Friday, August 31, 2012

Happy Little Helper {slow cooker meals}

Don't you love a night off from cooking? I'm all for a dinner out but with a family of five it adds up quickly. What is the next best thing? In my opinion, it's the slow cooker. This week my crockpot has been working overtime. With the exception of Wednesday night, we have used the slow cooker every night. I have found some amazing recipes and want to share with all of you. Because I figure, if you are like me, then you are always looking for a good crockpot recipe.


Yum...spicy...goodness. Click the link for the recipe. Add black beans or diced tomatoes for a chunkier soup. I had the neighborhood gals over because all our husbands are away training for deployment. I made this white wine sangria as a special treat.


Let me just say, if you do not follow the Chef In Training blog, please stop. go to the website. bookmark it. or pin it. or RSS Feed it. This girl is all about home-cookin'. Love that! And her pictures are awesome. My husband came home (from training) Tuesday night so I wanted a filling meaty meal. It was soooo goood. If you only make one meal from this post, then let it be this one! 

This was the side:


Italian Beef Recipe (adapted from the Crockin' Girls Cookbook)

1 sirloin tip roast (size depends on the amount of people you serve)
1 package of Italian dressing seasoning
1 (12 ounce) can beer
1 jar pepperocinis

Place roast in the slow-cooker. Pour beer over roast and sprinkle with Italian dressing seasoning. Pour in pepperocini juice and add peppers as desired. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours. Remove beef from slow-cooker and let rest for 15 minutes. Shred beef and put back in liquid. Serve alone or on french bread with provolone cheese. I made panini style sandwiches which were a hit.

Who thought a slow-cooker could make such delicious meals? You can find all these recipes pinned on my Pinterest name is semperfifamily. I love followers. It makes me feel like I have purpose when surfing through a million blogs.

At Home Take 2
Have a great Labor Day Weekend everyone!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday...10

Welcome Home Hubby!
I couldn't get to the squadron fast enough to pick up the hubby yesterday.
Of course, I want him to know what he has been missing!

Tank- Ann Taylor Loft (ATL)
Shorts- ATL
Shoes- Target
Bracelet- ATL

Linking up with 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Candy Tree {DIY}

Yesterday I posted about a project I was making for my husband. He has finally made the decision to quit his tobacco habit. As of today, he will be tobacco free. He is also going to be arriving home after two weeks of training. I wanted to create something to encourage him to stick to being "clean" even if the cravings come back. This is how the idea of a candy tree came to be. 

 Candy Tree {Do It Yourself}

Supplies Needed:

11-12 inch styrofoam tree/cone
1 inch strip of brown paper bag
Elmer's glue
4-6 bags of hard candies (Lifesavers, Werther's, Creme Savers, etc), fuller trees require more bags
5 packs of gum
3 wooden skewers
Low temp hot glue gun

First, glue brown paper strips to the styrofoam cone with Elmer's glue. I used approximately 6 brown paper strips to cover the entire 12 inch cone. Trim paper to fit as cone narrows. It may not be necessary to cover the cone with brown paper if you are using a low temp hot glue gun. You must cover the styrofoam if you are using a high temp hot glue gun or the styrofoam will melt. Let dry for 15-20 minutes.

Next, glue the candies around the cone on the edge of the wrapping. A fuller look can be achieved by overlapping the candy wrappers both horizontally and vertically. Glue three of the packages of gum on the cone and continue to glue the candies on the cone. After you have filled the cone, glue extra candies to less full areas. Candies and gum can be hot glued to wooden skewers to create a little more dimension to the candy tree. Place wooden skewers in the top of the styrofoam cone to complete the project.

Do you think he will feel encouraged? 

I Heart Nap Time

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day of School

We made it through the summer. All the kiddos were delivered to their classrooms and have a big day  ahead of them. Didn't they look sharp on their first day? Yes, t-shirts and shorts on all three. I miss dressing up on the first day. Now everyone is super casual. Or maybe that is the way California rolls?

This is what 7th grade looks like.

This is what trouble looks like. Or 2nd and 4th grade.

I made lunches this morning. Well, ok, last night. 

I've spent some time pinning lunch ideas this summer. I do pack a lunch for my kids every day. Today is an Asian theme: rice rolls, seasoned snack mix, cheese, veggies, grapes, & juice (not shown). I hope it's enough food to fill their tummies.

Now what am I going to do with my day? I've got dinner in the crockpot, house picked up, and now I'm off to buy supplies for a project. My husband is kicking his tobacco habit and I've got a gift in mind. More updates on that later! 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gratitude Journal

Hello Blog Friends! I made it. I really really didn't know about sharing the gratitude journal this week. Sad but true, I'm not feeling very grateful today. Not that my life is particularly bad, it's just hoe hum. My husband has been away for two weeks and counting. He is due to arrive soon and then we have a couple weeks together before THE DAY. I'm in surprisingly good spirits about it. Nothing I can really do to change it. So I guess I should be grateful I've passed the mopey stage!

Just a little pic from a military party

I am also feeling beyond grateful for school starting tomorrow. It's been a long summer...working from home, taking care of the kids, husband gone most weeks and most hours when home. Can I just say I need a break? Because I do and I don't want to feel guilty about it.

It's an 8am launch tomorrow.
I am grateful for a lazy weekend. I committed to 'not committing' to anything this weekend. I knew there would be last minute prepping for school. All those missed school supplies from the first shopping go round in July when everything was on sale. Why do they do that again? And we definitely needed to slow it down. Plus I knew the kids wouldn't have clothes if I didn't stay home and wash them. Opps!

I am grateful on this lazy weekend we managed to stop at the bookstore and the library. My favorite places to spend time. I seriously can spend hours at either and it just makes me so happy.

I am grateful for Andrea's Made Simple & Sweet nomination for the Versatile Blogger Award. I'll be posting soon the details of the award. I'm sure many can relate to the questions I ask myself, "Is anybody reading?" or "Does my (daily life) story mean something to others?" Sure I write for me but I also write to connect with others. Andrea's nomination let me know people out there do relate to me and my life. I AM grateful for that.

As always thanks for stopping by and reading my Sunday posts. I hope you all have a great new week.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Last Week of Summer Vacation {in pictures}

Today I am joining the link up party at Life Rearranged to share this week's camera pics. Just a simple way to share what we have been up to during our last week of summer vacation. It's been a busy week! I think we are going to need to slow it down and recoup this weekend to be ready for school on Monday.

Last weekend was pretty low key. I took some time to sew. It's something I seldom do but found it very calming. I found a great tutorial for coffee cozies at Skip to My Lou which you can find here. This is my finished project. My friend Laura from Semper Fi Momma gave me the cute Halloween print so I wanted to make this for her! Plus she loves coffee. So its win-win.


Since the weather has been super hot we filled up all of our water balloons and had an impromptu water fight. What is it about kids and water fights?

We celebrated my middle child's birthday this week. Is there a better birthday breakfast than donuts?!?

Then there is Charlie. I always find pics of him on our phone. He is the most photographed member of our family. My daughter found a scarf from a stuffed animal and "it fit him perfectly" we had to take a picture.

And Charlie was sleeping like a baby in the rocking we had to take a picture. And you can see where this goes.

Our last big adventure this week was a visit to the Santa Ana Zoo. It's a small park but big enough to keep us occupied for a few hours.

This is a baby possum. And I understand that to a city kid this is an "exotic" animal but to this former Midwestern gal I'm thoroughly amused. Why is a possum in a zoo? Those things run ramped around the farms back home. Just sayin'.

And do I really need to point out that this is a domesticated animal? 
However, I was thoroughly impressed by the next little guy.

It's a hedgehog. A-dorable!

One last thing to share. It was so hot earlier this week. I'm pretty sure I was going to melt.

It's always funny to me how well my camera pics document my life. I think I use the camera function more than the phone most days. Can you relate? If so, you should link up with Life Rearranged with me!

life rearranged

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Little Starstruck

Yesterday was a big day for me. I'm still kind of reeling from it all. So, of course, I want to share with all of you! In keeping with new adventures and my inability to sit still, I joined a group of 25 military wives and headed to Hollywood, CA. We attended two tapings of the Dr. Phil show. I can honestly say, I haven't seen a show in four years. However, I do like Dr. Phil and think he is hilarious and smart. I thought witnessing a show taping would be a cool experience. And it was.

(I thought you all might need a visual since he is so indistinguishable.)

The highlight of my day was being the official seat swapper for the first episode. A role which landed me in the front row! Talk about surreal. At the end of the show, Dr. Phil walks down to the guest seated next to me and does his interview right there. He's like 18 inches in front of me, sitting so casually on the stage. I kid you not! I could have reached out and put my hand on his leg. But that would have been creepy. Once it clicks for me that this famous person is within arms reach I start feeling giddy. And I have this weird reaction that feels like I'm giggling-slash-hyperventilating. Not sure if it is how I looked or how I felt? I think I held it in? I think.

It was a fun day and a super cool experience! I had a great time and I just had to tell you about it!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Zac's Birthday

Happy Birthday Zac!

We are celebrating Zac's 9th birthday today.
This year my husband and I decided to do family birthdays. 
Which means no parties with a bunch of same aged kid
 hyped up on sugar and running wild. 

Instead, the birthday child gets to pick out what is served at all meals and how we celebrate his or her day. 
With this in mind, today is all about 
donuts, pizza, and video games. 
Hmm, if you know my child, this sounds like his perfect day. 
I realize most of you don't so I thought a Top 5 list of 
Things to Know about Zac would be appropriate:

#1 He is my quiet child. I like to call him self entertained. Z can sit and play with any toy for hours on end. Never makes a peep.

#2 He is a lovey dove bird. The boy is all about cuddling and holding hands. However, I did hear him tell his brother this morning "No birthday hugs--I'm nine now".

#3 He is a sponge for knowledge. Like his dad he can pick up information at first exposure and he retains it. I'm thinking engineer? (fingers crossed). 

#4 He is a jokester. This child loves to play pranks, tell jokes, and just plain get under my skin. He will be the kid who thinks it's funny to irritate me. Who am I kidding, he already thinks that is funny. 

Could have been a nice picture

#5 He used to be a little butterball. The kid doesn't have an ounce of fat on him now. But the first few years of life, he had the chubbiest cheeks and roundest tummy. Adorable!

Thank you for letting me share.
I'm such a sap when their birthdays come around.

Happy Birthday Zachy Pooh Pooh!
I hope it's a good one!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Gratitude Journal

"Each day comes bearing its own gifts.  Untie the ribbons."
--Ruth Ann Schabacker

This week I untied the ribbons. My husband is away for more training so I am managing the homefront. I am really working hard to keep busy and my spirits up. I'm happy to report I have been successful. This week has been about jumping outside my comfort zone. Sometimes, it's more about the leap of faith than the landing zone. Here is my gratitude journal this week.

#1  McDs Frappes are like heaven in a glass. Love love love them! We are talking serious sugar and caffeine buzz. And sometimes I need to be grateful for that.

#2 Little surprises. My husband texted me Saturday afternoon telling me he would be at his squadron for a couple hours. Wow...completely caught me off guard but I got the kids and grabbed some ice cream before stopping in to see him. I love surprises especially when they include a handsome Marine.

#3 Crafting. I am not a crafty person but I know the basics. This week I started sewing, it's something I do periodically. Which translates to once a year.  Typically my sewing lasts long enough to get stumped by a problem and the project goes in the box. I decided to work through whatever problems arise by creating my own fixes (good or bad). I admit I enjoyed my hobby time.

#4 Family support. I will admit my family relationships haven't always been perfect.  After years of being disappointed, I made the decision ask for what I wanted. Brilliant idea, isn't it? I am so thankful for those key people's willingness to put an effort into our relationship. Their support makes a huge difference.

#5 Air conditioning. I'm telling you as superficial as air conditioning sounds I cannot imagine making it through this heat wave without it. I've got high hopes for a cold front!

I want to share how grateful I am for the positive comments many have left regarding the gratitude journal. I am so happy to hear how you have been inspired to think more positively or take time to reflect on your own blessings. It does the heart good!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ice Cream Truck {summer bucket list}

Summer is winding down very quickly. No hard feelings from this girl. I'm more of a fall kind of gal. Sadly the summer bucket list has remained untouched for weeks. After working my last day, we can devote the last week of summer to checking off our list.

The kids excitedly reminded me of our need to check off Get Ice Cream from the Ice Cream Truck when the chime-y music started a mile away. All three came running from different directions, "Ice Cream Truck! Ice Cream Truck!" O-K, got it!

Our ice cream truck lady was incredibly sweet. Which totally makes sense, I mean she sells ice cream! I think she was a little curious of my need to document the purchase. Maybe next time I'll explain the whole blog thing. Oh by the way, there's a picture of you floating around on the web. Hope you don't mind?

It was a fun little break under the tree with our overpriced ice cream cones. 

The kids loved it but poor little Charlie didn't like being left out.

He tried to make an emotional appeal...

 Poor guy got nuthin'. 

Maybe next time buddy!

I hope everyone enjoys these last weeks of summer. I can't wait for cooler weather and kids in school. Are you looking forward to Fall? Or are you a fan of Summer?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gratitude Journal

"The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now." - Oprah

Another week has past and its time to put down in writing what I am grateful for. Thank you for all the positive comments regarding the gratitude journal. The journal is such an important tool for me to reflect on my day and mentally put things in order. As always this is my list of five things I am grateful.

#1... I am grateful for date nights. Husband and I got to spend a couple hours without kids on Friday night. We definitely had a nice evening and feeling refreshed. Check out Date Night: Coffee & Ceramics for the details.

#2...A family day on the ship. Husband is soon deploying and today we got to go on the ship. Kids loved to see how dad will live for the next several months. I have new found empathy for my husband. Living arrangements on the ship are not ideal, at all. Imagine sleeping in a coffin and you now know how my husband will be sleeping for the next several months. Poor guy!

#3... Dinner with friends. We have a dinner date with our friends once a month. It gives us a chance to try out new recipes and spend time together. Last night, our friends hosted and served an amazing clambake. Doesn't he look adorable propped up there?

#4 ... a hair appointment. What is it about getting your hair done that make you feel so good? My hair stylist knows magic. She can turn a hot mess into something acceptable in an hour with a paintbrush and tin foil. I love how smooth, shiny, and straight my hair is when someone else does it. Total pampering!

#5... the beach. My husband had Friday off and insisted we cool off at the beach. I would challenge anyone to be unhappy at the beach. It's one of those creations that makes it hard not to believe in God. And when you realize that how can you not be happy?

I would love to hear some of the things you feel grateful for. Please share in the comments section!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Date Night: Coffee & Ceramics

Hubby and I fit in a date night on Friday. Not wanting to be too far from home (the kids), we made sure to stay on base. Dates are few and far between for us so it doesn't take much to make us happy. Not having three children dominating our conversation and attention is really all that matters.

If our date had to have a theme it would be Coffee & Ceramics. Our first stop, iced coffees at the base coffee shop. Yum! Definitely my guilty pleasure. Next, conversation. How do you jump start a conversation with someone you know everything about? And doesn't focus on kids or work? Google "What If" questions and ask him "Questions to ask your boyfriend when your bored". Yikes, all I can say is those questions might get a gal stalker status. My advice for all single ladies...stick to the basics. Likes, dislikes, hopes, dreams, 5 year plan...all good questions. Do you love your ex-girlfriend? Not so much...

Last stop, base hobby shop to find something to paint. We decided on this little guy. He will be sitting on our kitchen counter collecting change for the next seven months. When hubby gets back we are spending the money on a date night. Yay! Seven months of saving should mean a really great date. Of course, in true Marine style the pig has to 'represent'. And what better way but with a USMC tattoo!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Preparing for Deployment

Deployment is fast approaching in our house. It’s the dreaded end to months of work-ups. I am finally at the “please leave now” stage. Ok…deep down…I really want him to stay but that is not an option.


According to the official emotional cycle of deployment, I am in the pre-deployment stage of Anticipation of Separation. I value the term; it justifies my ‘craziness’. Ready to emotionally detach and start coping with goodbye. 

This is soon to be me:

After four deployments, I hoped I would be able to recognize, prepare, and prevent these negative feelings. But I fall victim to the cycle every time. I get caught up like it’s the first time. I can stand myself for a week before I become proactive and get over it. After spending two hours at the library crying over the cart of deployment books for kids, I decided ‘we’ need a plan. A plan to maximize our family time and get through one more training exercise.

My plan of action:

1. Family activities. Three weeks left until school begins, and a final work up for my husband. I have a list of family-focused activities to make time go quickly.

2. Marine & Family classes. After my breakdown at the library I decided knowledge is power. I signed everyone up for age appropriate classes about deployment and military lifestyle.

3. Get crafty. I have a few kid-friendly projects we can make for dad. I want the kids to feel part of the preparations for this deployment. 

4. Create a family plan for the deployment. I am a list maker and planner. I need routines and milestones to note the passage of time. The kids and I have already decided on aweekly family night to mark each passing week in a positive way. Our night will be devoted to laughter, pizza, and a show with “America’s Funniest” in the title.

It may not be an extraordinary plan but it is giving me a little comfort for now. A little list to keep me moving forward when I really just want to bury my head in the ground.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday...08

Welcome back! 
It's Wednesday!
This is 
What I Wore
for a work luncheon.

Top- Old Navy
Pants- Gap
Bracelet- Ann Taylor Loft

Linking up at The Pleated Poppy.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Disney Cars Land {in pictures}

For those of you who love Disney, here are the pictures I promised from Cars Land.  I have to give Disney credit. If you could hope inside the Cars movie, it would look just like Cars Land. As you know from my Disneyland post, we didn't go on any rides but I took lots of pictures! Hopefully, the insider's view gives you more of an idea of what it's all about.

Just a little sneak peek for those of you not in the neighborhood.