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.