Everyone has a story to tell, here's mine sprinkled with some creative projects along the way.
Thank you for stopping by and I hope you come back again.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

this Summer's Swim lesson recap

We had a PACKED Summer this year. Didn't go on any vacations but our 'staycation' proved to be just as busy as if we had planned and executed a family roadtrip.
One of the new things we did this year was sign the kids up for swim lessons. We've never saw the need for this when we were in California bec. my inlaws had a pool where we can teach the kids basic skills and where they can practice for as long as they want.

But early in the Summer, Maddie was invited by a classmate to go to a public pool without me! The thought of my little girl, who does not know how to swim, tackle the pool without me scared me to death so with Mitch and I agreeing....we signed both kids up for swim lessons. Luckily a nearby high school's swim team were offering lessons for a pretty reasonable price.

The kids' lessons were for two weeks (July 9th- 20th). We signed them up for the MWF days and they each got 20 minutes semi-private lessons and then we got to stay in the pool for about 1 1/2 more hours to practice and for the kids to play a bit.

It was a great experience for both of them and I'm not sure if the 20 minutes per day that Maddie got was enough for her but I know that it made a change on her skill level as well as Marcus'. Here are some photos I took during the whole two weeks....

Loving my water babies!!!

Have a great day.

Till next time,

Monday, July 30, 2012

You make me happy layout *PBK*

Hello friends. Happy Monday. Hope you had a great weekend. We are nearing the end of Summer here and our minds have shifted to "getting ready for school". It's still July but "school" already?! Yeah, that's how I feel to. Speaking of school....I found this great school chair last year at the antique store that I used to take photos of my little sweetheart that I used in this page..

You Make Me Happy

I love the products included in the "Country Picnic" July Paper Bakery Add-on kit and how it complemented my photos so well. Here are some more close ups...

I'm up on the PBK blog today and you can see a few more close up shots of this project here. You can learn more about this kit and the other kits has to offer here.

Hope you all have a great start of your week.

Till next time,

Friday, July 27, 2012

Traditional Cheesecake *Food Friday Share*

It's Friday again! and that means I am sharing a recipe with photos. Cheesecakes are MY FAVORITES dessert!!! There's something about the densed but delicate dessert that gets me really happy and content.

I got this recipe off of The Stocked Kitchen cookbook. I borrowed it from the library and I have to say, it's a great one to have in your recipe library. The premis of the book is that you can make anything in that cookbook if you stock your kitchen/pantry with what the author thinks are the essentials. I love that concept bec. how many times have we (I) gone out to the store to search for a specific seasoning or herb or cut of meat for ONE recipe and never use that item again? In this book, she actually gives you the ingredient lists and it gets used up in two, three or five recipes. Brilliant!

Traditional Cheesecake

Traditional Cheesecake
Serves 8

1 box yellow cake mix
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cups milk
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray.
2. Reserve 1 cup of the cake mix. Combine the remaining cake mix with the vegetable oil and 1 egg with an electric hand mixer. Press into the bottom of the springform pan.
3. Beat together the cream cheese and sugar with the hand mixer. Add the remaining 3 eggs and mix well. Add the reserved cake mix, the milk, lemon juice, and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.
4. Pour over the crust. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the center is set.
5. Cool to room temperature and then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Remove the sides of the springform pan and serve.

My thoughts:
1. The main reason I wanted to try this recipe was because of the yellow cake mix ingredient. It intrigued me. Usually cheesecakes call for 4-5 blocks of cream cheese but with this one, it only asks for 2. I think that makes this dessert affordable.
2. As you can see, I was a little rebellious and opted for a rectangle pan rather than the springform used in the recipe. I don't have a springform pan and was not in any hurry to get me one just so I can use it in this dessert so instead, I used an 11x8" pan. I placed two sheets of parchment paper in the pan (one going vertical and the other horizontal) and left about 1 inch extra on the sides so I can easily pull out the cake after it has baked and cooled. I then peeled the parchement paper away from the cake and voila, perfect sides and no need for an extra purchase of a springform pan!
3. The cake was delish! It was rich and the sweetness was just right for me. Next time, however, I will add some fresh strawberries on top just to give it more color and that fresh berry taste to it.
4. I think this would be great to serve when you have company and/or during special occasion. But with the price of the ingredients cut in half, you might want to make it for your family even on regular, non holiday days. :)

Thanks for stopping by.

Till next time,

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Deer Sighting

Ok so you wanna read something crazy? Something, I consider totally Colorado?

Almost a week ago after coming home from taking the kids to swim class, Mitch spotted two deers in the front lawn of our neighbor...right across the street from our home! I brought my camera to swim class and so I quickly grabbed it from the car and started snapping the following photos...

I also got lucky that I had my telephoto lens on which made it perfect to get this shots without having to be too close to the wildlife.

We've been in the Springs for about 18 months now and these are the times when I'm still in shock at how different life here is compared to Southern California. Really, I mean we would never see this in Norwalk!

So there you have it. My latest "only in Colorado" stories.

Have a great Thursday.

Till next time,

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Water Bottle Sling Bags

Hi guys! So I had a day last week where I didn't have to do any photo or scrapbook work and I treated myself with some time with fabrics and my sewing machine and this is what I made...

Don't you just love my adorable model? My initial vision is that both kids will model their new water bottle totes for me BUT since my son's already 9, somehow taking pictures are not on his 'must do' list anymore. WHAT!!! Yeah that's me freaking out.  Hopefully we can still compromise with the big events/holidays and if that's the case then I can let him go with shoots like these.

Anyways back to the bag, I got this idea/tutorial/pattern from this site which I pinned in my Fabric love board pinterest.

I love how easy it is to make and her instructions were plain and simple for even this beginner sewer. The only thing I would change is the length of the strap. I followed the instructions to a T, but I think it's made for smaller children bec. Marcus' bag is a little bit higher on his body than what I would consider a sling bag to be.

I was drawn to this project bec. of how easy it would be for the kids to bring water to our hiking trips or even simple park trips. No more me carrying 3-4 bottles in my purse while everyone walks/hikes without any load.

 And here's the two bags finished...

I was able to make these two bags in an afternoon so if you are looking for a quick sewing project to make soon, I hope you consider this one.

Till next time,

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Marcus' 9th birthday recap

One of the fun parts of my birthdays from now on is that after three days, we get to celebrate another birthday in the family and that's for Marcus! I still can't believe he is 9 now and I love, love, love it that we share a birthday month. Just makes the celebrations even better when I can share it with my son. :)

So exactly a week ago was his big day. The day before, we got him a couple of gifts that he had wished for with birthday money from us and Lolo and Lola. I wrapped it up Monday night and here's what he woke up to...

I made him suffer a bit till he can open his gifts cause we waited for Dad to come home from school at noon before he was able to unwrap one of his toys. He was a great sport though and I'm so proud of him for waiting all that time. It was nice that he got phone calls from grandparents during the morning that it took his attention away from waiting for a bit.

I had some coupons for this place so we went there as a family for lunch and arcade games for the kids.

One of the planned coupons that we were going to use was the free kid's meal that the kids have because of participating at the Summer Reading program at the Library. Unfortunately bec. they were already having a Tuesday meal deal that day, they couldn't honor our coupons. Bummer! threw my budget calculations off but we still decided to do it since it's not going to be a big difference from the number that I've planned on spending.
This is us eating our buffet meal. During our meal, Grandma Tolman called and he got to talk to her too. It was nice to have Mitch with us too. It's been a while since we've done anything with him bec. he's so busy with school. The kids ate their favorite- Pizza! While Mitch and I tested the salads, pastas and pizza too.
After stuffing ourselves with food, we walked into the game room and the kids got to play a few games. I love that the kids were being conscious at which game they spend their points/money on. They weren't quick to waste it.They didn't even do the rides bec. it will take away half of their points. Love that the kids are growing up to be sensible of what they have.

He sure gave this game all of his energy and it paid off! He got 9 tickets!

After the IT'Z, we went back home and he got to open his other gift...Lego Batman 2 for the Wii. It was an expensive gift but that's what he really wanted so we got it for him. One of the things I love about having a 9 year old child, is that you can explain to him why he's getting only x number of gifts this year versus the years past bec. his gift requests are getting more and more expensive. He didn't complain at all and instead, immersed himself at his new game for the rest of the afternoon.

After dinner we had his birthday cake and ice cream. I always ask the kids what kind of cake they wanted and this year Marcus seems to be wanting the same thing as last year. The only difference is that this one was a rectangle cake and last year's was a round one. Ok so I know the cake looks horrible but I was in a tight budget to purchase one nor did I have the mental power/capacity to make my own fondant cake. These are the times when I wished I still lived by a great friend that does cakes so I can just call on  her. :)

and the birthday boy making his wish and blowing out the candles. The great thing about this year's cake is that I didn't forget the candles and he had 9 to blow out. This just shows that I learn from my mistakes. LOL.

So that's it. Thanks for stopping by and sharing my recap of my son's 9th birthday.

Till next time,

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Crafty share

Hello friends and happy Monday. Do you feel like your Summer is going by so fast? I still can't believe that stores are filling up their shelves with school supplies and we're not even done with July yet! Can't believe that our new school year starts in less than a month. Crazy!

Well if you are still in the middle of your Summer break or needing to make something before the busyness of life kicks back in high gear...try making a mini album or using a spray mist technique on your latest layout.

Happy 31st Birthday mini album
I made this mini using the July Paper Bakery Add On Kit. You can see more of this album plus a little tip I shared with the PBK blog readers here.

Home Made
I had a blog post up on Ella Publishing last week in which I shared how I repurposed a scrapbook supply. I used some die cut shapes as masks on this layout.

I even made a tutorial to add to that blog post and you can see it in it's entirety here.

So there you have it. I hope this little crafty share inspired you to create something beautiful today.

Till next time,

Friday, July 20, 2012

Korean BBQ Chicken Thighs

Hello there and welcome to our Food Friday edition.

Today I'm sharing this recipe which can be found here. This is one of the dishes that I have in my chicken dishes board in Pinterest. You can always check out the rest of my pins and boards here.

So my notes on this dish...
1. first off, the recipe is made to serve 2 therefore you will need to recalculate how much of each ingredients you will need if you are feeding a family. I just tripled the amounts mentioned and used about 6-8 thighs so there's enough if anyone wants seconds or for leftovers.
2. I love how I can marinate the meat with the seasonsings for up to 24 hours. I usually start the marination process in the morning so I don't have to worry about it for the rest of the day.
3. I also love how it's super easy and yet very tasty. The things that I think makes this delish is the honey (for sweetness), ginger (brings out the Korean flavor of the dish) and sesame oil (again another popular flavor for asian recipes).
4. You do need to fry these babies up so prepare for that. I always have a splatter cover to keep the grease at bay and I have my fan on so the house won't smell like ginger and sesame oil all night long. Although I don't think that's such an awful smell.
5. This dish is great bec. it does not require much unique ingredients (everything can be purchased at your local grocery store) and makes use of an inexpensive cut of meat which are the chicken thighs.
6. Because this is an asian dish....I like to pair it with rice (brown rice for us) and some steamed veggies.

So there you have it.

Thanks for stopping by and till next time,

Thursday, July 19, 2012

a birthday recap

So last Saturday was my birthday and with so many ways to celebrate one's birthday...here's how I chose to celebrate mine.....

I decided to make breakfast (french toast,sausage and fruit). Mitch was telling me to eat at Denny's since they give you free breakfast on your birthday but I told him we'll save up our food money for a later meal.

After that, I got ready and drove to the Denver area to window shop at the mall there. I took the kids with me and we visited some of my favorite shops like Anthropologie, J Crew and Forever 21. We also stopped by the Lego store.

ended up not purchasing anything in these stores but getting a full eye candy of their new collections and lines were fun.

the Lego store was having a build a nation program going on and a lot of people participated in building this city in one of the hallways of the mall. I encouraged Marcus to take part but he was a little bit shy.

After we walked around the mall and checked out all the stores we wanted to see....we drove to Krispy Kreme which was just one exit away from us.

the last time I was here, the kids' weren't with us and I wanted them to see how the donuts are made. We got a dozen and had a couple of samplings of our donuts before the we headed home to the Springs.

When we were there, they were cooking/making apple fritters. It was a surprisingly LONG process. I didn't anticipate how slow they move from one part of the proces to another. I love the photo above bec. it shows the conveyor belt where the products are while the kids were reflected on the glass on the far bottom corner of the photo.

this is how they get glazed. They look so great after the glaze shower!

After that we drove back to the Springs and Mitch joined us for a late lunch/early dinner at a Chinese buffet. I chose the place just because I had a coupon for that restaurant *wink*. The place wasn't that bad and because we came in at 3:30 pm, there were no crowds to fight with.

 Everyone was so stuffed after the meal and we headed back home. I left the family and drove to a second hand clothing store after. This was my "me" time and I hit the jackpot! When I walked in the store, the associate asked me if I was there for their bag sale. I replied no and asked for more info. Apparently this store was having a bag sale for all their clearance items. The give you a bag and whatever you can squeeze in that bag that has a clearance tag... you will get for $15. Score!

I went home with two shorts, one skirt, two tops and two purses. Now that's a great way of ending a birthday! Won't you agree?

Anyways, that's how I celebrated my day. Thanks to all that called and greeted me, especially on facebook. You all made my day super special.

Till next time,