Friday, July 29, 2011

When Is The Right Time???

When is it the right time after losing your best friend to add another member to your family?  This is what our family is facing right now.  Sorry for those of you that might not know what I'm talking about.  We had to say goodbye to our dog Roscoe a little over a month ago.

I feel like I have a hole in my heart that only a four legged furry friend can fill.  Have you experienced this before?  I really didn't envision getting a dog so soon after Roscoe's death, but I think she would understand?  Our family feels incomplete without a dog member.  I think it's a testament of how much she was loved.

I've been to shelters to look into adopting and we went to look at a Westie puppy last week in a home.  We ended up walking away without the puppy.  Something just wasn't quite right and I couldn't put my finger on it?
My kids were VERY disappointed to say the least, but I think I'll know when the right dog comes along.  I need to go with my gut.

Monday I'm driving about five hours away to see this girl.  She is a one and a half year old Sealyham Terrier.  Never heard of a Sealyham?  Me neither, till I met one at the park where my girls play soccer.  I've been researching the breed (and many more terriers) and I think a Sealy would make the perfect addition to our family.  They are referred to as the "couch potato of terriers," very loving, smart, little to no health problems, not barky, and non-shedding.  Every Sealy owner I've talked to has told my once you own a Sealy you will never have another kind of dog.  The woman I met in the park has had three of them.     

Roscoe can never be replaced in our hearts, but I think there is enough room in there to add some more love.

Wish me luck!
I would love to hear your stories (and see your picture) about how you found or lost your beloved pet.  Words of wisdom from you pet lovers out there are greatly appreciated.

Thanks for Checking It Out.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Favorite Flip Flops

Flip flops are part of the Southern California uniform.  We wear them year round here. 
I play volleyball at the beach in January and still wear my flip flops to and from the beach.   
OK, when it gets cold I do switch to my Uggs.
This is the court I play doubles at a 2-3 times a week.

My favorite flip flops are Havaianas. 
They are a little pricier than most flip flops, but worth it my opinion.  They originated in 1962 form Brazil using a secret rubber formula. I love them because they come in a SLIM sizes as well as regular widths.   I have a size 10 shoe, but my feet are narrow.
Most flip flops and strappy shoes are too wide for me. 
Costco carried Havaianas this year for $18.99 with a crystal on them, but I can't find them on their website?   I'm kicking myself that I only bought one pair. 

You can pick up flip flops for a couple bucks these days, but I LIVE in mine so I justify the higher price.  Havaianas' rubber is very soft and comfy. 
They last a long time and I never get blisters from them.

  This pair is $148 because it has Swarovski Crystals on them.   These are out of my budget and even if they were in my budget, not sure I would spend that much on flip flops especially because I'm going to get them sandy.  

You don't have to pay that much for them.
Nordstroms $38

Nordstroms $24
I found some last year at Loehmann's for $12 and I bought 3 pairs. 
The problem is my daughters keep stealing them. 
We all have the same size feet.

What's your favorite summer foot wear?

Thanks for checking it out.

Monday, July 25, 2011

First Day of School

The beginning of our new school year started last week.  Casey is off to High School as a freshman and Cami gets to to be the big cheese on campus as a 6th grader.  6th grade is still part of elementary school where we live.  As a former 7th and 8th grade middle school teacher, I'm happy 8th grade boys have no contact with my 6th grade daughter.  If you have middle school age boys, sorry, I'm sure yours are nice and well mannered, all of them aren't.  I spent thirteen years teaching them.  

It was really early in the morning for my sleeping beauties and they weren't thrilled about mom taking pictures.  Casey is putting on her "happy" face to appease her crazy picture taking mother.

That is my husband and their dad with his head edited out of the picture.  His job requires that he remain anonymous.  If you have been following my blog for very long you might have noticed his face is never in any of the family pictures.  He puts bad people in jail and the bad people and their families aren't real happy about it.  As a result I have to cut him out of the pictures.

Our great friends the Mendler's son Ben will be a senior at the school Casey is going to.  Ben offered to drive her to school with Casey's best friends Maddie (Ben's sister in the front seat) and Vicky in the back seat with Casey.  All the girls will be freshman together.  They are the nicest kids all from great families.  Casey is lucky to have such great friends. 

My little Cami is catching up to me.  She's grown about five inches this year.

Here she is with some of her classmates.  They are in a Spanish immersion class and have been together since kindergarten!  They have all changed and grown so much.

  It's kind of a bummer to start school in July but we get a nice break at the end of September, beginning of October.

Hope you are enjoying your summer!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Water Garden

We built a waterfall and a pond in our backyard ten years ago and it continues to delight us. 

We had a pond in our old house and I brought this water lilly with us when we moved here.

I re-pot it every couple of years and it continues to give us beautiful flowers.  I have shared pieces of it with friends and family and now it grows in their ponds too. 

Our fish are "rescues" from pet shops selling them as feeder fish and from the Del Mar Fair. We call our pond "Fishtopia" because they seem very happy.  They have reproduced many times and now we have many generations from our first fish.  We even have tadpoles.  Can you see the baby tadpoles?  They are very small and black.

We do throw some fish food in there.

It's impossible for me to sit next to our pond and feel anything but relaxed.  Listening to the trickling water and watching our fish glide smoothly by always makes me breath a little deeper.

The Water Hyacinth is blooming right now.

It floats along the top of the pond and keeps the water shaded from the hot sun. 
The fish are happy.

Here's what it looks like when it's not blooming.  The pond is very easy to maintain.  Mother nature does most of the work.  The plants create shade on the pond which keeps the algae growth down.  The plants also create oxygen, hiding places, and food for the fish.  The fish provide fertilizer for the plants.  We have a pump that recirculates the water and has a filter on it.  This keeps the water clear.  We have another pump that runs the waterfall.  We only use the waterfall pump for a few hours a day. 

Here's the proud papa or mama?  How do tell a boy frog from a girl?

Do you have a pond or water garden? 
I would love to see it.

Breath deeper, smile more, stop and sniff the flowers.

Thanks for checking it out. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chicken Sorrentino- My Gluten Free Version

Casey was watching the Cake Boss cook Chicken Sorrentino on the food network and decided she wanted to make it. She called her friend Maddie who also loves to cook and enlisted the help of Cami to make this recipe.  I bought all the ingredients and they got to work.  Here is the original recipe for  Chicken Sorrentino.

Together they can make anything in the kitchen. 
I decided to come up with a gluten free version of the original Cake Boss recipe and it turned out awesome.  We all helped out.
It was fun!

You start by marinating the chicken. 
We have found the recipe is much better if you pound the chicken to about a quarter of an inch thick before marinating.  It's much easier to serve, it's easier to layer evenly, it's more tender, and it's easier to eat if you pound it first.

It's not pounded in this picture.  This was our first attempt at this recipe. 
 It's so good we've made it three times now.

We are growing eggplant, but ours aren't ready yet so we had to buy one.

You'll need some of this too.

The recipe calls for making your own bread crumbs, but the girls used pre-made ones from the store.

The Changes I Made To This Recipe Are As Follows:

Whether you are making the original version or the gluten free version (GFV) you need to pound the chicken to a quarter inch thickness.  The girls used pre-made bread crumbs.

To Make It Gluten Free.

* I replaced the pasta with fresh spinach.
* I eliminated the flour completely.
* I replaced the bread crumbs with Almond Flour.

Here the girls are battering the eggplant slices in flour, egg, and bread crumbs.  Everyone washed there hands with soap before starting, just in case you were wondering? 

For the gluten free version I dipped the eggplant in egg and battered them in seasoned Almond Flour.
I added the garlic and the seasoning the bread crumbs called for into the Almond Flour.

Here the girls are starting the layering of the Chicken Sorrentino
The recipe calls for a bottom layer of pasta.

Add the sauce and cheese.

I switched out the pasta for spinach to make the GFV.
The second time I made this I tried it with gluten free rice pasta for this layer, but I like the spinach better.

Next the girls layered the chicken, prosciutto, eggplants, sauce, and cheese.

For the GFV I layered the chicken, prosciutto, eggplant, sauce, and cheese.  This picture shows the un pounded chicken.  The next two times I've made this I pounded it.

Don't add too much sauce at this point in the GFV.  The spinach "sweats" and there isn't any pasta to absorb the extra moisture.  I serve it with extra sauce after baking.


Original Recipe.

mmm good.
Serve with extra sauce on the side.

My husband eats gluten and he likes this GFV better.  Don't think he's just telling me what I want to hear.  He's from New York and he ALWAYS tells me exactly what he thinks.  No sugar coating it in our house.

The girls said the original recipe is delicious too.
Do you cook with your kids?  I would love to hear your stories.  Do you eat gluten free?  I would love to hear about your favorite recipes.

Thanks For Checking It Out.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cami's Room Reveal

Here is Cami's room reveal.

I'm still working on a few things, but summer has put a hold on those projects for now.
Here is the (almost) finished room.

 The before
Cami wanted a more grown up room.  She's going into sixth grade.

In this picture you can see the plastic Ikea chair that was pink when I bought it, then I painted blue like it is here.  You will see it in later pictures painted white.  I just primed it with plastic primer and painted it with regular white spray paint. It holds up great.   

Her old room was cluttered and not functional.

The in between
(Cami lived in our living room while I redid her room)
To see what the living room/office looks like now go here.
Doing things by yourself on a budget involves some sacrifice. She lived like this for three weeks. I painted the concrete floors in her room and they needed time to cure.

The After

Spray painted horses.

I would like to make a padded head board, but that will need to wait for a while.  The old bed is working out for now.

I made the chandelier from a light fixture I picked up at H4H and two metal hanging baskets from Lowe's.


This project was a labor of love.   My most important critic, Cami, loves her new room!  She's proud to show her friends her room and now spends hours in it drawing and reading. 
Can't think of a better seal of approval then that?

Now Casey is ready for me to re do her room.
More fun to follow.

To see how I did all the projects in Cami's room go here.

Thanks for Checking It Out.

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