Monday, June 22, 2009

Project 52: Week Five

This week has been major. Kevin worked on our new patio project every day - all day. The results are really wonderful. I'll post pics soon! We also spent the week preparing for our trip to Anaheim. Kevin is going to a major industry trade show and we decided we'd rather go as a family than miss him for 5 days. Because he's a genius, he posted a status update on Facebook asking if anyone in the Anaheim area would want to House Swap. Some sweet friends responded that they did!! Such a blessing. Huge house, separate rooms, 10 minutes from the convention center, full kitchen...totally worth the 12 hours I spent cleaning our house in preparation. But seriously, it is. I'm really looking forward to enjoy this week in 'new' surroundings. They have 3 children: 5 year old boy, 4 year old girl and 1 year old boy. The situation couldn't be more perfect for us. We FOR SURE got the better deal in the house department...but they get the beach. Hopefully it evens out :) Thanks again, Karen & Curtis!!

Monday, June 15: I didn't get a photo of this day (booo!) so I decided to post one of my favorite shots from the Free Family Photo Event we hosted the Saturday before. I took this photo of Becca and Jilly being silly. It was my first time at 'studio' photography and I really loved it!

Tuesday, June 16: Mimi being a sweetie pie all messy with food. "Eat" is her favorite word+sign combo. She says it about 15 times/day. "EEEaat". She says, "Gunk Gunk" for drink too ;)

Wednesday, June 17: Can you believe this is the only photo I took all day? Sorry. It's one of our favorite quick and easy recipes. Trader Joe's Orange Chicken and Fresh Express Asian Salad Mix. Divine!

Thursday, June 18: Brody got so bored that finally unzipped Spiderman activity set he got for his April. Inside were these cool posters! We hung them to cover the glossy paint that Kevin accidentally used a touch-up paint on an egg shell wall. Plus they go w/his cool super hero theme. WAM! ZAP!

Friday, June 19: The beautiful bouquet of flower my girl, Christianne whipped up the night before during a home group cook-out. Our first entertaining event on our new patio!! Wooo-Hooo. Christianne left on Sunday for 3 weeks in Thailand. So looking forward to hearing how God will work in this trip!

Saturday, June 20: Our very precious and wonderful friends THE WOLDS came to visit/worktheirbuttsoff! We could never have gotten everything done w/out their help. Dave and Kevin did man stuff on the yard and patio. Christy and I cleaned, ran errands, shucked corn and tended to babies: women's work ;) Caleb and Mia did their own things and Brody and Maddie played their faces every waking moment of the day. Glorious.

Sunday, June 21: Clean all morning, drive all afternoon, play with other kids' toys all evening....whew. I'm ready for sleep.
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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day, My Love

Brody made a sweet card for Kevin at school this week. I can't remember all the words but it ends, "...there is no dad in all the world like you." Brody always says how sad that is. We immediately realized that he's misunderstanding the statement and thinking it means something about there being 'no dad in all the world'.

How precious.

He is truly sad by the thought that there being no dad in all the world. Kevin is Brody's hero. He can literally do no wrong. The cool parent. The fun parent. The DAD.

I love you, honey, for being such an amazing DAD! There are no babies in all the world more fortunate than yours...
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

June Meal Plan - Week Four

We are going out of town this week and if I really were like Simple Mom I would have planned exactly what we're going to eat while away. But I was too busy preparing our house for the swap and well....I didn't plan very well. But my home looks great!

Now I'm a little inspired. Maybe I'll write out our Away From Home meal-plan on the way to Anaheim tomorrow. I just received my first copy of Everyday Food, great food fast from Martha Stewart, and I'm so excited to cook like Martha know, everyday and on a budget.

Stay tuned for a possible update...although I assure you, reader (hi mom!), Chuck E. Cheese will be a part of next week's meal plan.

Deal of the Week: Free DVDs!

"Bought" some new DVDs this week for zero dollars, thank you very much.

1. Free Veggie Tales movie HERE {we picked Where's God When I'm S-scared but there are three options to chose from}. Also, if you want to pre-order the newest movie: Minnesota Cuke and the Search for the Lost Umbrella for $14.99 you will get Larry Boy and the Bad Apple for free!

2. Free Precious Places DVD from Fisher-Price HERE. I know this is a girl's move, Mom. I'll save it for Mimi or give it to one of Brody's (many) girlfriends as a little present. It's free. WHY NOT!?

3. Free Geo-Trax DVD (thanks, The Bargain Jargon!) HERE.

Not having a television has been a lot easier than I originally anticipated. In fact, the only thing I miss about it is 30 minute programing for Brody in the morning. We have a couple of Veggie Tales and Curious George DVDs but for the most part we only have feature films. These movies will be fun new programs for him to watch while (not) eating his breakfast!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Free Family Photo Event for Eastside Families

Last weekend I coordinated a Free Family Photo Event for the families of my 'hood: the lower Eastside of Santa Barbara. It was originally planned as a Mother's Day event but due to the Jesusito fires we had to postpone the event to June 13th. I have to admit my excitement for the event waned in the time between Mother's Day and the actual event. We went to Phoenix and started a major yard renovation and we were making plans for a couple of upcoming trips...I just felt less 'into' it.

Anyway, the week leading up to it I started getting really excited again. Just thinking about the people who were going to be blessed by these amazing family portraits! Some of these families have never had a professional photo much less by the caliber of photographers who gave their time to this event. Amazing!!

Here is a group shot of some of the photogs on hand and mi familia (it is my blog!). I was just so blessed by this event and know that the families who participated (about 35 in all) will be blown away by their prints.

Thanks again friends for sharing your gifts. You're all spectacular!
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Deal of the Week: CVS Photos

I just completed my order for 50 free prints and (1) free 8x10 for....drum roll...ZERO DOLLAR$! Yes. Yes. Yes.

I'm not going to lie. This was not a simple process. Here is why:

1 - I tend to over think just about everything and so deciding which pictures I was going to print became a multi-day process. I decided to print the photo session I had with my niece so I can give her a little photo album of her "Diva Day of Beauty"! I know she'll love it!

2 - You have to sign up w/CVS. It becomes a bit confusing because you 20 Free Prints for creating a photo account here. You get another 30 Free Prints when you link your Extra Care Card account to your photo account. I didn't have an Extra Care Card so I had to first sign up for it, then wait a week for the card to arrive and then finally apply it to my account to earn the additional prints. I could have gone to my local and inconveniently located CVS to secure my card in minutes but this worked well enough and I never had to leave the house.

3 - Somehow I kept erasing my order!! I think this was 100% user-error but it was frustrating nonetheless.

Even with all the obstacles, I have no complaints now that my order is being processed and I wont have to pay a single penny for any of it. Aaaarrghhh! That make me so happy :))

* Sign up for the 50 free prints by following the links in #2
* Upload and order your prints: (50) 4x6 & (1) 8x10
* Apply your credit for the 50 free points at check-out {there is a radio button}
* Enter your code for the free 8x10 {it's FREE8X10 and it is only good for through June 21,09}
* Choose to pick up the prints in the store in 'days' {vs. 'hours'}

My prints will be ready in a few days and all I have to do is show up. So excellent!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Huevos Rancheros

Once again, I am not stoked on my photo here but I had to post our super easy recipe for Huevos Rancheros. Kevin likes two tortillas, I prefer just one on the bottom.

Layers from bottom:

* Warm tortilla
* Refried beans
* Second warm tortilla (if desired)
* Two fried eggs
* Cheese {we use a cheddar/jack combo}
* Salsa
* Raw onion
* Sour cream

Oooooh, baby. You might think that I, the resident Mexican, might have brought this recipe to our marriage but the truth is - I'd never heard of or tried huevos rancheros until I married The Professor. We don't have it often but when we do we are always pleased!

Buen Provecho!
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June Meal Plan - Week Three

I'm really loving this weekly meal plan program. The best part is that I took Simple Mom's advice and entered the daily meals into my Google calendar (under it's own title). I have daily reminders sent to email so that I am reminded each day what the plan is for the evening. AND if I have to do something special for the next day (set out chicken, for example) I make a note on the reminder. It has been really great!

This week is light. We have friends coming into town for the weekend and I haven't planned our fare yet. Any recommendations?

Monday - Hot Dog Crescents with cottage cheese

Tuesday - Home Group BBQ at our house

Wednesday - Egg & Bread Dish*

Thursday - Enchilada Casserole {we were too tire to cook on Saturday this week}

Friday & Saturday - TBD

Stuffed Peppers

I had to post this recipe because it's so flipping easy and delishy. Most of the main ingredients come from Trader Joes.

(2) Large Green Bell Peppers
(1) bag of TJ's Meatballs
(1) box of TJ's wild rice
(1) box of Red Pepper Soup from TJ's

First, cut peppers in halves and throw out the seeds. Place halves in a bowl of water to soak. Set aside.

Cook the entire box of rice according to the instructions. Slowly add an entire box of Red Pepper Soup allowing the soup to become thick and for the rice to absorb some of the liquid.

Heat half a bag of meatballs in the micro, cut them in halves and put them into the soup. Stir.

Place soaked peppers onto a dish or cookie sheet (I recommend lining with tin foil because this gets messy). Salt the insides and stuff with soup mixture.

Top with mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

SO TASTY! Even in warm weather this is dish is wonderful!

Enjoy :)
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Darling Niki

I just had to post this precious photo of sweet, little niece Nicole. For her 10th birthday I gave her her own model shoot. She was amazing. So natural and beautiful. At one point she said, "I feel like a super model" and I realized my goal had been accomplished! She's same parts little girl and pre-teen. A joy to be around and a tremendous cousin as well. We love you, Nik!
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Project 52: Week 4

This week was crazy busy. It was Brody's first VBS ever! He went to Good Shepherd Luthern in Goleta and had an absolute blast. His favorite part was FOR SURE climbing all over and beating up Tanner (or "Tan" as Brody called him) the 13 year old class helper. But along the way he learned several new songs & dances, created some sweet little keepsakes and discussed Bible stories!!

Also, this week we also started a major remodel project in our 'side' yard. I'll post more on this in the future but for now I'll just say that Kevin is exhausted (albeit delighted) due to pulling 8 hour shifts of manual labor for the past 6 days! We're all very excited to see the finished product which will hopefully be by the end of the week. Thanks, sweetie!

And lastly, I was busy all week planning for the Free Family Photo Event which took place on Saturday. So thankful for the 5 free mornings to be able to focus.

Monday - First day of VBS {I took this picture in the blazing day light so I couldn't really see what I was photographing}

Tuesday - Tearing down the fence from street corner

Wednesday - More house work from font door

Thursday - Evening social at Good Shepherd -- Brody was a total ham but adorable

Friday - I got lucky and stopped into Anthro right before Christy's break! We enjoyed 20 minutes of strong tea and frothy coffee together :)

Saturday - Mimi hunting for food again. "Eat". Her favorite word!

Sunday - Fence is up!! Our patio space is huge and beautiful and we can't wait to entertain :))
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Deal of the Week: Free Audiobooks

I love free stuff. And I love books. And I love listening to books!

Brody loves books too! So, of course, I'm all over this deal from Audible Kids Audio Books and Parenting Magazine :) Click here to get these three free downloads for the kids! [Edit: Ok...go here first and click on the link at the bottom of the article]

Rapunzel (Unabridged)
Brothers Grimm

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (Unabridged)
Rudyard Kipling

The Emperor
Hans Christian Andersen

Monday, June 08, 2009

Wanna Be like The Bargain Jargon

It's no secret that I love a deal. I go crazy for sales. I've never met a clearance bin I didn't immediately like. I honk for garage sales.

I've mentioned before that I have a friend (Julie P.) who is SO good at couponing that she has actually had the store give her money at check out! A bag full of goods and THEIR MONEY too!! I'm in awe.

Well, I have a new deal-hunting blog hero. I'd like you to meet The Bargain Jargon "the source for understanding coupons, deals & frugal living". If you love a good deal you might consider subscribing to her blog so you get the posts directly to your email.

I loved this post because it contains two very valuable links (back to her own posts). This one gives the mark-down schedule for Target. For example, DID YOU KNOW that toys are marked down on Wednesday?? And that mark-downs happen approximately every 2 weeks. So if you find something on sale for 30% today it will probably be marked down to 75% in two weeks -- if it's still on the shelf.

And then she gives this link which contains some really great ways to earn 'gift' monies by using Mypoints (which I think is too complicated...and is exactly why I'm not earning free products), e-rewards, loyalty programs and Swagbucks. It was also a great reminder about having a stash of toys for gift-giving!

Search & Win

In my attempt to be like The Bargain Jargon, I'm going to follow her next coupon shopping advice! She highlights her especially successful shopping trips by highlighting the stores weekly discounts (according to their circulars) and pairs them with coupons she finds online or in the newspaper.

So excited to report back!!

Thanks, Bargain Jargon :)

Pizza Pouches Recipe

I found this recipe in Cookie Magazine, Feb. 09 issue. I've never been able to find this recipe online so I'll write it out here. So easy (about 35 minutes total time) and tasty. Enjoy!!

(1) 16 oz bag store-bought pizza dough
{I use's just easiest}
6 Tbs fresh or jarred marinara sauce
6 store-bought turkey meatballs
{I use Trader Joe's regular meatballs - not turkey}

6 Tbs shredded mozzarella
1 Tbs grated Parmesan
1 egg
1 tsp milk

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Roll the dough out about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into eighths
3. Grease a muffin tin. Line each cup with a piece of dough, letting the excess hang over the sides.
4. Fill each with 1 Tbs of sauce and 1 meatball {I heat these beforehand}
5. Gather each bit of excess dough up around the filling, pinching it together at the top
6. Whisk the egg with the milk to make a wash. Brush it onto each pouch.
7. Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

Freeze these for up to a month for a quick microwaveable dinner.
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Project 52: Week 3

Trying a new approach this week. I figure this might be easier to scrapbook the project at the end of the year! All the collages are done in Picasa. I heart Picasa.

Monday, June 1st: Photo of Mianna taken by Brody Sturm
Tuesay, June 2: Brody and I went on a date to see Pixar's UP. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. And so did Bubba.
Wednesday, June 3: Found me a pirate among the Bird of Paradise plant!
Thursday, June 4: It rained. Brody and I spent a good 15 minutes making and guessing the different shapes formed by this amazing necklace! Sarah brought me the necklace from Cape Town. It's made from rattan seeds!
Friday, June 5: Running errands with Brody....and some how ended up at McConnell's???
Saturday, June 6: Family lunch at Cesar's Place Fish & Chips on Milpas street. Mia got a little messy.
Sunday, June 7th: Kevin decided today was the day to clean our garage. We're gearing up for our neighborhood g'sale at the end of the month (piles to the left). Good work, babe!
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Sunday, June 07, 2009

June Meal Plan - Week Two

Week One went REALLY well. We varied a little. Switched up a couple of days. Easy McCheesey. This week is a little heavy on the casseroles! Also, I didn't do the Steak Kabobs or the Indian food this week which I feel good about.

It's more about actually having a plan than sticking to the plan, I've discovered.

Monday - French Bread Pizza

Tuesday - Stuffed Bell Peppers*

Wednesday - Huevos Rancheros

Thursday - Summer Pasta with sun dried tomatoes, asparagus, basil, prosucitto and pine nuts*

Friday - Tuna Casserole*

Saturday - Easy Enchilada Casserole*

* will post recipes on day prepared

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Simple Mom Giveaway

So, while I'm being a "WannaBe Simple Mom" I have to mention her latest giveaway! If you're curious about cloth diapers, check out this past weeks Cloth Diapering 101 (authored by a guest blogger). She discusses the MANY options available and gives pros and cons to each option.

We used G Diapers with Mia for several months. {ohmygosh...I just saw these ruffle numbers! Too cute!} To same money moved on to some chlorine-free disposable diapers . I'd like to try using pocket diapers! For sure with baby #3 (should we get a newborn).

If you're a Mommy to babies in diapers and are interested in winning any of the following, go here and leave a comment! Good luck :)

• From FuzziBunz, two people will win three pocket diapers — two of their one-size diapers and one of their perfect size diaper. Each set of diapers is worth over $55.

BottomBumpers will give one reader a three-pack of their all-in-one diapers, worth around $60.

Swaddlebees is giving one reader two of their diapers, a Blueberry Minky One-Size snap pocket diaper and a Swaddlebees EcoNappi, worth $62.

Monday, June 01, 2009

June Meal Plan - Week One

Monday, June 1 - Trader Joe's Mac-n-Cheese & broccoli for the kids; Pesto pasta with chicken & potatoes for the adults {I usually have no problem cooking two meals if it means Kevin and I get to have our meal together after the kids are in bed}

Tuesday, June 2 - Grilled Chicken, rice and Strawberry Spinach salad with home-made vinaigrette dressing

Wednesday, June 3 - Pizza Balls and cut fruit

Thursday, June 4th - Ranch-style Steak kabobs and baked beans

Friday, June 5th - Trader Joe's fried rice, potstickers and edamame

Saturday, June 6th - ?? for the kids; Indian food for adults {it's 'at home' date night!}

Brody said...

When Brody saw this picture he said, "It looks like Daddy is wearing piggy tails." Haaaa haaaa haaaa....
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Wanna Be like Simple Mom

I read about 50 blogs. Give or take 25 - 75. I like blog, ok?

All of my personal friends' blogs are in my Google Reader but the rest I keep in a bookmark widget on my iGoogle homepage. They are categorized by theme 'Mom blog', 'Craft', 'Scrapbook' are the three main titles (I also follow some Daddy blogs and a few other rando ones). After some soul searching I realized that I would like very much for my blogs to have a direction...a these women do. But at the heart and soul of the matter, I don't have a focus. I have chaos. I like a lot of things and I like to blog about them. One of my favorite local blogs is one about the cleanliness of public restrooms in Santa Barbara. It's educational! And I have an obsession with public restrooms so this feeds my neurosis. WHY don't all restrooms keep a trashcan next to the door?? And a wall hook for my bag too much to ask?? So, what's my point....

Instead of trying to pretend my blog has a POINT, I'm going to do what I do best and Copy other bloggers! Every now and then I am going to post about a blogger that I follow and why I WannaBe like her/him. Sometimes I'll participate in a project they share. Other times it might be the style in which they write. Maybe I'll read a book someone recommends or try a recipe. Mostly, I think, I'll be following detailed instruction offered by anyone of my favorite authors.

Most of my fav blogs regularly share their genius in How-To format. I like this. Tell me exactly how to (pack a Bento box, create a decal t-shirt, become more organized, etc.), please.

This post is an homage to Simple Mom who completely fascinates me. Pretty much I want to copy her exactly in everything she does. This month I'm going to start 'simple' and take a shot at Monthly Meal Planning. She explains exactly how she does it here. It's already Monday so I'm going to have to do all my planning for the first week of June tonight (ideally I should have started this about a week ago).

My Goal: To save money, be prepared and help move the evening activities along smoothly
Why now: We are in town all of June!

I'll post my June Meal Plan in a separate post! Wish me luck. And thanks, Simple Mom for the encouragement and advice! You make it look so easy.