Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Flashback - Amazing

This is my Granny with my mom, uncle and aunt. Since Rhonda is still a little baby, I'd say Granny is 21. At 21 my Granny had 3 kids under the age of 3! My mom and uncle are 15 1/2 months apart and my uncle and aunt are 13 months apart! To me that is amazing - not that she could have that many kids, but that she could SURVIVE! ;) First of all I can't imagine having all of them that close, but then to top it all off she was 21! At 21, I was barely married and trying to see if I could go 2 months without seeing my parents. (which by they way still doesn't happen! )

To all of you young mothers, especially with more than one kid - I am in awe.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kitchen Favorites

A couple of weeks ago on the Tasty Kitchen Blog, someone posted their favorite kitchen tools. I thought I'd piggy back on that post and show you some of my favorite kitchen tools.

Here's the grouping. I had a hard time deciding between all of my gadgets, but these 6 made the finals!

Egg slicer - the best. I know it can be used for other things, but we use it the most to slice boiled eggs for our salads. yum!

I received these peelers as a gift for Christmas and love them. I've actually only used one or 2 of them, but I really like the ones I've used. Clearly, I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to kitchen gadgets.

Garlic chopper - I received this for Christmas as well. Since I've been trying several new recipes this year, I seem to be using this a lot more than I thought I would. It's very easy to use and you don't have to worry about trying to chop garlic yourself or dig it out of the garlic press. I also like that you can decide the size of your "chop" based on how much you roll it around on the kitchen counter.

I have had this spoon rest for several years. They are very nice because it allows you to hang your spoon over the pot and not let it drip all over your counter. I have a normal spoon rest, but it gets dirty when I lay the spoon on there and then if it's something like raw meat I feel like I need to clean the spoon rest every time I stir the meat and put my spoon down again. The dilemma in life - where to place your spoon while cooking! It's a big decision! But there's good news if you have this nifty spoon rest! ;)

Egg timer. Well it's actually a timer for boiling an egg. My sister in law introduced me to this gadget and I love it. I don't have to worry about setting the oven or remembering how long the eggs have been boiling. All I have to do is look in the pot and see if this has turned black. It's sort of like a mood ring, only black doesn't mean stressed it means hard boiled! ;)

And last, but not least, my mini spoonula. This little guy is perfect for scooping out cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, sour cream - you know all the creamy goop you sometimes use to cook. It's the perfect size for can goods and gars with small openings when a larger spoon won't fit.

What are your favorite kitchen tools? Maybe I already have them or maybe I NEED to get them! ;)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Flashcards

My coworker bought these flashcards for us just after Mackenzie was born and Mackenzie really enjoys looking at the pictures. I finally got a couple of videos of her looking at them.

video

video

video

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Declutter

To get our house ready to sell, I had to do some major cleaning out and decluttering. Here are some before and after shots.

Office/Storage Room Before:
Office/Storage Room After:

Before:
After:

Mackenzie's Room Before:
Mackenzie's Room After:

Looking at the before and after pictures makes me realize how much stuff we have. A lot of the stuff in the office went to storage. I threw some of it away, but we were in such a hurry to clean it up, that I just packed most of it. Mackenzie's room is a big change and I think she really likes it. All that you see in the picture used to be in our living room, so we have really enjoyed having our living room back. It's been 2 weeks since we cleaned out and I'm happy to say that we've kept it clean for the most part. Every night before I go to bed, I make sure everything is put away and then in the mornings, I do it again. Now if we can just get some buyers into the house!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Flashback - What a walker!

This is for my mom!
I love how padded this walker is! I would definitely have been protected walking around in that thing!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Playing Outside

Since the painters were still at our house when we got back from the zoo a couple of weeks ago, we decided to play outside for a little while.

Mackenzie realized that she could look through the fence. I don't think the neighbors dog was outside otherwise he would have barked at her and she would have come running back to me.

We bought her this slide about a month ago and it sat in our living room for a few weeks, until we moved it outside.
It took her a little bit to figure out how to climb up on it, but now she's got the hang of it.

Mackenzie only had a half hour nap that day on the ride from the zoo to lunch. In this picture I was hoping she would sit with me and fall asleep. That never did pan out, but she did fall asleep at 7:00 that night.
Brandon also took a picture of me yawning but I chose not to include it here. ;)

Monday, April 19, 2010

First Zoo Trip

A week ago Friday, Brandon and I took a day off from work and took Mackenzie to the Zoo. It was a perfect day and worked out really well since the painters were at the house that day while we were gone. I think for the most part Mackenzie enjoyed it. There were some animals that I think were a little too small or too far away to interest her, but she seemed to like all the big animals.

Brandon and Mackenzie looking at the giraffes.

I think I need a zoom lens for my camera. I would loved to have had a closer picture of this giraffe, but this is as good as it gets for now.


This was the one elephant that was out and about. The others were in their homes/cages. They are currently building and African exhibit where they will have African elephants. I'm really excited to see those.

Mackenzie's first soft pretzel.

Brandon took about 30-40 pictures of us on the carousel. I was worried she wouldn't like it, but she really enjoyed going round and round.

Most of the time Mackenzie enjoyed touching the railings and the ground over looking at the animals. Apparently the monkeys were of no interest to her here.

I had to have a picture of the flamingos because they look so fake. It's been a few years since I've been to the zoo and I didn't remember the flamingos looking fake. I guess that's why they make yard ornaments to look like flamingos. If you had a real one and a fake one in your yard, you might not be able to tell the difference! ;)

Mackenzie really wanted to touch the duck/goose (bird of some sort), but I was a little afraid it might get her finger through the fence.

I think her favorite part were the fish.


While at the zoo we ran into someone we recognized from A&M. She was there with her 2 sons and she said they lived down town so they go to the zoo about every other week. Maybe it's because I'm not much of an animal person, but that seems like a lot. I figure I've had my zoo fix for at least the next year. Actually, if I didn't have Mackenzie, I'd be good for several years.

Would you go that often if you had the time?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Exceptions

For the most part Mackenzie likes to have her picture taken. But then there are those exceptions.
This is from the last few months. I hope this doesn't become a trend! ;)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Flashback - Look Who's Cooking!


I don't want to say that I've never seen my Papa cook, but I don't remember too many of them. My Granny sure takes care of him, so that he doesn't have to worry about pulling biscuits or rolls out of the oven too much!
Clearly this was somewhat of a big deal since there is a picture documenting this occasion! ;)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

For Sale

That's right, our house is officially on the market! We decided a little over a week ago to go ahead and try to sell it rather than waiting a year. If it doesn't sell by the end of the summer, then we'll try again next year.

It's been a crazy 11 days:

Monday (5th) - decided to sell house
Tuesday - started de-cluttering (more on that later)
Wednesday - bought a storage unit
Thursday - moved furniture/boxes to storage unit
Friday - Painters at the house/still de-cluttering
Saturday - Cleaning crew at house/still de-cluttering
Sunday - last load to storage unit
Monday - Landscaper at house
Tuesday - Met with Realtor
Thursday - Photographer at House and Sign put in yard

The lock box and sign are supposed to be added today and I'm assuming it will be listed on the websites by tomorrow. Our house looks so clean and clutter free, I hope we can keep it that way! So, if you know anyone who's looking for a starter 3 bedroom home, send them our way!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Employee Reviews

My company has 2 employee reviews every year - one in April and another in October. The spring review always involves a question/answer form. In the past this has always been fairly easy for me.
question: what is your goal for 200x?
my answer: I want to become a licensed architect

question: what are the steps you are taking to achieve this goal?
my answer: "...taken 3 test, only 6 to go"; "...taken 6 tests only 3 to go."

This year was different - I had to find a new goal! It's a little bittersweet - I've achieved a goal that had been on my reviews since I started in 2005 which is awesome, but now what?

What do I want to do with my career and life in general? My answer on my review was, "...to become more involved in the Architecture community." The key word here is "involved". I want to become involved/active in a lot of things - so many in fact that I'm going to need to narrow it down and decide on the ones that are really important to me. I know it sounds weird to say that I want to add stuff to my already busy schedule and I'm sure Brandon is thinking, "oh no". I don't necessarily want to add stuff to my schedule, as much as I want to change my schedule. I just really feel the need to become more active in the community and get to know other people besides my close friends and family.

Below is a list of a few organizations that either I'm interested in or am already a member of, but would like to be more "active" in.

AIA
TSA
Houston Aggies
Habitat for Humanity
KSBJ
Home owners Association
West Houston Church of Christ

What kind of organizations do you belong to? Are you active in the community?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Drool + Slobber = Ewwww!!

This weekend I learned/remembered that 11 year olds don't like baby drool. Two instances with my cousin Chloe and Mackenzie had me, Rhonda and Granny laughing. Rhonda and Chloe were in Texas for a visit, so Mackenzie and I went to visit with them on Saturday. We were all sitting at the table and Rhonda was playing with Mackenzie. Mackenzie is still teething and we are waiting for the bottom canines (eye teeth) to come in, so this basically means she's still drooling like she's 9 months old again. As Rhonda was playing with Mackenzie her hand touched Mackenzie's face/mouth and when she moved her hand a string of drool stayed connected. Chloe immediately turned her head away in disgust and said, "ewwww".

Then when we were leaving I asked Mackenzie to give everyone a kiss goodbye. She walked to Chloe with her mouth wide open and as she was getting closer, Chloe turned her head away, again grossed out by the thought of all that slobber on her cheek.

Clearly to 11 year olds drool and slobber = ewwww!!!!

I, on the other hand, love those kisses! It's all in the eye of the beholder!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Flashback - Grandmother's Quilt


This is a quilt my great grandmother made. While at first glance it looks like a simple quilt, I CANNOT imagine making a quilt of this size. Not only does it fit a double or maybe a queen size bed, but it has small squares! Quilting is definitely and artform and I have a great appreciation for the quilts AND the quilters!

On another note, the elephant on the left side of the picture is a "piggy bank" of my great grandmothers that now sits on a shelf in Mackenzie's room. I like that Mackenzie has something of hers even though they never met!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hair Help

I am in desperate need for help! My hair is frustrating me! I'm not sure if it is all the gray coming in, the layers, the shortness, the longness or all of the above. What ever it is, it bothers me!

Part of the solution would be to go to the hair salon. While this seems like a simple task, its anything but. With Brandon in school every other weekend, I'm limited to every other Saturday. And then on those free Saturdays things come up. Clearly I made the choice to do the other things, but still before I know it's been 4 months since my last appointment. When you color your hair - that's way toooo long. Fortunately, I color my hair my natural color, so you can't see the root growth, BUT you can see the new gray hairs that have sprung up all over the place.

We're taking M to the zoo tomorrow, so I originally made an appointment for the afternoon, but things have come up this week, so I canceled. Brandon has class next Saturday, so I'm hoping maybe in 2 weeks I'll finally get my hair done.

While I'm complaining about not having time, I don't know what exactly I want done. Besides the obvious color, I don't know how I want to cut my hair. On the one hand I want to grow it out so that I can pull it back in a pony tail this summer. But on the other hand, if its short it makes me style my hair in the mornings before work. AND, if I cut, how short? Do I do layers again or just a short bob? If bob, even or slightly angled? HELP!!!!!!!!

You can look at my Easter post for my current hair style. Also, what helps with the frizziness (other than moving away from Houston)?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mackenzie stories

I thought I'd share a few funny stories about Mackenzie.

1. A week ago when I took Mackenzie to school, I stopped at the donut store and bought us breakfast. As I was walking down the side walk to our car, I dropped my bag and a few donut holes dropped to the ground. I obviously wasn't going to pick them up and eat them, so I picked up my bag but left the 3 donut holes on the ground. As we walked away, Mackenzie stared and pointed at the donut holes while whining/wincing. She clearly did not understand why I would leave delicious donut holes on the ground and not eat them.

2. On Sunday, Mackenzie and I were looking at books and she kept putting her foot on the book we were looking at. I removed her foot and said we were not allowed to put our feet on the books. After several times of doing/saying this, I finally picked up the book, looked at her and said, "Are you listening to me?" She responded by pointing to her ears. I couldn't help but laugh. She clearly knows how to listen, but chooses not to obey! ;)

3. Yesterday on the way home, Mackenzie started crying in the back seat. I have know idea what was wrong and I don't know what she wanted but after several cries of "momma" and me not responding, she decided to try Daddy instead, "Daaaaadddddyyyyyy". FYI, Brandon was not in the car, but I guess she figured he could still help her more than I was!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter

Here is our Easter Recap!

I didn't get a picture of Mackenzie's Easter basket before I gave it to her, but oh well. I bought most of the stuff when she was with me and she played with it when I put it in the basket. I love that at this age I can do that and once I hide it from her for a few weeks it's NEW the next time she sees it.

She loves PEZ, so I knew the duck pez dispenser would be a hit! Unfortunately, I took it with us to church and then to lunch where I left it at the restaurant. At least she got to see it for a few hours!

Before we got ready for church, Mackenzie colored a picture in her new coloring book.

This is the reaction I got when I tried to make her stand in front of the back door for her picture. It's a keeper! ;)

Then we tried again and had a much better picture! Although, still no smile.

Brandon and Mackenzie

Me and Mackenzie

Because it had rained the night before and the ground was a little wet, our church had the Easter egg hunt in the gym. I've read a couple of blogs about this already and every account uses the word "crazy". This blog is no exception - the Easter egg hunt was CRAZY!!! Oh...and over in about 3 minutes. As you can imagine, you can't really hide eggs in a gym, so this is what they did.
Someone took our photo while we waited for the egg hunt to begin.

This is our first family picture in a while and it turned out pretty well.

Mackenzie didn't quite know what to do with the eggs so when she picked up her first egg, she opened it and out spilled Jelly beans. We spent the remainder of the time picking up the jelly beans she was trying to eat off the floor. I ended up picking up a few more eggs for her before all the older children snatched them up.

After 3 minutes of craziness, the hunt was over and we went out to lunch! Since we went to late service and then had the Easter Egg hunt, Mackenzie's schedule was all out of whack. We were eating at the time she would normally be taking a nap, so by the time we were driving home, she was out cold. I changed her diaper and took her dress off of her with out her even opening her eyes slightly! This Sunday we are celebrating Easter again with my family, so maybe that Easter Egg hunt will go better, especially since she'll be the only one looking for eggs!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Cooking through Pioneer Woman

Ever since I received this cookbook, I've been trying to do at least one new recipe a month. Since I cook our meal for the week on Sundays, I really only cook about 4 times a month with the exception of the occasional preparing a meal for someone at church or having people over for dinner. With that said, I've really only cooked about 6 recipes from her cookbook, but they've all been delicious.

Remember the lasagna I posted about back in January? The lasagna is great! I've made it several times since then including this past Saturday where I split the recipe in 2 and took to two different friends of ours who have recently had babies. I changed up the recipe a little by adding ricotta cheese and once I added mushrooms. While it does take a little prep time - as all lasagnas do - it's well worth it.

Next I made beef enchiladas. These were good, but I'm sorry to say, so not worth the effort and mess involved. If I'm going to make enchiladas, I'll probably just stick to the beef sour cream recipe that I can make by heart and very little trouble.

I then attacked the cowboy calzones. (I couldn't find the recipe on her website, so it must be a "cookbook exclusive"! Go out and buy you one today! ) I was making them for our Life Groups on a Sunday and was running out of time, so I decided to buy pizza dough instead of using her recipe. I also have issues with making a rue, so I don't think the filling was quite as thick as it should have been. All this said, they were still delicious. I see myself making them again and adding my own ingredients to the filling. We'll see.

Then a couple of weeks ago I made meatballs and mac n' cheese. They weren't cooked together like spaghetti and meatballs, but they were a perfect match either way. As PW says, the meatballs are more of a meatloaf and they were really good. It was perfect for Mackenzie's dinner because all I had to do was heat up one meatball, some mac n cheese and veggies and she was set. Mackenzie is usually a really good eater and I have to say that week she ate every bite every night! If you ever make the mac n cheese, I'll warn you that it is thick and it makes a lot. That week I ate it at dinner and for a couple of my lunches and we still had to throw a little out at the end of the week.

The most recent recipe I made was her spicy pulled pork. For my birthday my mom gave me this:


Isn't it beautiful? :) I was so excited to use it that I purposefully planned the pulled pork just for this occasion. I put the pork in the oven at 2:30 and took it out at 7:30 when we got home from Life Groups. The recipe said it would be "fork tender" and let me tell you it really was. We've eaten on it all week and in a variety of ways. The first night we had pork sandwiches because I had a horrible headache and didn't feel like preparing any sides. Tuesday and Wednesday we made burritos or tacos and added lettuce, sour cream and guacamole - yum. And Thursday we had loaded baked potatoes and salad. Mackenzie also liked this especially in the taco form. That is unless she got a bite with too much lettuce, which she would then proceed to spit out. I think it's a texture thing.

Anyways, I'm having so much fun trying all of her recipes. I think my next recipe will be her chicken spaghetti and then one of these days I'm going to have to start on desserts. (I kind of feel like the Julie/Julia book but without all the french food, complicated recipes, cussing and negativity!)

Are there any cookbooks that any of you have "cooked through" and loved? Should I add to my collection and recipes to try?

PS. For those who care, I finished Julie/Julia and my opinion stays as is - it was not that great. I need to add the movie to my Netflix to see if in this case the movie is better than the book.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Shoe Give Away

So I cleaned out my closet yesterday and 6 pairs of shoes left my shelves. I now have 28 pairs of shoes! What am I going to do with only 28 pairs of shoes?! ;) Mackenzie is slowly catching up to me with 10 pairs of shoes of her own!

Anyways, one of the six pairs was thrown out completely and 4 of them I'm giving to good will. The last pair of shoes I can barely part with. I loved them soooo much in the store and just HAD to have them. I wore them once to work and once to church, but the problem is I bought them a half size too small. I had a horrible blister when I wore them to work several years ago and haven't worn them since. So, before I send them off to good will, does anyone want them?

They are a size 8 medium and the heel isn't very high. As long as you are within driving distance from my house or my mom's house, I'll bring them to you! Let me know if you want them, otherwise next weekend they'll find a new home in the strip center near our house (Goodwill)!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday Flashback - New Jersey

Back in 1999, my family went to Ocean City, New Jersey for a week. When I say "family" I mean my entire "family" - uncles, aunts, cousins and Grandma. My grandfather passed away in 1998, so this was our trip for him. Each small family had a room (4 families) and my grandmother slept on the couch. Despite the obvious issues one would find when joining 4 families/parenting styles in one house, we all had a great time. In fact, my immediate family and Brandon went back the next summer for a week.
This is me, my parents and my brother with my Grandma on the back porch of the house.

At the time, my great grandparents lived in Pennsylvania, so they came for a couple of days to visit and see us all. This is a picture of all of us together at dinner one evening.

If you ever want a beach vacation that's not in the Caribbean, I would recommend Ocean City, New Jersey. The weather was great even in July and the boardwalk has so many things to do.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

this weekend

This past weekend, Brandon's mom came for a visit (aka Nana). Mackenzie was the biggest ham when Nana arrived. She was running, dancing, laughing...you name it, she did it for a smile and laugh from us. I've never really seen her do so much of that for anyone other than me and Brandon. It was really really cute.

I probably say this every month, but I really like this age. She is learning and repeating so much. The other day I was singing songs while she was in the tub and she would sing along - her version of singing anyway. I started a new song and she looked at me and said "no." So I started another song and she said, "no". At first I though maybe she didn't want me to sing at all, but I wasn't sure, so I tried a different song and she was fine and sang along. When I tried to sing the previous songs she had said no to, she once again looked at me and said "no". Apparently she wasn't feeling it for those 2 songs.

I digress a lot! Sorry, back to this past weekend. Since it was gorgeous weather we spent some time outside blowing bubbles:

Playing with the new ball from Mackenzie's Nana.
We tried to do flips - or at least look between our legs!
In the next picture Mackenzie is singing. I couldn't get her to smile, so I started singing, "I love to pat the bible..." She loves this song and immediately started singing, "pat, pat" and doing the hand motions. I need to get it on video, but until then here's a quick snap shot.
This last picture is an example of her being a ham - she has already started doing a fake smile for the camera. Well maybe I should call it an exaggerated smile rather than fake.
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