weren't going to make him wear it anymore. Technically we are supposed to leave it on for a week, but since they didn't do any stitches and there is just this teeny-tiny little scab, I think he will be okay. Right now, he is wrestling with Nicky. I'm glad to see that he is back to his normal self!

Also, I just saw a shooting star. That was pretty dang cool.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Oliver's Surgery

Today was the day, Oli got neutered. I have never been through anything like this before. Nicky was already neutered when we adopted him, and Binx is sterile so he didn't need to be.

First let me say, I have no idea how I will handle doctors appointments with my children if I can hardly handle my cat's appointments...but I digress.

As soon as we put Oliver in his carrier this morning, he started screaming. He has figured out that he only goes in there before we head to the vet. I felt like such a horrible person. All the way to the office, he was crying and screaming. Poor baby.

The vet we go to isn't like others where they schedule you a specific time for surgery. They have all of the animals come in at 7am. There was another cat sitting next to us, and he and Oliver were having a screaming contest right there in the lobby. I couldn't tell who was winning, but they were both being extremely loud.

Surgery went well. He didn't need stitches, so it should be a pretty quick healing for him.

We weren't able to pick him up until 4 today, and when I got there, you could tell he was still out of it. The doctor said to leave him in the carrier for a few hours, but I just couldn't do it. His first few steps were very wobbly, but he got up and went straight for his water dish. He was so hungry and thirsty. I couldn't believe how much he ate.

He hates the cone of shame. Absolutely hates it. When I first put it on, he tried to back out of it and pull it off of his head. He has finally accepted that it isn't coming off and fallen asleep.

Even his sleep is just so different. Normally, he pops his head up at any little noise, but today, the house could burn down and he wouldn't even know. I keep checking to see if he is breathing because he is in such a deep sleep. It is really freaking me out. I keep trying to remind myself that the day I got my wisdom teeth out I slept all day too, but it is so different when it isn't you.

I don't know what to do to help him, and I think that is the hardest part. He obviously can't tell me what he needs or where it hurts. I'm hoping that tomorrow he will be feeling better. Until then, he is sound asleep on the couch with daddy. We decided to stay home from Bible Study tonight so we could keep an eye on him. He is very loopy and weak and I was worried he would fall or hurt himself.

My Fall Favorites

  1. My all time favorite Bath and Body Works scent is Country Apple. We always purchase the candles, lotions and body wash. One of my favorite things about this scent is that it isn't too girly or too manly so Josh and I can both use the body wash. 
  2. I love this ice cream flavor! If you close your eyes and take a bite, you would never know that it wasn't a piece of pie. Lots of brands make pumpkin flavored ice creams in the Fall. This is my favorite because the slow churned consistency is the same texture as pie. 
  3. You'll notice a reoccurring theme, pumpkin is my favorite thing about Fall. We are fairly new coffee drinkers. Up until a year ago, we didn't even own a coffee pot. We have been loving Target's Archer Farms coffee. The Pumpkin Spice is fairly light, but still flavorful.
  4. The Fall Hayride scent from Glade smells EXACTLY like Leaves from Bath and Body Works. I mean, it is spot on. I absolutely love Bath and Body Works candles, but it is just ridiculous to spend $20 on a candle. Glade candles are significantly cheaper, and they have other products in the scent as well. We have been using the wax melts for our Scentsy pots a lot lately. 
  5. Apple Cider is one of my favorite Fall drinks. I have never been a huge hot chocolate fan, and like I said before, we have never been big coffee drinkers in the past. The caramel apple cider from Starbucks is like the greatest thing ever! 
  6. The Carmel Apple flavor of Archer Farms coffee is my all time favorite flavor. It is sweet and apple-y, yet still tastes like coffee.
  7. I drink very little cream in my coffee--Josh drinks very little coffee in his cream. We have been buying this pumpkin cream to use in the pumpkin and apple coffees. 
  8. Why are pumpkin shaped Reese's so much better than regular ones? I don't know, maybe because they have more peanut butter. Not sure.
What are your favorite things about fall? I would love to know in the comment section below! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fall Entry Decor
It is a little hard to believe that it is Fall when it is still above 90 degrees here in Las Vegas! Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. I love the colors, the scents, the holidays, the all just makes me really happy.
I don't usually decorate for holidays other than Christmas. I have put a lot of work into decorating my house, and I don't want to take everything down every holiday. I did decide, however, that I would like to decorate my front door. So, why not start with my favorite time of year?

The wreath is by far my favorite part of the decorations. I made it a few years ago with just the two white flowers. I added these orange flowers and lots of leaves. I love the colors. They are very versatile and can be used for Spring and Summer as well. I purchased the garland at Walmart for $2.97 each.

The pumpkins I bought at the dollar store, which was such a steal! I found the same ones at Walmart for $5, so I definitely got a great deal! I literally searched all over town for something like this. I wanted to incorporate pumpkins in the decor, but I didn't want them to have faces so I can us the same decorations throughout Halloween and Thanksgiving.

The doormat we have had for quite awhile. I got it at a store in town called Fallas. They sell designer items for discounted prices. If you live in Las Vegas or California, you should definitely check it out. I don't remember how much it cost, but I know I have never bought anything there for more than $5 a piece.

I really, really love my new fall decor. It is bright and cheery and makes me very happy. I plan to keep this up until it is time to decorate for stay tuned!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering 9/11/01

I was young when 9/11 happened. I was in fifth grade so that would make me  ten-years-old. I remember we were out on the playground for recess. My sister and I had been waiting in line for our turn on the swings for what seemed like forever. It was finally our turn when the teachers called us inside early. They seemed kind of frantic, but didn't say anything.

When we got to the classroom, my teacher was crying. She didn't tell us why. It was cold that day, so we hung up our jackets and sat down at our desks. She told us that there had been an accident in New York City and a lot of people were hurt. She could barely speak the words as we all came up to sit by her. I remember someone asked why she was crying and did she know someone that was hurt. She said no, she didn't but that she was sad for all of the people that did know someone. She turned on the TV and we sat on the floor watching the news as one by one our parents picked us up early from school.

My mom was crying when we got in the car. I didn't understand why. We don't know anyone who lives in New York City, I thought.  The news had said it was a "terrorist attack," but I didn't know what that meant.  My sister and I started crying, though we didn't really know why. My mom was scared and that made me scared too.

The rest of that night is kind of a blur. We watched the news and sat with my mom while she cried. I remember her trying to explain what a terrorist was, but I still couldn't grasp the idea that people would do this intentionally.  I remember thinking that these terrorists were going to bomb our house, though my sister said that they probably didn't even know where Aberdeen, SD was. That made me feel better. I don't remember much else about that day.

I know my story isn't much. It isn't some dramatic it could have been me story. I don't know anyone who was injured or killed that day. I don't know any of the heroes of that day. I have never even been to New York City. But, the events of 9/11 did touch my life, like they did so many.

We grew up a Christian home and, to be honest, lived pretty sheltered lives. We weren't allowed to watch a lot of shows on TV or listen to music that wasn't by Christian artists. I don't remember ever watching the news. I think 9/11 was the first time I saw the world as a scary place. It was the first time I ever felt that I needed to be aware of what was going on around me. I had never felt unsafe until that day. I had never seen death or evil. I never worried about losing friends or family. That day showed me how precious life can be and how fast it can be taken away.

On the other hand, 9/11 was the first time I ever felt patriotic. It was the first time I really cared about anyone outside of my immediate friends and family. It made me realize that there was this whole big world outside. A world filled with people who have mothers and fathers and best friends and dogs. A world where there are heroes in the midst of tragedy. It was the first time I ever prayed for someone I will never meet.

Now, as an adult, I look back on that day and still don't know why bad things happen to good people. I don't know why some people walked away with "it was almost me" stories and others didn't. I don't understand why God would let this happen. I don't how someone could take the lives away from so many people. But, what I do know is that we are all in this life together and some way, some how, my life has touched yours just like yours has touched mine.

So with that, I pray for all those who were effected by the events of 9/11. I pray for peace in your heart. I pray for this nation and its leaders that they make the right decisions for our country. I pray for those still struggling with loss. Above all, I pray for safety and that nothing like this will ever happen again.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Our Bistro Style Patio love decorating--it's kind of my thing. But decorating our patio has been pretty hard since we've never had one until we moved into this apartment complex. It has literally taken me eight months and a move to get it decorated. I really wanted our patio to be an extension of our house. I wanted it to be a place where we could enjoy time outside, have supper, and just relax.

We did have a few challenges in decorating. Number one, there are no electrical outlets or lights outside. Number two, we live in Las Vegas where it is hot as heck. Number three, we have two dogs that go potty outside so any outdoor rugs or things on the ground were out of the question.  And, number four, I have the blackest of all thumbs! I try really hard to garden, but everything I touch dies. (Though I will say number two probably has a lot to do with that.)

My granddad gave us this flag to hang up. He has had it for years but recently purchased a smaller one for his apartment. I've never had an American Flag at my house before.

It is kind of cool, honestly. I feel very patriotic. I'm going to have to look up all the rules for owning an American Flag so that I don't accidentally mess up! I'm sure there are more than no touching the ground, bring inside at night, and don't burn it, obviously.

It reminds me of those beautiful beach-y houses on the East in Maine or Connecticut. You know, the great big mansions with the white picket fence and the cobblestone driveway.

My granddad gave us this wrought iron table for Josh's birthday. He got it at Sam's Club. I really like it because it is quite large. Granddad actually uses his set like this for his kitchen table and there is plenty of room for the three of us. There is a hole in the center for an umbrella, but since we have an apartment above us we don't need one.

We purchased these cushions today at Target. They were only $7 each!! I was so excited. I have been waiting for Target to put their summer stuff on sale since they first brought it out back in like March! Why is patio furniture so expensive?? Anyways, I really love this table. I can't wait to have supper here or drink my coffee in the morning.
I wanted a little plant to put on the table. Like I said, I love to garden, but I seem to kill everything. For years I wanted a lemon tree. Josh finally bought me one, and it was dead in few months. Then I wanted an herb garden, also dead. The only thing I have ever had any success with was Elephant Bush, which is a type of succulent.

I found this little one on a clearance rack at Lowes for $6. The other half of it is aloe vera, which seems easy to take care of. The directions on the bottom say to water every seven to ten days. I think I can handle that. We named it in "I hope I don't kill this one." I liked that it came in its own pot and was all ready to go.

I found this sconce at Goodwill yesterday for $5! Can you believe that?? It is probably one of my greatest thrift store finds of all time. I wanted to put it on the door of the storage closet, but it is very is also wrought iron.

The candles I actually got at Dollar Tree. They are the vanilla candles from Glade. I wanted to have real candles outside because the battery operated ones just don't give the same effect. But, as I mentioned above, it is hot, hot, hot here in Vegas, so glass candle holders were a must. I hope these don't melt too much, especially now that the weather should be cooling down. I did however purchase some battery operated tea lights just in case.

Lastly, we hung bistro lights from the ceiling. Holy Cow was this a pain in the butt. It literally took all day to hang these lights. First, we tried using self adhesive hooks but they kept falling down. Then we tried push pins but there was nothing for the lights to really grip on to. Then we realized one strand wasn't long enough to make it all the way to the other side of the patio so we had to go back to Target for another box. Then the a section of the lights stopped working so we had to fix that. After hours of hanging and rehanging these lights, we used the hooks from attempt number one and screwed them into the wall. Oh yea, it started pouring rain in the middle of all this! One second it was sunny and nice outside and then I looked up and the clouds were just rolling in like crazy.

We ran an extension cord from the inside outlet, through the patio door, and up the wall to the ceiling. We used the same little hooks to hold the cord in place as it went up the wall. We will probably end up unplugging the lights from the extension chord when they aren't in use so that we can bring the cord inside.

I wanted the lights to look like a little sidewalk cafe, so I hung them from one side of the ceiling to the other, back and forth. Then, I wrapped the extras around the pole in the front of the patio. I really, really love them. The pictures don't do it justice. In person, it is just beautiful and actually provides a ton of light at night. Love, love, love it. Josh is really excited about it because it means that we have to have colored lights this year for Christmas.

So there it is. That is our little patio. I am so unbelievably happy with how this turned out!! The finished product rarely ends up how I pictured it in my head, so I am super excited that this one did. I really have been putting this off for months because I just didn't know where to begin, so I am happy to be done.

Two of our neighbors knocked on the door tonight to tell us how pretty it looked. That really made me feel good.

In other news, the sunset tonight was glorious! It stopped raining for just a second while the sun light up the sky in a bright yellow. It was so pretty...and then as quickly as it stopped, the rain started again.

Also, here is a picture of my cat because he is a cutie pie.