Saturday, July 31, 2010

A "Do Nothing" Saturday

Today was the kind of day that rarely happens in Arizona. It was almost like a day back in Washington...cloudy all day, raining off and on, but the big difference is that it was also almost 100 degrees outside while being those things.

So, since hubby was working all day, Caleb and I took a day off from everything. We just lounged around in our jammies all morning...heck I didn't even shower until almost noon! We watched TV, played cars & trains, put a puzzle together, colored, and napped. It is so nice to not leave the house all day and just hang out together. Most weekends are filled with birthday parties, shopping, errands and just lots of things to do...but not this weekend. And, let me tell you...I LOVE IT!

Now tomorrow, we have to leave the house and get groceries for the week, but I think that we may take the rest of that day off too and just make it a weekend of just about nothing. And you know what? I don't feel one bit guilty about it!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Blueberry Lemon Bundt Cake

Ok...even if you don't listen to other things that I say, you must do this: Make. This. Cake. It was so delicious and full of summer flavors, you won't be disappointed.

I found this recipe over at My Baking Addiction and upon first glance at the title of the recipe I knew that I would be making this cake. First off, I have some kind of weird obsession with bundt cakes. I don't know exactly what it is that makes me love them so much. Maybe the flutes in pan, or the old fashioned-ness of them, or possibly it's the whimsy that comes with frosting them...I don't really know anything other than I love a good bundt. Maybe (if your lucky) I will share my famous Bailey's Bundt Cake recipe with you around the holidays...it is absolutely decadent!

I was so glad that I took the time to make this cake. It really was phenomenal. The flavors work well together and the cream cheese frosting on top really makes this amazing. As Jamie over at My Baking Addiction said about the recipe:
"The blueberries ended up being little bits of heaven that burst in your mouth with each forkful . The added cream cheese glaze pushed this cake over the edge and made it truly stunning and worthy of being on any brunch or dinner table."
And I couldn't agree with her more...it really was a stunning cake to look at and tasted just as good, if not better than it looked!

Blueberry-Lemon Bundt Cake
From: My Baking Addiction

For the Cake:
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 teaspoon for blueberries and zest
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • juice of one lemon
  • Nonstick cooking spray, for pan

For the Cream Cheese Glaze:
  • 1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Directions for the Cake:
*For best results, coat the inside of the Bundt pan with cooking spray just before filling it with the batter to prevent it from pooling in the bottom.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk 2 1/2 cups flour with baking powder and salt; set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Beat in vanilla and lemon juice. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of sour cream.
  3. In a bowl, toss blueberries and zest with remaining teaspoon flour; gently fold into batter. Coat a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan with cooking spray. Spread batter in prepared pan.
  4. Bake cake on bottom rack of oven until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes. Invert onto a rack; cool completely, top side up. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving or drizzle with the cream cheese glaze.

Directions for the Cream Cheese Glaze:
  1. Mix the cream cheese with the butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and milk in a bowl.
  2. Heat in a microwave oven for 10-15 seconds.
  3. Drizzle spoonfuls over the cooled cake.

I hope you take the time to make this cake...it really is a wonderful dessert that celebrates the flavors of summer! Enjoy! 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A BIG Thank You

Here's that last vacation post that I promised you...but it's a little something different. It's not to show what we did, but to say "thank you" to our good friends. Thank you Moore family for inviting us to come with you, thank you for finding the cabin and for planning everything. We had such a great time and really appreciate it!

Tom and Melissa on the back porch.
The grill masters...they too turns playing supervisor and worker for each meal.
And thank you guys especially for helping us to get out of the heat of the valley and escape, even for just a few days, to somewhere with beautiful trees, a little green and a lot cooler climate!

The view from the back of the cabin.
So, once again, THANK YOU Moore family!
We had a wonderful time!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Short, but sweet.

Sometimes a simple, short, sweet message from a loved one can make you feel absolutely wonderful and lift your mood. Late tonight I noticed a voicemail on my phone from my dad. It wasn't a long message, just one that simply stated, "It's just your dad, I missed your voice, bye, bye." While there were not a lot of words used, this message spoke volumes.

It might be too late to call him back tonight, but I will be thinking of him until I can call him tomorrow morning. Good night dad...I love you!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My version of the "Boys of Summer"

On the day that we took the kids mini-golfing, the same place also had three different go-kart tracks for lots and lots of racing fun. Us girls just sat back and watched and cheered our "boys of summer" on (but I think we secretly wish we had raced also) and took photos.

First off the smaller set of boys rode on the track just for children. They had so much fun!

Thomas was already a pro at driving the go-karts...


...but, Caleb had never ridden in one, let alone drove one. So for the first few times around the track, the man working the track took Caleb on a teaching ride, letting him just sit in the go-kart while the worker steered, gave the kart gas all while giving Caleb tips on how to drive the kart.


After a few times around the track with his instructor, Caleb was let loose on his own.


And the kiddo did a pretty good job...especially since he was so short that he had to slink all the way down in the seat to get his foot to reach the pedal!

Next up all four boys rode on the family track, with the dads driving and the kids riding along!


And finally, the big boys decided to race each other on the fast track...with the little boys cheering their dads on!


Sorry if I am boring you with all of my vacation posts, but this mama likes to take photos and document EVERYTHING! But, don't worry I've just got only one more up my sleeve for later in the week.

Monday, July 26, 2010

An ALL CAPS kinda day

Today was definitely a MONDAY...yep, one that is in all caps.

Left the house later than I planned this morning. (negative)

Morning coffee meeting. (positive)

Left work early. (positive)

But, I had to leave work to take Roxy to the vet for a cyst. Vet was a little alarmed and will call me Wednesday with the results. (doubly negative)

Took Caleb to the Doctor to have his thumb looked at. He slammed it in the shower door on Friday and it has steadily gotten worse, and very infected...I think it's as red at Rudolph's nose and twice as big as his other thumb. (doubly negative)

But the kiddo was a real trooper and didn't cry once! (positive)

So, needless to say, the negatives of my day outweighed the positives, but it's my life and I love it for all that it is...the good and the bad! Just keep the little one in your thoughts and pray for quick healing.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

If she wasn't so darn cute...

...she probably wouldn't still be alive!

While on vacation, we had housesitter's stay at our house and our dog decided that she needed to go completely wacky while we were gone. She broke out of her crate and left her mark on just about all of the carpets in the house. She wouldn't eat, wouldn't drink...she was just a mess without us! So when we got home from Vegas for our one night stint at home, we had to break out the carpet cleaner and attack the mess.

I wanted to be mad at her, but she just looked at me with her big brown eyes and I just melted. How can I be mad when she is so adorable?

Then when we got home from the White Moutains, we had to do it all over again.

Yes, we had housesitters, and yes, they cleaned up the best they could, but I don't think I will be able to pay anyone enough to ever come over and housesit for us again. Off to the kennel for Roxy for the next vacation...


I mean, just look at that face...how could I stay mad at her?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mini Golf Adventure

While on vacation up in the White Mountains of Arizona, we got to take Caleb mini golfing for the first time. Our fellow vacationing family, the Moore's, were also there with us and Caleb had two other golfers playing the course with him, Thomas and Taylor. The kids all had so much fun!

First off we had to wait our turn to play the course...you can see my little monkey's
excitement all over his face!


For Caleb's first shot Daddy attempted to show him what to do...


But of course my little Mr. Independent had his own way to do things...it kinda looks more like he's playing hockey, but it seemed to get the job done!


So once again, daddy tried his hardest to show Caleb how to hold his golf club correctly...


 But yet again...that crazy golf stroke was out again about 1 minute later.


But all in all it was all about the kids having a good time, and us adults sure had a good
time laughing at all the fun the kids were having!

Our friends daughter, Taylor.
Happy boy after making the hole!
Caleb and his golfing buddy Thomas.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Death By Chocolate

So about a month ago we had some good friends over for dinner. We don't get the chance to entertain very often, mostly because my schedule and hubby's schedule don't seem to match up very often. But, when we do get to have friends over we always have such a good time! And, our guests always get to be introduced to (or have to endure) at least one new recipe and this time, it was a dessert that I choose because I had most of the ingredients on hand, but also because I was so intrigued by the name of the recipe. 

Death By Chocolate was the name, and if you ask me, if it's time for me to go being killed by chocolate would not be a bad way to go at all! 

The recipe calls for the following ingredients:

  • 8 whole Regular Size Heath Bars Or Butterfinger Bars (I used 4 of each)
  • 1 box Brownie Mix (19.8 Oz. Box)
  • Ingredients Needed to Make Brownies
  • 2 boxes Instant Chocolate Pudding (1.4 Oz. Box, I Used Fat Free/Sugar Free)
  • 4 cups Milk, More or Less As Directed On Pudding Package
  • 16 ounces, weight Cool Whip 
Directions:
Prepare brownies according to package directions. Allow to cool and cut up into 1- to 2-inch squares.

Toss candy bars in the freezer for approximately 20 minutes. Remove from freezer, unwrap and place in a zip lock bag. Pound with a rolling pin until the bars are broken into pieces.

Mix pudding with the required amount of milk according to package directions.

In a glass trifle bowl, layer 1/2 of the cake cubes, 1/2 of the pudding, 1/2 of the crushed candy bars, and 1/2 of the whipped topping. 

Repeat layers in the same order, saving a last little bit of candy bar crumbles to sprinkle on top before serving.

Cover and refrigerate for several hours. Serve and enjoy! (Link to original recipe)


I really enjoyed this dessert, but a little bit of it definitely went a long way and this serves a lot of people. The only change that I would make would be to use less Cool Whip next time, it seemed to kind of overpower the rest of the flavors.

So, if you are looking for a chocolate desert that is fancy to look at, easy to make and the kids can help you put together this is one you should try!

Feeling Crafty!

Lately I have been feeling very creative, and I am just itching to get all of my craft stuff out and organized and start making things again. 

Ever since I had my son Caleb, my world has just been a whirlwind. When I was pregnant with him, we had to pack up most of the stuff in our office and combine our office and our guest room together since we needed a room for our new baby. My craft stuff was packed up and I really haven’t touched it since. As anyone who becomes a mom knows, having a baby takes up all of your time…tack on being a fulltime working mom and the task is even harder. There is no time to breathe, let alone getting “free time” to work on crafting. And as most of you know, I then tackled going back to college just after my son turned 1. The past few years have rarely left any time for me at all.

But things are changing! I am finally done with school, so no more nights away from home or long hours spent reading textbooks, writing papers or doing homework. AND, my son is finally at a point that he can play by himself sometimes…while it’s hard for me to handle that he is becoming so independent, it is also giving me the chance to get that all elusive “free time” that others talk about.

So, I think that it’s time to get out my crafting stuff and get to work. But a few things must happen first:

#1 - Rearrange the office/guest room. I have a plan in mind, but will need a certain hubby to help with the heavy lifting.

Craft Room Inspiration #1: Shelves, storage, stuff...oh my!
#2 - Make a place for me…I’m thinking shelves on the wall, a nice big workspace and some new task lighting. Ohhh…the possibilities are endless!

Craft Room Inspiration #2: This workspace is just heavenly...lots of natural light and everything in it's place!

#3 - Get my stuff out. Look at it. Decide what is good, what is bad, what to keep, what to sell. Take inventory.

#4 - Get everything within arms reach. Organize things and get everything ready for step 5.
Craft Room Inspiration #3: Another pretty space, in RED!...with a place for everything and everything in it's place!
#5 - Work on some projects. Maybe tackle scrapbooking my son’s first 3 years? Maybe make some cards? Maybe make some jewelry? I will probably settle on the scrapbooking aspect…I really want to make sure that our lives are chronicled and the memories saved.

Oh my…I am getting so excited, I can barely contain myself!
Now, I’m off to call my hubby to talk to him about all of my ideas!
I’ll keep you all up on the progress and post photos along the way.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The "Details" of Las Vegas

This time in Las Vegas, we didn't have a lot of money to spend...the budget is stretched a little thin in our household, as I am sure is the way across most of American right now. So we just took our time walking around the different hotels and casinos on our end of the strip.

Getting to have this "extra" time walking around, I started noticing all of the little details and beauty that goes into the big hotels in Las Vegas. As they say, "it's all in the details!" My hubby made fun of me, but after noticing all of the details, I began taking photos of just about everything. I absolutely love my new camera and I am really starting to get used to all of the settings and I was having fun taking all kinds of photos.

Here are some of the "details" from our hotel:



As you can tell, I was really having fun with my camera!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vegas, Baby!

Chris and I by the waterfall just outside our hotel, the Wynn.

Chris and I had a fabulous time in Las Vegas last weekend! It was hot, hot, hot outside, but it didn't matter, we still had a blast. We gambled a little, ate a little, gambled a little, saw Garth Brooks, walked the Strip (kinda...I don't know if I mentioned how HOT outside it was), gambled a little more, drank a little and just plain ol' relaxed. It was nice to get away for a little time just the two of us!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Viva Las Vegas


So we are getting ready to set off for our first trip of the summer…hubby and I are taking a childfree weekend and heading on over to Las Vegas.

The little one is spending some time with grandma and papadaka and we are driving from one desert to another desert. Yes, I know that Vegas in July isn’t anyone’s idea of getting away, but heck, I'm on a budget and it’s way cheaper in the summer!

This trip isn’t going to be anything fancy, just a short break from reality. It will include a lot of sleeping in (‘cause anyone that is a parent to a toddler knows that sleeping in NEVER happens anymore), some photo taking, a little bit of gambling,


Definitely some time spent in a lounge chair next to this pool.
(With wonderful, yummy, drinks in hand and possibly some poolside gambling.)



And a special appearance by one of my favorite artists of all time…


Yep, Garth Brooks! My hubby scored us some of the hardest to get tickets in Vegas and our seats are awesome. We are only 10 rows back in the center. I can’t wait…

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summers are "Indoor Fun" times in Arizona


It is getting so hot here in the Valley of the Sun…by the time I pulled into the parking lot at work this morning it was already 94 degrees out. Yep, that’s right…94 degrees at 8:00 am. Yuck!

By the end of the week it’s supposed to get over 115 degrees outside for the highs, and the 90s for our lows. Yowza! Definitely a drawback of living in the desert!

This is the time of year that you notice that no one is outside that doesn’t have to be. No children playing outside (unless you hear splashing from a backyard pool), no one out for walks with their dogs, and the local parks are like ghost towns. We all know better…we just sit inside in front of vents that are blowing air-conditioned comfort or underneath a ceiling fan going so fast, you would think it was going to just take off into flight by itself.

So hats off to everyone that braves the Arizona summers…we definitely have to pay for our wonderful weather for the other 9 months of the year, but getting through the heat of the summer is worth it!
 
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