Tuesday, December 30, 2008


My mom took all of us girls (and Michael) to Disneyland for Christmas. It was absolutely magical. I had not been for a few years so I was excited to begin with. What I didn't expect was how incredible it was to see the wonderment of this magical place through the eyes of a child. NK was so in awe of everything she saw. I know she is still a bit young, her excitement for Disneyland and the characters will grow as she does, but it was still a great experience. Unfortunately it rained for most of the morning. And it was COLD! It was manageable, but we so-calers don't do cold. We made it through, I felt bad that NK was chilled all day. Mommy lesson #763 always pack warm gear when the slightest chance of rain. We bought her a beanie- that lasted about 5 minutes. I also bought her a pair of "minnie mouse" crocs with warm fuzzies on the inside because she had soaked through her robeez.

Nellie was a trooper. She went on It's a Small World, Pirates, the Haunted Mansion, the Jungle Cruise, the Carousal, and had a blast in Toontown.

Oh How You've Been Neglected!

To say that I have neglected the blog is an understatment. To say that I have completely forgot about it is much more acurate. Since that last entry my life has been a whirlwind. Starting October 1, I began a new job as a kindergarten teacher. Having to start up a new class a few weeks into the school year was tough work. Being a first year teacher is tough to begin with! By mid-November I felt like my head was above water (just slightly!) and I had gotten into a groove. Besides all the happenings on the workfront, my little NK is growing into such a neat little person. She is 18 months old! She is just a little ball of energy who never stops. By the time she goes to bed mommy is exhausted. Between work and NK this mommy is very busy.

Right now I am enjoying my 2 week winter break. A much needed break! We have been having a great time. I am just loving being home with NK (and Shane is on vacation too!) and having nothing on my mind. Well that's not true, I have a million things on my mind, things I want to finish, to do with NK, and cleaning projects. I know, my mind never sleeps or stops. Over break I want to work on NK's baby album. I am so excited about it. I bought it here and love that someone else did all the hard work. I just have to put the pictures and some journaling in! I also need to finish making NK's food for her kitchen. Santa brought NK a kitchen and I thought it would be a neat idea to make all sorts of felt food for NK to "cook" with. I have also been wanting to start some montessori activities with NK. I love this blog here. This is an amazing woman dedicated to her daughter. She has great ideas on activities to do. And finally the cleaning projects: this is my mother in me, I swear! There is something about having time off and feeling the need to clean something. After Christmas we did a complete overhaul of NK's bedroom. It was time to transition into "little girl" room. We packed away many toys we plan to keep for the next baby and must have donated about four large trash bags of clothes and toys. She now has her darling little girl's room. We bought a table and chairs from Ikea and set them up on a rug in front of her kitchen. We made an art corner with the easel grandma and grandpa gave her for Christmas. I have a few more things I want to finish to make it complete. We also did and overhaul of our room and the kitchen and we would like to shampoo the carpets if we have time.

I will post some highlights of our holiday seperately. I have a tons of pictures to go through. I will leave you with this one:

NK: "That's mine, Bailey. Don't touch it, or else!"

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hi, my name is Tamara and. . .

I have a serious addiction. I can't help it. I've tried to stop, tried to cut back, but I just can't do it. I need serious help. What, you might ask is my poison? Well it's paper. Not just any paper, the beautiful glossy pages of the magazines flocking the checkout line. What do I do? How do I stop? On a grocery run the other day I just had to have these:

Yes, just had to have them. COULD. NOT. LIVE. WITHOUT. THEM. They were calling my name. They needed a good home. Probably here with all the other ones I couldn't leave the checkout line without:

I have so much reading to catch up on I should probably stop typing and start reading. Maybe that's the first of the twelve steps?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Seafood Chowder

Remember this?

Now it looks like this!

Here's what I did:

First, I sauteed some onions and celery in olive oil. After they had softened I added in the sausage. I cooked it a bit longer and seasoned with salt and pepper. Then, I added in some flour and let it cook a few minutes. I added clam juice and about 6 cups of water (I don't remember). I stirred until all the flour dissolved. Next, I added in the potatoes, corn, and seafood (shrimp, clams, and mussels). I let this cook about 15 minutes to thicken slightly. To finish it off, I added about a quart of heavy cream. I know! Totally not a healthy recipe. I simmered for about 15 minutes more. These leftovers made so much chowder. I took a ton to my parents, froze two large bags and kept a small amount out to enjoy now. So, does it taste good? It's pretty good. I will however, leave the chowder up to the fine people at Boudin. I love their clam chowder!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Au Revior Little Sis!

This is my beautiful little sister Tracey. She is leaving tomorrow to study abroad for the year in Paris. How exciting is this?! I am so happy for her and proud that she is so dedicated and determined. She is going to have such a fantastic time on this once in a lifetime journey. We will miss her until we see her at Christmas. I know she'll have lots of stories to tell.

So, to send her off in style we had a little soiree in her honor. It was her birthday as well so it called for twice the celebration. As many of you know, parties in our family are no small affair. With such a large family we always go all out. We had the usual Texas Caviar, Bruschetta, and Hummus appetizers. For the meal Tracey had requested a clambake, Barefoot Contessa's Hampton style clambake. This was not to far off for the seafood boils Shane and I do in our huge outdoor pot (it's really a turkey fryer). A clambake is different than a boil in that the seafood is steamed. A new experience for me but I think it turned out well. We used shrimp, clams, and mussels. Had it been a smaller affair we would have had the lobster too. Add in some potatoes and sausage and it was the start of a heavenly feast. Just look at this spread:

Tracey, we will miss you! Can't wait to see you at Christmas! Keep us posted on all your exciting happenings. NK will definitely miss her auntie. We will keep you posted on all her exciting news. Here's a picture to reminisce the last time we were in Paris. Have fun lil sis!

Oh! P.S. Stay tuned for a seafood chowder recipe with all the leftovers!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Party Foods

At NK's birthday there are two foods that stand out as my favorites and I have to share the recipes with you. The first is called Texas Caviar or sometimes Mississippi Caviar. It is similar to a salsa you eat with chips. The other was the delicious coconut cupcake recipe I used.
Texas/Mississippi Caviar

1 can black eyed peas

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

red onion, chopped (sometimes I use green onions)

4 tomatoes, chopped

3 avacodos, chopped

small bottle of italian dressing

This is really easy. I don't really measure. I keep adding until it tastes just right. There are many variations out there. Sometimes I add a can of corn or black beans. It is best to make this the night before, but leave out the avacodo, so the flavors can meld. Just add the avacado in before you serve.

The yummy coconut cupcakes came from Ina Garten's The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. You can also find the recipe here. I would type it out, but as I am new to the blogging world, I am not sure if that is legal. Anyway they were the favorite cupcake among the guests. The other two were red velvet and chocolate peanut butter. One of my fondest memories will be of NK stealing bites of the batter with her grandma. Only the birthday girl could get away with that.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Always Plan Ahead

Planning ahead is not just something I do for holidays and upcoming events, I try to do it in my daily life. No wait! I MUST do it in my daily life. One area I can plan ahead and make my life much easier is in the kitchen, more specifically dinner. I try to keep things as simple as possible during the week. When I have a day I can get ahead I like to make a meal that has large portions so I can freeze a second meal. It's like a two for one! Today I did just that! While NK was napping I made Lasagna Roll Ups, you can find the recipe here. I added ground turkey instead of prosciutto. We like a meat lasagna at our house. With one recipe I was able to get two meals.

One for tonight. Yum!

And one for another night down the road. This will make my life easier on a hectic night when there is no time to prepare dinner.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Perfect Day

This post contradicts everything I intend for this blog to be. But it also shows that sometimes, even the best days can't be planned. Today Shane woke up and said, "Let's go to the beach." It was still early enough to make it before it got too crowded. It is Labor Day weekend afterall. So, we were ready and out the door in 30 minutes. NK had so much fun. She absolutely loves the water. We literally spend our entire time down in the waves. Later Shane shared how amazing it was to see the pure joy and excitement in her eyes and know that we did something to create it (i.e. getting off our duffs and doing something). What better way to end the perfect day at the beach? Well, driving through In-n-Out on the way home. If you are not from SoCal then you have no idea what you're missing. A chocolate shake and a cheeseburger are the perfect treat. I absolutely love days like this.

What could possibly make this day any better? A trip to Target when NK wakes up from her nap? Wait! Am I in heaven? Here's hoping for many more days like this to come!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Party Favors

Party favors come in many different varieties. Some can be a simple memento of a festive occasion. Others can be as lavish as the gifts brought to the party. For NK's first birthday I decided to keep it simple. For one, she is a year old. She won't remember this party, it was more for us. Second, we are the first among our family and friends to have a child, therefore this party had a kid count of about 3 (NK included). My favor? A simple frog sugar cookie decorated with green royal icing and green sugar crystals. I wrapped them in cellophane bags and tied them off with a coordinating ribbon. I thought they were adorable and a nice yet simple way to commemorate the occasion.

While these little sweets were a hit at the party, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to make a cute "kid" favor. Instead of making sweets for NK to take to daycare, I sent bubbles. One for each of the kids. Attached to each bubble was a tag that read "This little bundle of joy is now our bubbly little girl." I photo shopped a picture onto the tag and tied it off with a cute ribbon. These were so cute and a great alternative to sugary sweets. They were such a hit I don't have any left to show. Sorry:(

Thursday, August 28, 2008

First Birthday

For my very first post I thought I would share with you the highlight of my summer, my daughter NK’s (as she will be named here) first birthday party. This party has been my biggest success thus far. I literally planned this party for months. I wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted to save a few pretty pennies along the way also. So, on with the party we go. NK’s birthday was June 22nd in the middle of our worst heat wave this summer. The party was outside, IT WAS HOT, but I think we managed. When I started planning I wanted to go with the color theme green, pink, and hot pink (picture a slice of watermelon). From there the party took on a “frog” theme accented with pink and hot pink. It all started with this:

A frog pool! I mean,come on! How could I pass up a frog pool. I thought it was a perfect gift for NK and it was a welcome addition to the party on such a hot day. From here the frog theme was born. We had frog invitations, a frog cake, frog shaped sugar cookies as favors, frog toys, frog everything.
For the food I had to keep it simple. We were feeding 45 people. Yikes! With the help of my mom and grandma we made pulled pork sandwiches, Italian sausages, coleslaw, baked beans, and watermelon. Amazingly, I was able to feed all these people for fewer than 200 dollars. We served iced tea, lemonade, and water. All were very refreshing on such a hot day. Dolores, an awesome woman my husband works with made NK a frog cake. For the guests I made cupcakes, 3 kinds of cupcakes, oh what was I thinking! Hubby and I baked cupcakes all day long the day before and then I frosted them the following morning. I was ready to say “Next year let’s order a cake!” but they were a HUGE hit.
So, to say my little NK made out is an understatement. There is definitely something to being the first daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, etc., etc. It was a beautiful day and we are extremely blessed.
There is just so much to highlight. Stay tuned for more exciting posts from froggyland:)