Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ruffled Camera Strap

I've had my eye on these cute DIY camera straps for awhile now! I'm so excited to finally have one done. I was a little nervous with the ruffle, as I've never made one before. I'm not much of a seamstress - I have a sewing machine and I know how to do the basics. I was pretty sure I'd have to complete one strap to realize how to really make one. So I started with some extra fabric from another project. As I started working with the print, it became too much for my eyes! I'm honestly just a simple girl, who loves simple things. Who would have thought I'd end up with my first strap a success - and of two solid colors! However, I can't stop with just one. So, I should have a new one with my original fabric scheme made soon. Who doesn't love variety?!

I started off with THIS tutorial from Crap I've Made. Love this site, love this tutorial! This is where I learned to do the ruffle, and piece mine together.

An old camera strap, for the hardware AND/OR upholstery-grade vinyl and 2 3/4" dog collars
Heavy fusible interfacing, the same length and twice the width of your strap
Fabric the same length and twice the width plus 1” of your strap
A longer strip of fabric for your ruffle

I decided to change the length of mine to 30", because I always wear my strap like a messenger bag - the added length would be nice for me personally.

I also used THIS tutorial from I Kat Bag to make my own vinyl covers for the ends. I wasn't about to tear my original Canon strap apart, and I had no interest in searching for an old strap. Perfect tutorial! Also, for the nylon straps that connect to the camera, I love that she used dog collars! What an easy find from Walmart or Target!

I prefer the buckles from my original Canon strap, so I just removed those and added them to my new ruffled strap.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mojito-maddness - Mojitos and Mojito Cupcakes (And 1 of 10 #21)

While discussing my 29 things to do before 30 list with my sister-in-law, she jumped in on number #21 - Make 10 new alcoholic drinks. She was totally interested in helping with this one. Perhaps it's due to her being 7 years She's still in the "partying" stage of life, however...she might very well be one of the most mature 22 year old's I've known.

Now, I'm from Texas...and I'm a beer kinda girl. Bud Light to be exact. In my younger mind, drinking a mixed drink was for sissy's. I may be a short 5' 1 100lb girl, but I tend to think like I'm a 6 ft, 200lb guy. - Crazy Texas girl.

My sister-in-law Kristen, first suggested a Mojito. I decided to go with her first suggestion because 1. it uses fresh herbs, 2. it looks pretty. It also sounded like a great drink to go with this new dinner recipe. Which btw, it did! 

After dinner, and during a little blog searching, I came across this Mojito Cupcake recipe from Cream Puffs in Venice. As I told Kristen about my find, it was within minutes we realized we had all the ingredients on hand, and decided to make cupcakes! Unfortunately, I don't really recommend the above recipe. It was good, but we altered the cake recipe, as well as the frosting. It was very lime style, little mint flavor before alterations. We'll need to make the recipe with alterations again to perfect it. Until then, here's a photo of our final product.

Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta

The other day my sister-in-law told me about this amazing website she loves to get recipes from. Within minutes, I had The Pioneer Woman in Google, and her website in front of me. I was amazed at all the of recipes she has -it was tough to choose one to start with. But, this one stood out for me to try first.

I can see where next time I may add more of the pasta water to bring the cheese together for more of a melt, but...none-the-less, it was amazing! My sister-in-law, the kids and I were starving so there was no time for sauce perfection.

Monday, September 13, 2010


September 2 - First day of school

  It's been a week since Cass started school, and Friday we received our first note home from the teacher. It reads, "Cassandra had a good week. She has been busy making her friends laugh! She seems to be adjusting well to our full day of kindergarten!" Fabulous. Really? I mean, isn't that what every mother what's to hear - polite words saying, "your kid's the CLASS CLOWN!" Jeez.

Hope the Mr. enjoyed his email updating him on our daughter's first week in school, and her "status".

Paper Mama Photo Challenge: Brown

Here's to trying new things....a photo challenge! I love this photo of Kaleb taken about 2 weeks ago.  It was one of the last few warmer days out enjoying some fresh air. He was excited to see sissy and her friend running all around the yard, and going down the slide.

To see more entry's click on the button... she has an amazing blog!

The Paper Mama

Friday, September 10, 2010

SoyNut Butter Frosting -Peanut Free for Allergies

When I discovered my son had a peanut allergy last month, I was horrified! I just kept thinking about all the foods my family and I eat which contain nuts!

Since then, I've been reading ingredients like a mad woman. I'm quickly learning what foods are off limits, and what foods are to be eaten during his nap time, and very carefully! I was mostly concerned about peanut butter. It's a staple in our house! It's the item in which my son was taken to the ER after a serious reaction.

Peanut butter is no longer welcome in our house, as we've moved onto SoyNut Butter by I.M. Healthy to protect our son, Kaleb. I'm quite impressed with it to be honest. I highly recommend it for any and all families with children under 3.

For his 1st birthday, I planned a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting! It was quickly tossed out the window, until I found our SoyNut substitute. I took a simple peanut butter frosting I had and just substituted the SoyNut butter. Guests at the party were quite impressed with it's "taste just like peanut butter" comments. Some didn't even know it's wasn't peanut butter!

*This photo from the party was taken by a good friend. She did an amazing job!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mod Monkey Birthday Party - He's ONE!

It's hard to imagine my little man is ONE. He's quite the little monkey getting into just about everything, so it didn't take much to finalize a monkey themed party. Over the summer I received a 1st Wishes catalog in the mail. As I was flipping through it, I came across a Mod Monkey birthday theme - fell in love instantly! I thought the turquoise and yellow looked stunning together. As August was approaching, I quickly discovered my time disappearing! Getting my husband ready for deployment, visiting family, and enjoying what summer we had left together. Seeing so much on my plate, I was completely amazed when my friend Amber, over at Photography by Amber offered to work on his invitation for me! You can usually find us chatting on Yahoo Messenger together, passing photos back and forth, discussing projects and such. So within a short while, over popped this STUNNING monkey themed invitation in the perfect coordinating colors!

It was now time to plan a monkey party!

As I did a little internet research, I came across some amazing monkey theme party ideas. This blog is where my ideas stemmed from - Hostess with the Mostess. She has an amazing post for a Mod Monkey baby shower!

I was totally sold on the idea of using simple frames for table decor! I found these chunky wood $1 frames at Michael's. Perfect for the occasion. I painted each one, front to back. With my computer on the fritz, Amber worked on the graphics. Between the two of us - the frames were a complete success! The frames are in his room as decoration now.

The next big plan was the banner! What's a party without a happy birthday banner?! I can't say exactly where I found the idea for the banner - you can find them all over blog-land, but what a fabulous idea! I'm all for making things myself. I used my Cricut machine to cut out the circles, as well as the letters and monkey's. -I used Mini Monograms for the letters, circles and squares. New Arrival for the monkey's. The circles are in two layers, the bottom layer is a 4inch circle, and the top is a 3.5inch. I added the googly eyes to the monkey's to give them that added touch of "cuteness". I'm quite impressed with my first attempt of the banner!

The favors were simple, but in perfect monkey theme. My daughter had fun picking everything out. I needed to plan for kids of different age groups, so it deemed pretty difficult at first. I was at the point of giving up and tossing a couple bucks in a bag - ok! not really, but you can see my frustration. Then, I was at Joann's one evening picking up a new craft project for my daughter, when we just happen to spot some monkey stuff! With a purse, and small child in one arm, I loaded up the other with all the monkey supplies! The store closed in 10 minutes, so we were in a hurry. Thankfully Cass was there to help, and spot the goodies.

We decided to go with 3 items per favor. Each favor had a $1 wooden monkey cutout from Joann's, along with a .25 pack of crayons (thanks to Walmart during their back-to-school supplies). - I wanted to go with markers, but Cass wanted crayons for more color options. Plus, with the smaller children, crayons might be a bit easier in the clean up department. For the 3rd item, we went with a $1 monkey yo-yo from Joann's for the boys, and a wood beads monkey necklace kit, also from Joann's for the girls! I already had the paper lunch sacks on hand. The monkey decoration matched the banner, and was cut from the New Arrival Cricut cartridge.

Here you can see these amazing little wooden craft projects made great decor as well! Another $1 Joann craft project. I used markers to color them. I love to color! Here I have a girl, with a cute bow in her hair, as well as a boy monkey hanging from a tree - perfect for my son!

Balloons because EVERY party needs balloons, and what monkey themed party doesn't have barrels of monkeys! - Scored a deal on those...Walmart decided to clearance them to $3 one afternoon.

Mid August, I found out my son had a peanut allergy! Quickly, I realized that put a HUGE damper on my party planning in the food department! Are you aware how many foods have nuts, are contaminated by nuts or processed in a facility with nuts? Well, I didn't....until recently! I decided it was best to make his cake myself. This way, I would be certain what he was eating. A 1st birthday party isn't the time to be experimenting leaving possible reactions.

I made a simple 6 inch white cake for him, for the rest of us - cupcakes! I so badly wanted a chocolate cupcake with a peanut butter frosting - I've been drooling over this idea for months! So, you can see where the peanut allergy stepped all over my grand plan! No worries though, I learned about a product called SunButter from my son's allergist appointment, however...I didn't have time to order online. I called many local locations listed on their website, but no such luck. No one seemed to really know much about the product. I mentioned my frustration on Facebook, then before I knew it a friend took off in search of the product for me. Again, no such luck. My Mom, who lives in Texas just happen to be shopping at Target when she spotted a jaw of I.M. Healthy soy nut butter. She so kindly dropped one in the mail to me, which arrived just days before the party!

So here we have a half chocolate, half colored white cake, with I.M. Healthy SoyNut butter frosting - recipe found here. Now, I know what your thinking....SoyNut butter - no thank you! But, I'm beyond impressed with this stuff. My guests even commented about how it tastes just like peanut butter! Really impressive stuff! I've got to hand it to I.M. Healthy! I can't imagine ever going back to a peanut butter. The reason for the half and half cupcake is I wanted a bit more color than brown and tan. I had so much fun back in April making these pancakes for my daughter. I couldn't resist another attempt at coloring food. Perhaps they are not the most lovely looking cupcakes - I never claimed to be a baker, but for an amateur - not too shabby!

#1 shaped brownies! These were a hit. Fun to eat, and fun to make. What's a 1st birthday without some food shaped as a #1.

The birthday boy amazed at the balloons. I'm totally IN LOVE with his shirt! Again, another idea found in blog-land which I can't exactly pin-point where the idea came from. I battled with finding the right size shirt, preferably one of color. White seems boring to me, personally. I found these great little pocket tee-shirts at Target for $5. Then, I stumbled on this fabric one day when I was heading to the baby section of Walmart. It just-so-happen to be sticking out as if someone was thinking about it....but instead of pushing it back, they just left it sticking half way out - Thank you lazy Walmart shopper! I purchased some Curious George fabric and was on my way. I'm no seamstress what-so-ever! I know how to sew, but more so just the basics. Which really, is all you need for a project such as this. I believe it look me 3 attempts, because I wanted my sewing line to be as straight as possible - that's the perfectionist in me. I printed the matching #1 from his invitation, cut it out, and traced it to the back side of the fabric.

Cake! The most exciting part of the birthday party. I wasn't too suprised when I realized he DID NOT like his cake. He's one of those kids that doesn't care to have sticky fingers. Sadly, he cried after touching all the icing... His, "Help! Mom...I'm sticky" pose.

Heart-broken, I decided we would have a cake take 2 the next day. SUCCESS.

*Most of the photos from the party were taken by a good friend who did an amazing job! Thanks so much.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Date Night (And 1 of 8 #11)

#11 on the list in progress...

Date night #1 of 8.

The Mr. took me to a new restaurant in town, the Fujiyama Japanese Steak House. It was a fabulous dinner, and nice to spend a little quality time together before the upcoming deployment. If your in the area, I recommend the Steak House. Our chef Dominic was great!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mom, can you pour the milk?

This morning Cassandra decided to have a bowl of cereal for breakfast. Now, I'm sure your thinking that looks like a large bowl with A LOT of cereal inside. Why does this mother allow her child to have so much? Well, the answer to that is, "I don't!". However, I was asked to come pour the milk on a pre-made bowl of cereal because the jug was too full. As I got to the counter I saw such a heaping bowl, confused as to why 1. my child would use that bowl. (we have small ones we always use), 2. the amount in the bowl.

So, I ask. "Why is there so much cereal in your bowl?"

"Because I want to eat the Toy Story cereal in the pantry."

-Note: The other day Papa said she couldn't open a new box of cereal until she finished what she had left. This is basically what she has left.-

"Whaaaat? *laughing* So your going to eat ALL of this?"

"Yes! *sneaky grin*

"No, your not! I'm going to take a photo for your Papa, then I'm going to put most back into the container."

"Ok, Mom"

Living with a clever child is quite humorous - she always keeps me laughing and on my toes!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Uncle Charlie's Pico De Gallo

A recipe you will LOvE! Trust me. Once you try it, I must hear all about how fabulous it is!

Years ago my husband Charlie and I were visiting his family in Spokane, Washington. His uncle Charlie was raving about this amazing pico de gallo recipe he had. He had me at pico, it's a LOvE of mine!

I was completely baffled and confused when I was handed a chip with this slaw looking mess on top - if my nose didn't crinkle visibly, I sure was cringing on the inside! I have "personal issues in my head" about food. If it doesn't look or smell amazing, my brain jumps immediatly with "Ewww, No!" "Gross!". Over the years I'm beginning to overcome this - thanks to a push shove from the Mr. Well, it was one bite which sold me. I was completely in love with the mix of flavors and textures!

So here I am to share this recipe with you. But, before you crinkle your nose and Ewww me - you've got to give it a shot! As we were told by the "real Charlie", it's amazing on hamburgers and hot dogs. No joking - Hello, FABULOUS!

-Uncle Charlie's Pico De Gallo recipe.

Cream of Mushroom Pork Chops

Grandma Jenkins always makes the best pork chops, but I'm working on getting mine flavored fabulously! This was a dish from last week, and I was quite pleased to get an amazing comment from the Mr. "I would pay money in a restaurant for this!" cool! Even my 5 year old LOVED it.

-Pork Chops in Cream of Mushroom.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pico de Gallo

This is the pico de Gallo I use to top my Healthified Crispy-Coated Chicken dish, as well as munch on with chips! Simple pico de gallo never lasts long in this house...

-Pico de Gallo recipe.

Italian Pasta Salad

It's simple and easy, and works with ANY summer dish! I could just sit and snack on pasta salad all day if you let me...

-Italian Pasta Salad recipe.

Healthified Crispy-Coated Chicken

Tonight's dinner was fabulous - again! When I first saw this dish, I fell in love and had to make it right away. The photo presentation alone had me sold. This is the second time I've made it, and it was awesome. I think the first time I made it with oven fries, and some other vegetable. Tonight, I made a side of Italian pasta salad -yum! (See Pico de Gallo post for topping recipe)

Now doesn't this just look amazing?

-Healthified Crispy-Coated Chicken recipe.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Conversations with Cass

"Mom, *pulling up a chair to the desk* Can we look up jobs?"


"I need to find a job for when I grow up."

"Ok. It's too soon to look for a job for when you grow up. But what kind of job are you looking for?"

"I'm going to ... you know, be someone who makes cakes! Like, you know the man Buddy from Cake Boss."

"Whaaaat! You are??"

"Yes." *big smile*

If you don't know already, Cass and I love watching Cake Boss! Note #3 on my "29 things to do before I turn 30" blog is make a fondant cake - inspired by watching too many episodes of Cake Boss. Last night was the 3rd season premiere - great episode!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Road Trip to Spokane (And #27)

Crossing number 27 off the list.

Thursday we headed out to Colville, just north of Spokane Washington. We planned a visit with some of the Mr.'s side of the family. It's been almost 2 years since our last visit! The weather forecast said rain all weekend, but it still turned out to be a beautiful! Here's the quick weekend re-cap!

We started out on Hwy 2, the scenic route across Washington!

Hwy 2 - heading to Colville

Beautiful rainbow - Hwy 2

An hour and a half into the trip, Cass begun asking the dreaded road trip question - "are we there yet?". We made a stop at this last photo to get out and stretch our legs, and Cass wanted to snap some shots of the rainbow too. It wasn't a very long stop as it was pretty cold! 

Charlie mowing the grass at Grandma's.

The kids and I headed out to enjoy the freshly cut grass and sunshine! As we headed inside, we found Mr. Puppy hanging on the clothes line! At first she thought it was Papa who put him up there, but later found out it was Grandma! haha.

Kaleb and the stubborn, I will dress myself MY way child -Cass!
Mr. Puppy!

A Japanese tag
We then spent much of the late afternoon going through photos and learning about Uncle Charlie's family history. This was much fun, as I love old photos and history!

Cass singing at Karoke night

We enjoyed a Saturday night filled with Karoke in town with family! It was exciting to see Cass get up there and sing a song she learned from preschool in front of everyone - what a brave girl! Kaleb enjoyed "singing" too with everyone! (see video clip above) Kaleb also enjoyed lots of walking around with Aunt Jan - this boy is going to be running in no time!

Aunt Jan walking with Kaleb
Stylish Cass in goggles - ready for a ride!

Charlie and Cass enjoyed a bit of 4-wheeling fun on Uncle Charlie's 4-wheeler this weekend too!

Ruth meeting Kaleb
We then polished off the weekend at lunch with an old friend.

I-90 heading home. Looking back at a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Breathe...Breathe...Just Breathe...

All you can do is thinking, just's the only way I made it through the first part of my day!

I was up late chatting with the Mr. (who's in Pearl Harbor), and I still managed to get up on time this morning. Fixed a bottle for Kaleb, helped Cass get some breakfast, then off to shower! Just as I was about to dry my hair, I realized the plug wasn't working - a sinking uh-oh feeling over came me. This has happened before, so I pretty much knew what to do. The outdoor garage freezer, and the 3 bathrooms are on the same breaker. If too many things are plugged in, the breaker trips. Easy fix, you just reset it. So, back to my morning....

By this time I have my hair pined up, make up on, dressed in my shirt and jeans - no socks. I open the garage door to go reset the breaker, and I find the freezer door wide open. Instantly you hear, "CASSANDRA ISABEL, Garage now!". I'm completely raging with anger, and checking to see just how thawed the food is. In complete disgust, I close the freezer door - nothing survived! By now she's standing at the door, a few feet from me, saying over and over, "I'm sorry Mommy." Just as I'm about to take a step towards the door, I look down and there sits a small gray mouse - within inches of my feet! All you hear by now is screeching, screaming and me leaping to the top of the freezer! (No joking here, I was literally on top of the freezer.) I'm in full on panic mode, so overwhelmed I'm crying... Sitting on top of the freezer, trying to breathe and screaming to my daughter to get into the house, there's a mouse! There stands my daughter laughing...laughing hysterically at her Mother saying, "it's just a mouse, it isn't going to hurt you". Really? It's a mouse! I almost stepped on a mouse!! Throughout this entire ordeal the mouse hasn't moved (I think he was sick). It doesn't matter though, there's a mouse between me and the door and the only thing to do is leap, and close the door. All I needed was a safe place to sit and calm down...

There was no more venturing into the garage to reset the tripped breaker. No time, no patience, no strength...I was too overwhelmed. I headed back upstairs to find a new place to dry my hair, the hallway!

By now, thanks to the mouse...I'm running late, but still in good time. I decided to take the truck today since it has GPS, and I always find myself lost. After the day/week I've had, I wasn't interested in getting lost. I haven't driven, or even moved the Tahoe since Charlie left, so who knew I was going to hop inside and find the battery dead! I've jumped my car before, but I was pretty nervous about the truck since I'm not familiar with it, and it's so tall too! I heard the neighbor boys outside, so I darted next door asking our neighbor Bill if he would come help me out. Thankfully, I live next door to the kindest neighbors!! He helped me get it started, and while he was over...I couldn't help but ask him how he felt about mice. My angle worked out perfectly, and in no time he grabbed a rag and picked up the mouse (which still hadn't moved). I can't even express how amazing this made me feel...the relief to come home to a garage without a dead/sick mouse!
What on earth is with guys who have no fear of rodents?? He just picked it up in a rag, Ewwww! Then he asked if I wanted to see it?! Double Ewwww. I'm going to already have nightmares from nearly stepping on one, you think I want to look at it?? Oh no thank you! But thanks for removing him, he's all yours!

Note to self: Wear shoes boots when entering the garage!

Finally, we are in the truck and on our way! The sun is shining, a bit on the warm side... Cass looking out the window, "look Mom, the cows". Driving, kids are quite...all is well. A frapp sounds good about now, but no time...I'm officially running late! Then......crap! It pops in my head, I didn't pack a bottle. I'm do you forget to pack the bottle? Seriously, all things packed, but the bottle! Ugh......time to turn around.

I arrived 1 hour and 35 minutes late, starving and thirsty! Just as I pulled into the driveway, the garage opens and out comes Grandma. Puzzled as to what on earth happened, and why I was so late. It was a quick, are you? Where do you want to eat?? We were all starving - except Kaleb. He was doing pretty good.
She introduced me to this amazing little restaurant in Tacoma, called Tijuana Taco. If you love Mexican food, I highly recommend this place! I don't eat out much, and it's a good thing this place is an hour away. If not, I would visit all too often.  

Considering my crazy morning, I'm not surprised I forgot the camera! I also don't know why my damn Blackberry takes such crappy photos too! I've seen cheaper phones take much better photos...bummer! But, here's us today. Excuse the poor quality camera phone photos...

First Mother's Day with my little man!
Sixth Mother's Day with my beautiful daughter!
serious little man who needs a haircut.
I'm so proud of Kaleb! He mastered crawling up that step in the background of the photo above.

Ok! Now before I end this incredibly long blog, what would a visit to Tacoma be without donuts from Krispy Kreme?! Due to extreme bumper to bumper traffic, we had no other choice than to stop for a 1/2 dozen! Yummm. Now this is how you end and interesting, yet wonderful Mother's Day with my sweet kiddos and Grandma Jenkins! I hope you all had a fabulous day.

Donuts from Krispy Kreme! 

-chocolate iced w/ sprinkles, chocolate fudge cake, s'mores, glazed raspberry filled, glazed chocolate cake x2-