Down on the Farm

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

While on maternity leave, I want to do as many things with my girls as I have energy for. Truth be told, in trying to balance home life with the new addition, it seems to help me to plan for outings just to get me out of the house. Since my mom was in town, and we had storms roll in, she elected to stay home to watch Tesla. Mari and I had a date to Plano Heritage Farm Museum for their pre-school event Caterpillars and Butterflies. I was unsure if they were still going to have the event because of the storms, but they did!

A little backstory…they host these type of events every so often, so check their website if you want to learn more. It costs $8.50 for the adult and $5 for the child. You must call in advance to reserve a spot. Call early, too, because we seemed to join an entire playgroup from a nearby church. The event runs two hours and you leave with a little more knowledge about the farm and a craft.

First, we went to feed the chickens and hens. Mari was more fascinated by the corn grinder than actually feeding the animals. It was funny, she just threw the feed and walked back wanting to check things out.

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Then, we went to check out the goats and sheep. Mari was happy to hear that sheep really do say “baaaa.” When we walked away, she made a joke and said, “Baaaaah sheep” while waving bye. Then let out a Mari giggle, while saying, “Mommy, I said Baaaaah…sounds like Bye.” “Yes, Mija, you are right.”

Then we took a rather uncomfortable tractor ride 3 times around the farm. We were really cramped. It was at that point that I was giving Mari props for her choice in attire. I had put on a black dress and black flip flops (such a freakin’ city slicker right here).

Next, we went to the pavilion to learn more about butterflies and do the craft. We even played a catch a butterfly game. Mari wasn’t really into the game. I bribed her with a dollar if she would catch a butterfly. Sure enough, she caught the first one. Nice.


Because she was really ready to go by this point, we opted to go to the old schoolhouse. Our leader had set up a coloring activity there, so we looked it over. She really enjoyed this part! She liked the small desks, the crayons, and also the school room. There were just a handful of kids in this part.

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Finally, we ventured down to the creek where the water was a-flowing. We were both afraid we were going to be eaten alive by mosquitoes, so after I snapped the photo, we headed back to go home.


When we finally made it home, Mari proudly hung her butterfly craft in her window.


We had a good time and would definitely recommend this for kiddos who enjoy nature and/or farms. However, I would be sure to wear comfortable clothes, pack some water, and be prepared to have quite a bit of time on your own away from the group. Don’t forget the camera, and strollers are ok. Had I dressed better, we would have explored the farm a bit more. Had we both not needed a nap, we would have stayed longer too. Smile Thanks Mom!

Singer Sew Easy House Party

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I know this post is long overdue, sorry! Anyway, I wanted to start off by saying thanks to all of my friends and family who were able to attend the party. It was a huge success (well, to me anyway) and I felt confident that everyone left having learned something new about sewing. A few even left feeling more comfortable in their own abilities and stated that they were going to attempt more projects on their own.
Before the party, I held a Skype session, had a one-on-one session, and recorded a few YouTube videos too. Here is the first one:
Singer Sew Easy House Party Swag
On Mother’s Day, 9 lovely ladies came to my house and crammed in my dining room to sew. I suggested that they bring their own machines if they wanted to, but I would be featuring the new Singer Confidence Stylist. Here’s another YouTube video I recorded talking about the Machine.
Singer Confidence Stylist Machine
The main project was to upcycle or repurpose an old favorite t-shirt into a regular tote bag. First of all, I have to say that I snapped photos of the entire process and you know…I committed photographer sin by not verifying that I had a memory card in the camera! Thank goodness my husband was there for a bit to snap some photos. I will post a separate blog how to do the project, but for now we’ll just focus on the party. ha ha!
I served light refreshments, including Orangina, Figi water, Izze, and Mexican Coke as the drinks and some taquitos and thumbprint cookies for us to munch on for added sugar rush. Additionally, we had red wine and prosecco in case someone need some liquid courage to be crafty! ha ha!
As the party host, I received the opportunity to purchase the machine for 20% off the listed price. Regular retail price is $499. Jo-Ann had it on sale for $299, so 20% off of that put it at $265 including tax. PLUS, I also got a nifty black travel bag to put the sewing machine in!! I’m a sucker for a deal. While I did not purchase the machine for myself, my mother-in-law took advantage of the opportunity! Lucky for me, I get to enjoy it for the rest of the summer until it goes home with her at the end of her stay!


  • I really liked all of the party swag from this House Party. Most of the coupons were great.
  • The included project was ok and easy to follow.
  • The patterns from Simplicity were awesome and I can’t wait to try making a skirt!
  • I loved the included thread from Singer!
  • The Burdastyle measuring cards sure come in handy when shopping for patterns for the girls.


  • The 50% off of Martha Stewart crafts coupons were not so great because it had to be used towards items that weren’t on sale. Every time I’ve gone, all Martha Stewart craft items have been 20-40% off, so I can’t use it.
  • The included fabric for the roll-up project was not so great. I know it is hard to please everyone, but these just weren’t colors I would have chosen.
  • The extra advertisements for the ironing accessories were unnecessary.
  • The bajillion flyers for summer programs were also overkill, in my opinion.
  • I did not like having so much extra wasted paper. I just tossed it in the recycle bin.
  • The sparkly Martha Stewart decoration looked beautiful in the photo. When I opened it, there was glitter EVERYWHERE!! Talk about a mess. I’m still finding glitter and that’s because I didn’t even consider hanging it. awful!
As far as the machine goes, though! I love it. If I hadn't purchased a machine a year ago, I totally could see myself owning this one. 

Peach Empanadas

Friday, May 27, 2011

Last week, the need for fresh peaches overwhelmed me. I think it has something to do with the weather getting warmer. Back when I was a kiddo (here we go with another memory), mom would indulge in all sorts of fresh fruits. These include peaches, apricots, and watermelon. I don't particularly like watermelon. When she was visiting last week, she, Don, and Mari tore into the watermelon while I sipped on my sweet tea. Then the urge hit...I wanted peaches! Peach cobbler, peach empanada, peach tea, millions of peaches, peaches for me!

I went to Love & War (review to come) to satisfy the peach cobbler craving. It only made me wish I would've made some myself. Instead, I went to the Google to find a peach empanada recipe and happened upon bread & honey's blog. {loveit}

It was quite fun! Here's the recipe as posted from Alice's bread & honey (thanks Alice):

Peach Empanadas


for the dough...
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, diced
4 tablespoons iced water

for the filling...
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2-3 large ripe peaches, pitted and coarsely chopped (seriously, chop them good or even use a food processor)

sugar for sprinkling


Lightly butter and flour a cookie sheet.

To make the dough: Combine butter with flour, sugar and salt until coarsely mixed. Add enough water to form a dough. Chill for at least 20 minutes. Roll out on floured board. Cut dough into circles as small as you like but no larger than 9 inches in diameter. 
To make filling: In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, spices and pinch of salt; add peaches and vanilla; stir well. 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Spoon peach filling on one half of the circle, leaving an ample border to fold over and seal the other half. Moisten half of the circle on the fruit side with ice water. Fold dough over fruit filling and press edges together with the tines of a fork. You can also spoon filling into the center of a circle, moisten the edges, and put another circle of dough on top and seal. Chill for at least 10 minutes. Brush tops of empanadas lightly with ice water and sprinkle with sugar. With a sharp knife, pierce vent holes in each one. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 5 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees, and continue to bake for another 10 minutes until the pies are golden. Let them cool and serve warm or cold plain or with ice cream.

**note: I added a pinch of ginger to my spices and the peaches. I probably would've taken the skins off the peaches and chopped finer. I also would've cooked on parchment paper because I prefer to not have to clean up as much.**

Adding a Godson

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Six days after Tesla's arrival, I started the day with the Seton Soles 5K.
I "ran" most of it, but before you all go thinking I'm some sort of freak, my running speed isn't that fast. Plus, it felt GREAT to get out and hit the pavement again. (shortly thereafter, I took a COMPLETE working out hiatus for 3 weeks) It was a wonderful run, benefiting an incredible cause and we look forward to doing it again next year. Mari doesn't look happy in this photo because she just scraped up her knee on the bounce house.

After a great breakfast, we all took an incredible nap and washed up for Andrew's confirmation. I was so honored that he chose me to be his Sponsor, because this also meant that I would be acting like a Godparent to him as well. I take that role very seriously! For the second time in less than a year, I would be up on the church altar, supporting a friend as they celebrate another sacrament receiving the Holy Spirit, becoming adult members of the Catholic community.
Some bits that came out from this day:

  • While we were lining up, I leaned over to him and said, man, this would've been great if they would have had a rehearsal. Without trying to sound rude, he casually told me that there was a rehearsal, but I was in labor when it happened and he didn't think I would've been able to make it.
  • During the ceremony, I could hear Tesla's cries over the priest. I kept glancing back, since we were seated in the front row and Don and the girls were in the very back. He handled it like an old pro. All of the women around him were gushing over his attentiveness as a father (not to mention how handsome he was!).
  • I spent 45 minutes trying on dresses to wear. I'd found clothes for Don and girls, but had forgotten about me! Six days after giving birth and I didn't fit into my maternity clothes or pre-pregnancy clothes. I settled on a pre-Tesla dress that was VERY forgiving (despite my ample bosom) and covered up with black cardigan. I was very happy that I figured out a way to make it all work.
  • I gave Andrew a Teen Bible, thinking he would probably relate to it better than a traditional Bible. Before I wrapped it, I found myself reading from it and was captivated by the way the Word was presented! I'm definitely keeping this in mind for my future duties as a Godparent.
  • My friend Xochitl makes the best celebration food ever!

Congratulations Andrew! Thank you for letting me be a part of your day!

The Sugarbaby's Birth Story

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This is the story of Tesla's BIRTH day set to music, captured with photos by the fabulous Michelle Monk Photography.

40 Year Journey

Friday, May 13, 2011

When my parents asked if I could come to town because our family would be receiving an award, I didn't give it a second thought. It seemed that I was able to be there, and so I made the trek back home to West Texas with my toddler and infant in tow.The normal 5.5 hour drive was nearly a 7 hour drive. We encountered some bad weather on the way up there, which slowed us down. We were stuck behind a few semi trucks (One which I swore was stalking me and following me, even following me to a rest stop! I, of course high-tailed it to the nearest courthouse to nurse the Sugarbaby instead of out in the picturesque country rest stop. My intuition was screaming, so I had to follow it!)

We arrived safely, albeit a suffering from a bad case of cabin fever. The Sugarbean, as always, is a wonderful traveler, and Tesla wasn’t so bad either. We just had to stop twice to nurse and once because she had a blow-out. For once, I didn’t encounter the city sneezing, so I had hope that maybe this time I would be able to enjoy my stay without having to deal with allergies. No such luck because those first few hours were the only hours I wasn’t sneezing or wheezing.

I digress…
We were invited to the Raiders Rojos Convocation ceremony to be honored as the Distinguished Alumni Family. My father is an alumni, my sister, myself, and Brother are all alumni. Mom is currently attending Tech to get her degree. Dad is also working on his Masters. (Not to mention the cousins and aunts that are also alumni!)

When I arrived, I was humbled looking upon the many faces of everyone in attendance. This was a bigger deal than I initially thought. When they called our name to receive the award, I swelled with pride and fought back tears.

I looked over to my father and tried to picture him as a 19 year old married kid with a child on the way. To have the bigger dream despite the adversity, and to wake up every single day with more tenacity and purpose than any 19 year old I’ve ever met, well, I’m just humbled. EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. He took a little longer than the typical 4 years to complete his degree, but he did. My mother supported him every step of the way. 

In those early days, my family was poor, but rich in love. The love shown from their family and friends, well, it’s just amazing! It was present in that moment when I looked out at my Aunt’s and Cousin’s face. I held Mari’s tiny hand in my own, praying that she would remember this moment and understand that struggles and perseverance WILL lead to greater things. I was proud to be there with my parents, representing the siblings. I was proud to have my daughters with me!
Thank you Mom & Dad for not only dreaming big, but show us how to dream big as well!

Sugarbaby - 5 Weeks

Monday, May 9, 2011

Miss Tesla, it's been 5 weeks and I can't believe how much you've changed!
You are doing such a great job of keeping your head up. Not only that, but you like to "crawl" up and down Mommy when we hold you. Every day, I give you tummy time and you don't hardly fuss. I think you actually like it. Your latest trick is to push up on your arms and hold your pose for a couple of seconds before you release.

Also, you've been cooing and squeaking up a storm. You also do this thing that your Daddy calls gronking, which is a combination of growling/grunting and honking. That's your favorite way to communicate to us actually. Every so often, you actually treat us with a smile, which totally melts our heart.

You are so very inquisitive, really trying to stay awake for an hour or a couple of hours at a time just taking it all in. Those BEAUTIFUL eyes of yours are always searching and exploring.

By the way, your sister, the Sugarbean, has been amazing! She loves you so, even proclaiming you to be her best friend. She's still as precocious and spirited as ever, but when it comes to you, you are the center of her world and she seems to captivate your attention just as much. While you and I were napping last week, your sister took her brown crayon and colored her walls with all sorts of circles. She also poured most of the guest shampoo down the drain, but not before spilling some on the carpet to emulate the steam cleaning we'd done on the carpets to prepare for your arrival. And with every escapade she says she's sorry and I just know she's exploring and being a 3 year old...preparing us for when you will walk her path and come up with your very own set of antics. And all will be forgiven with the burst of a belly laugh or a megawatt smile.
Oh, and slow down! You are starting to roll over already! You've managed to go from back to front, very nearly figuring out how to pull your arm out from under you. It's incredible how much strength you have! And how you've grown too! You are just over 22 inches and now weigh 11 pounds! Grow baby grow!

We love you so very much and you've brought such joy to our lives!

Mother's Day 2011

Day before Daddy's Birthday 2011

Thank you letter to my mom

Saturday, May 7, 2011

When I was really young, I clung fiercely to you. My siblings never had any fear to go out and conquer the world in their earlier days, but me, I was never more than an arms length away from you. As I grew, you actively encouraged me to go and explore more on my own. It was with great reluctance that I came out of my shell.

Then the teen years hit, and just as you had warned me, our relationship was strained. While I didn't have the adequate words, then, I was grateful that you were there for nearly every sporting or academic event. Victories and defeats, you loved me just the same. You taught me to fail with grace. You planted that seed of faith for me long before I could define it. One of the very special moments you gave me was that rainy day when after cheerleading tryouts when I was 12. I cried and cried because I wasn't immediately selected on the squad. The night before, you surprised me with a pair of brand name sneakers. A definite luxury considering you had insisted that you would never spend such money on a "label." You changed my shoes and I was certain that I was going to change my life. When I was dealt that defeat, you picked me up, and quietly drove in the rain to brunch. That was one of the few times where it was just the two of us and all of your attention was on me. You offered me few words of encouragement, but enveloped my body with an embrace that healed the hurt. In that moment, I discovered grace in defeat, acceptance despite shortcomings. In that single moment, I gained a greater level of respect and I began to see you more as a friend.

Of course, the remaining teen years were a struggle, but again, you were there to celebrate with me the happy moments...ALWAYS there for the lesser moments. I will never forget the pride beaming on your face during those happy times. Above the roar of the crowd, I could distinguish your whistle.

The other day I had a dream that my girls were grown and I was witnessing their victories. I caught a glimpse of myself in the reflection on window and could see your face. It wasn't until I became a mother that I truly appreciated all you did for our family. It wasn't until I became a mother the second time that I appreciated the emphasis you placed on yourself to be better FOR the family...gracefully balancing faith, family, work, friends, and philanthropy. You're right: You told me" no" so many times you could easily say yes, but  because you loved me, you had to say no. You told me I would be given a truly amazing gift in giving. You instilled in me that family will be there no matter what. My faith would lead me to where I needed to be, not where I wanted to be.

You are such an inspirational woman, a wonderful human being, and a incredible friend. I'm so very blessed that you are my mother. Thank you for everything.

Happy Mother's Day!

What a crock!

Monday, May 2, 2011

I love the slow cooker.

Growing up, I remember my mom using it every now and again, but it wasn't one of those go-to kitchen gadgets. When I graduated from college, I packed up my things and my mom gave me the ol' crockpot. She told me she never really used it, but that I might like it. I happily took it and piled it in the box with my brand new hand mixer (bought with the generous gift card my former co-workers at the ice company gave me), can opener, and all-purpose pan.

It went mostly unused until that first year of marriage. It was at this point that I was looking for easier meals that were semi-healthy, but good. Not to mention, meals that wouldn't require that I clean several pots and pans and scrub the kitchen...which, let's face it, is what any kitchen that I cook in usually looks like. Then, my sister introduced me to a simple easy chicken recipe* that not only satisfied, but was EXCELLENT on the pocket book. Woo-hoo!

At this point, I'd also acquired Don's slow cooker through our marriage. When my brother graduated from college, I bought him a cookbook solely for crockpot recipes and insisted it be one of his first purchases for his place. I think he might have used it once or twice and shoved it in the back of his cabinet. It wasn't long after that he asked if I wanted it and I said sure. So that is how I found myself with three slow cookers. On cool days like today, or weeks where I know I'll be much too busy, like this week, I will take out my little family of crockpots and put them to work. (what is going on with Texas that it was in the 40s today! Not complaining because soon enough we will have those triple digit temps, but whoa! Cheers to procrastination and not putting away the kiddos winter wear.)

Far left (and the crockpot that became mine after marriage):
Braised short ribs with button mushrooms and egg noodles in a marsala sauce 
Middle (newest crockpot from my brother)
Whole chicken, with garlic and pepper, a bit of onion and celery...this will make a great base for a meal 
Far right (the oldest crockpot, and quite possibly my favorite)
Pot roast with potatoes, celery, carrot, onion, and garlic

Usually when I cook with the crockpots, I like to use a Reynolds Slow Cooker Liner. Don is concerned about cooking the food in a plastic liner, but I'm living in ignorant bliss. Maybe they are bad. Maybe I should care, especially because I'm obsessive about so many other things. Maybe I hate scrubbing the slow cookers after wards. Yeah, that's it and it totally trumps everything else...for now.

*Easy Chicken Dinner, aka Salsa Chicken
Whole Chicken
1 jar of your favorite salsa...get crazy with it and try something with pin eapple or mango

Add chicken and entire contents of the jar to the slow cooker. Cook on low overnight. Your chicken will be tender and will fall right off the bone! I usually take off all of the chicken meat from the bone and will add a bit of water to the "juice/sauce" and it can be a pretty delicious and spicy chicken soup. Enjoy!

Do you cook with a slow cooker? If so, what is your favorite recipe?

Pink Glitter Baths - A Lush Review

Sunday, May 1, 2011

One Candy Fluff Egg and half of of a Dragon's Egg and you get one very excited and grateful toddler.

The other day, I indulged in half of a Dragon's Egg Lush bath. Half because the Sugarbean was supposed to join me in the bath, but because I like my baths hot, she normally joins me mid-way through. Unfortunately, while she was waiting for the water to cool, she turned on the I'm-three-and-I-don't-always-listen switch, so she wasn't able to join me. This was prior to my visit to Lush, so I saved half of the remaining bath bomb for her to have later. Truth be told, I knew she would go nuts over the surprise golden glitter that is housed in the middle of that bath bomb.

Fast forward a few days and to show my gratitude for how amazingly helpful she's been with the Sugarbaby, I bestowed upon her a limited edition Candy Fluff Egg. She was ecstatic! (So much so that she woke up early the next day demanding a bath. Well, we take our baths in the evening, so that was delayed.) She took great care walking it to the bathroom and gently placed it in a prominent position above the bath to remind her of the goodness to come.

Initially, I'd broken it in half and let it melt in the tub. I introduced the golden glitter and BAM! The light pink met the golden glitter and erupted into this orange sherbet delight. She was giddy and politely asked for more pink. I let her know that once we used it, it was over, but she wanted it. Since it was hers, I handed it to her and she held on to the pink fizzy goodness in her small hand. She was in heaven! It was so neat to see the sparkles in the water and it took me back to when I was a small girl and how much I enjoyed bath time.

I'm glad it brought an insane happiness over her body and it also made me happy with how soft and moisturized her skin was. We both suffer from eczema, and Lush products allow us to enjoy baths without the harsh effects from most other bath products. Additionally, her hair, while not immediately conditioned, began to shine and soften after I added a bit of their Retread. Lush products definitely play nice with other Lush products.

Do you all make your own bath bombs or do anything special for bathtime routines?

**I was not compensated for this review. I did get a tiny foot lotion sample during my purchase, but receiving that sample didn't not skew my opinion on their other products. This review is my own opinion. I am, however, open to reviewing products. Contact me if you have something you would like me to review.**

6th Anniversary...a low-key affair

I welcomed the day from the very beginning because Tesla needed to feed. She does this up and down feeding thing from 11PM - 1AM. In her "down" time, I reached for our journal (the same journal we exchanged on our wedding day and have been filling with our words for each anniversary, summarizing the year). I wrote my thoughts, not necessarily lucid, but aware of them, and grateful for having shared another year with my man. He's such an incredible blessing to me and I'm eternally grateful for all he does.

And when I crawled into bed just after 1, I glanced over at him and our newest daughter and I gave thanks to God. At 6AM, my sister walked in to the house for me to take her to the Sam's Club MS Bike 150 ride. She was going to ride over 150+  miles to raise awareness for MS, the least I could do was get up a bit early to give her a ride to the start.

I got home by 7:30, and took an hour plus power nap. I washed up to head over to my Singer orientation. Originally, I told Don that it was from 10-2. I honestly thought it was a 4 hour orientation. Turns out, it was just an hour. I headed home and contemplated staying out a tiny bit longer to indulge in a pedicure, but went home since my body was telling me it was time to feed the baby.

After she fed, I suggested we go out. We hit the road, and found ourselves in the Bishop Arts District at Oddfellows. I've been wanting to write a review on them for over a month since I first tried them with my girlfriend. I won't do that now, but I will share some photos that we took. Mmmm...beignets! Not as great as Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, but it would do!
They were PACKED! We very nearly didn't get a seat, but lucky for us, we were seated in the corner next to two very amazing and friendly women. One of them was kind enough to snap a family photo of us.

Then, we took a short walk over to Dude, Sweet Chocolate. You can read about my write-up on them from this post. I was happy that Don was with me this time around. Mari enjoyed the samples. We really enjoyed the Popeye & Olive popcorn. We also purchased a bottle of their Break-up Potion because we both agreed the bourbon was smooth and delicious. I'm not really sure how we'll enjoy it, but 'eh, I'm sure we'll come up with something.

We slowly walked back to the car and headed further south to visit with friends and our Great Aunt. Then, just as the storms rolled in, we headed back home. On our way, we received a call from my sister. They were evacuating them from their camp site of the race because of the poor storms. We made a quick pit stop at home to feed the baby and gather some supplies like fresh diapers. We then headed to my sister's place to drop off her car. When we got there, we were greeted by some delicious spaghetti that she'd made for us! She'd biked 79 miles that day and managed to make us a very special dinner. We sat around her television watching Big Bang Theory that she had recorded and eating our dinner. It was fabulous!

As we drove home, I held Don's hand and was ever so grateful for all of the blessings I've been given. Thank you, Lord!
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