Friday, May 31, 2013

Southwestern Taco Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing

Happy Friday!!! I don't know about you, but I am so ready for this weekend. Last week, my husband worked 80 hours. Yes, 80. I single parented it all week and by the end, I'm pretty sure that pure adrenaline, coffee, prayer and good, loud music pulled me through.

This weekend, we have some fun things going on. A wedding reception party for a dear friend that was recently married and a baby shower for a sweet couple, who are expecting their first baby. I'm  ready to really enjoy the weekend, excited that it's supposed to be sunny and happy that we have fun things on the calendar. Hooray for a real weekend!
****
So, a few days ago, when I posted that recipe for the Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies, I mentioned that I recently hopped back on the South Beach Diet--my post-baby fall back. This salad is South Beach friendly (if you're on phase 1, omit the corn) and it's one of my recent favorites.

The Cilantro-Lime Dressing is insanely good and the taco meat, black beans, corn and avocados, make this salad totally satisfying. 

Southwestern Taco Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing
Large head of romaine, chopped
15 oz. can black beans, drained
1 large orange bell pepper, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
15 oz can corn, drained
3 green onions, chopped
1 avocado, diced
1 pound hamburger, cooked with Taco Seasoning and drained

Creamy Cilantro-Lime Dressing 
1 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (about 1/2 lime)
1-2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
1/8 tsp. salt
Black Pepper to taste

Directions
Place all dressing ingredients in a blender and blend to combine. Next, place all salad ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.Toss with dressing.
Now...go! Enjoy your weekend!
Angela

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Almost Wordless Wednesday:The Real Batman

Never underestimate the power of an imagination....
 Some paint......
 A bit of old felt.....
A rubber band......
 And of course, some black electrical tape.
 He looks just like the real Batman. Yes?
He'll save the day, that's for sure.

Happy Wednesday, friends.
Angela

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bacon and a Ticket

Today was our last MOPS for the year. Some of my favorite Moms graduated, the kids sang for us, thank you gifts were passed out, tears were shed and hugs were given. I've been part of that group of women 4 years now and I sure do love those ladies. We have an irreplaceable group and although each year is a little different, each is super special. I think I could keep on having kids just to stay in MOPS.....

MOPS mornings are super crazy for us. We rolled into the driveway last night well after 10pm. The fun we had at my sister's was totally worth it (I still smell like a campfire!) but this morning the kids had to be awakened and then literally plopped into their car seats.

It's crazy how much stuff we had to leave the house with:
3 kids
1 diaper bag
1 purse
1 bag of clothes to give to a friend
breakfast for them to eat in the car
drinks
and....a plate of bacon for the brunch

The bacon and my bulging diaper bag sat next to me on the passenger seat and with granola bars in their hands and drinks in the cup holders, we pulled out of the driveway, just about 10 minutes late.
Ugh, being late's embarrassing.

As we drove, I remembered that my sister had texted me during that flurry of leaving the house and I hadn't gotten back to her yet. I picked up my phone to call her back. No texting and driving ladies...safety first, safety first. Well, no talking and driving either, at least not in Washington. At that moment, a sheriff passed me on his motorcycle and then he flipped around, turning on his lights. 
Dude.

As he pulled me over, I rolled my window down and got my drivers license ready. You guys- I literally haven't been pulled over in 10 years. 10 years! I was so nervous and totally shaking as I dug through the glove box for my registration. As I handed it to him, he said 'Yep, that's it!'. See, I wasn't even sure if that was the registration. I'm not an expert in the area of getting pulled over.
Thankfully.

With teary eyes, I explained: "I'm so sorry, I'm on my way to the last MOPS of the year. My sister's son is sick and I was just calling to see if he's doing alright. I'm so sorry, I know it was wrong!"

With my big plate of bacon on the passenger seat, the overflowing diaper bag, 2 kids eating breakfast with morning hair and one baby sleeping, I must have been quite a sight. Really, I was the poster child for a mini-van Mom, on her way to MOPS- complete with bacon.

He didn't even flinch when he saw the kids, the bags and the bacon. He just walked back to his motorcycle and wrote me a fat ticket for using my phone. $124 later, being on the phone sure wasn't worth it. I know, I was wrong, but with such a good record, you'd think a warning might have been sufficient.

As I drove off with my fatty ticket, I wondered if maybe I should have offered him some of that bacon. After all, it was cooked quite nicely and thanks to him, it was now cold. No, I think the bacon offer probably wouldn't have helped. Now I was just going to be extra late to MOPS, with cold bacon and kids with morning hair.

The moral of my story is that even if you do get pulled over for talking and driving (which you seriously shouldn't do), and you have bacon in your front seat, the bacon won't help.

And for the record, I still haven't told my husband about my ticket....He's always told me to stay off my phone. I'm really sorry love, you were right, you usually are.

****A few memories from Memorial Day.
 Paisley decorated Eliza's pouch.
Mugs of coffee by the fire at my sister's. These moments never get old. 
Auntie and Paisley roasting marshmallows. 
Angela

Monday, May 27, 2013

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies with a WINNER!

Hey guys! I hope you're having a super fun extra long weekend. Last year on Memorial Day, I visited the cemetery with Paisley. Seeing my free spirited daughter running without a care in the world, around graves that were decorated with flags, really put Memorial Day into perspective for me.
We have so much to be thankful for, don't we? Let's remember those men and women, who helped make our freedom possible.
So....changing subjects now......
Today I'm sharing a cookie recipe with you all, that my husband claims as his absolute favorite. What's better than the perfect chocolate chip cookie, with a soft and chewy Oreo baked on the inside? Not much!

About a week ago, I started the South Beach diet. I know, I've said that a lot, here on the blog. I guess that's just what happens when you've had 3 babies in 4 years---you always fall back to the good old South Beach, because it works.

So, what I'm saying is that I won't be eating any of these in the near future, but if you're looking for a total splurge recipe, this one is good, really good. Make them and enjoy them for me, won't you?

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. mini chocolate chips
12 Oreos

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color. Add egg and vanilla and blend in.

3. Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in mini chocolate chips.

4. Chill the cookie dough for at least 30 minutes. After the dough is chilled, scoop a 2 inch sized clump into your hand and flatten it out like a pancake. Lay the Oreo on top of the dough and then shape the dough around the Oreo, until the Oreo is completely hidden. The cookies will be large so, put only 4-6 on each baking sheet.  Continue to chill the dough in between batches of cookies. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until barely golden brown, just around the edges.

5. Let cool on the sheet, for a minute or two and then transfer to a wire rack.
Makes 12 large Oreo Stuffed Cookies.
Happy Memorial Day!
Angela

And for the winner..........
A big thanks to all of you who entered the Pillsbury giftpack giveaway. The winner is: Vera Khule! Please send me an email: angela@angelastrand.com and we'll get you hooked up with that prize!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Horse Visit

This morning the kids and I went and visited the horses that live by my Mom. Jeremiah had to work and call me crazy, but these days it's actually sometimes easier to be on the go with my 3, instead of just playing at home. 
We loaded up a bag of snacks, grabbed the camera, fed Eliza and then headed out. As we drove there, I got a little worried that it might rain, since the sky was covered with gray clouds.
The rain held off until our drive home. It was perfect.
The kids picked flowers to give to my Mom and then she gave them some chocolate piggies that she had in her pocket. Now they're going to be addicted to chocolate piggies. Thanks, Mom. Just kidding. 

When we got to the pasture, the horses were way out there and I wasn't sure if they were going to come in to visit with us. Thankfully, the gal Julia, who works with the horses was there and she called them in for us. I should have taken a picture of her. She was the sweetest girl with beautiful red hair. She helped Judah and Paisley feed grass to the horses and of course, they loved that. 
One of the reasons that we went to see the horses, was to see the two new babies. The babies stayed back a bit, so we didn't really get to visit with them, but that's alright. Maybe they stayed back because two little kids were frantically throwing grass over the fence? They might have been a bit intimidated by the intensity of that grass throwing....




This barn is right next to the horse pasture. With the tall hills behind it (currently covered by clouds), the setting is just gorgeous.
The owner of the barn is Ken. He was such a funny character and a really nice guy.

This time of year, Judah's freckles start popping out by the dozens. I love, love, love them, but I try to keep that love under wraps so, he doesn't think his Mom is crazy. I can't help but take a few pictures though.

Baby Eliza joined us for our horse visit, via the Moby. Can't you just see the excitement on her face? "Horses??? Snore....."
Angela

Thursday, May 23, 2013

4 Year Blog-a-versary

4 years ago, I sat in a recliner with our laptop and as our first baby slept, I randomly decided to start a blog. I had no expectations for this blog of mine that I was creating. I simply opened up a free blogging service, set up a simple blog and started writing. Here's my first post:

May 23rd 2009:
Well, here I am. The baby is in bed and I'm going to give this whole blogging thing a try. The reason I decided to do this is because life is going to quickly and it's hard to remember some of the day to day precious details. I've tried old fashioned journaling and it doesn't work for me. I find that I am way to critical of what I write down on paper and I can't just keep it simple and honest. I just want to be able to keep track of the little things better. Judah is already 4 months old and I can't hardly remember what he slept like at 2 months! I hope this will be a little creative outlet for me and something where I can share my heart and the mundane, yet special day to day details of my life.

After that first post, I didn't blog again for a few months and then slowly the posts started becoming more frequent and blogging evolved into the perfect creative outlet for me. Looking back, there are a few things that I wish I had done differently. I wish the blog had different name. "Angela's Adventures", just doesn't quite do it for me, but it might be too late to change and even if I did, I don't have any amazing name ideas at this point. If you have any ideas, throw them out there. I'm all ears! Also, I might not have used our real names....nicknames might have made me feel more comfortable, but it's too late for that. 

At first, I  shared my blog with no one. I was pretty sure that it was totally nerdy and I was happy to keep my nerdy hobby on the down low. The writing I was doing was simply for me, as a way to document the simple, beautiful, crazy and precious everyday. Even when my big boy was a tiny baby, I believed with my whole heart that the special, day to day details of life need to be celebrated. 

After blogging for 4 years, I'm often still totally embarrassed when people in "real life" read my blog. It still feels like I must be totally wack-o to type out my thoughts, adventures, ramblings and share our memories with you...the person that reads what I write. But, as much as it makes me rosy-cheeked, it also feels so right. I know that God gives each of us our own unique story and I love being able to share our story in this way. At this point, I just need to work on sharing my story more proudly. I need to feel more comfortable with putting my heart out there. I want to work on telling our story, proud!

Over the last 4 years, I feel like I've learned a lot about blogging and the funny little bloggy world. I've learned that you need to maintain who YOU are. No one is YOU and you can't be anyone better than you can be yourself. In the blogging world, comparison is a nasty joy stealer---Actually, comparison is a nasty joy stealer in every area of life, isn't it? Well, when you write, be you and when you are truly you, joy will follow. 

Over the last 4 years, I've also learned that there isn't a "right" way to blog, but you have to do what's right for YOU.  Awhile back, I went through a phase where I shared lots of craft and DIY ideas and I linked up a lot. Comments came and my blogs stats grew, but I felt like my content was so empty. When I started this blog, I wanted to share my heart and the mundane, yet special day to day details of life. I didn't start this blog to be a craft blog and I'm so glad I came back around to writing more of our story and less of our projects. The comments that I've received on posts where I've shared my heart and helped someone have been so much more valuable to me, than a comment on a wreath or something. And trust me, I like wreaths just as much as anyone, I just don't feel like that's what God wants me to write about. 

A few weeks ago, I went to dinner with my Mom and sister. As we sat there, eating our Thai food, I teared up as I told them that I love writing, but I'm so worried that every time I post, I'm making an absolute fool of myself. I shared that I'm hoping that I'm not stepping out there and looking like a total idiot, without anyone telling me, because how much would that stink? I asked them if I should continue to blog and if so, what should I blog about or what should I change? Their feedback was really helpful and just saying those words was something that I needed. I needed to realize that I love writing and that I'd do this, even if no one ever read. 

From time to time, I go back and read what I wrote when I first started blogging. Those posts are special to me now. The days when Judah was just a baby seem like they were so long ago and having those memories written down, is such a treasure. 

When I started writing, I also didn't realize what an amazingly huge community the blogging world is. I've made some connections that have really been a blessing. I've received emails from encouraging readers that have really made my day. And some of my favorite posts aren't the ones that have been pinned the most or have had the most views. No, my favorites are the ones that have made a little difference in someone's life. After we attended the "Weekend to Remember", I blogged about it and a few people have since commented and said that my post encouraged them to go. Those are the comments that have made me feel like God can use even  a stay at home Mom, who writes while her kids nap to encourage others. 

And lastly.....one of my favorite things about writing is YOU. As much as I get totally embarrassed, I just love you guys and I'm not going to deny that, because I do love ya...big time. As I continue to write, I want to make this little space that God has given me, the absolute best that it can be. I want to write to keep our memories, but I also want this space to be a place that means something to you.

Our story is so imperfect, but I'm passionate about making the most of daily life and sharing that in this space. Someone really wise (I can't remember who) once said that we write to taste life twice and that quote has become one of my favorites. With my whole heart I believe that I'm supposed to not only survive this season with my trio of little ones, but I'm also supposed to ENJOY it. I hope that when I share our joys and our mistakes, that you'll see that we're just like you...blessed, broken, excited and trying to make every day beautiful. There is so much beauty in normal, day to day life. There's so much to celebrate, so much to share and so much that needs to be remembered.

So, my question for you is.....
What do you wish I would write more about? Do you have any questions for me? What type of posts do you enjoy the most?

I'm so glad I started this 4 years ago, what fun it's been!
Angela

***Wrapping this up with a picture of Judah, after we picked him up from his last day of preschool. Before we went to get him, we decorated his car seat with a few balloons and some streamers. He couldn't stop smiling. It really is all about the simple things. Happy Summer, sweet boy. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Just Do YOUR Best

He came running down the hallway, with sparkly eyes and a huge grin on his face. Finding me in the kitchen, working on breakfast, he asked me to come into his room. He said he wanted to show me something.

As I walked into his room, I saw his bed, the bed that he had just spent many minutes trying to perfectly make. Covers were spread out all over it, some of them were sort of straight. Maybe it wasn't how I think a bed should be made, but it was his best and he was so proud. I bit my tongue and decided in that moment that only praise would come out of my mouth. I smiled big and I gave him a huge high five. It was tempting to go in and straighten those covers later, but I didn't. He would know that his best wasn't good enough and what I want more than anything is for him to know that his best IS.

Daily, I'm learning that it's not about things being perfect. It's about just doing YOUR best. I can't ask for my  way, but I can ask for them to do their best and then I can praise the heck out of their efforts. I would hope that if you came to my house, that you'd find my kids beds made imperfectly, because they made them and not me. It's not about having a perfectly made bed, it's about having the opportunity to learn and knowing that your effort is good enough, in everything that you do.

Tonight I sat there and watched him get his preschool certificate. As he sang the songs with his friends, it felt like my heart was flopping around outside of my chest. Up there, he looked so much older and yet still so very small, with so much to learn and with such a pure, tender heart.
He fiddled with his button, looked at the kids behind him, wiggled, smiled, waved and lifted his shirt over his head. He did his best and his best was awesome.
Angela

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Nicknames

This girl. 
Between the kids and I, she has a ton of nicknames. We just can't help it. Silly talk just starts spilling out, when you hangout with this baby. Here are just a few.......

Honey
Honey bunny
Love
Little Lovey
Chunkers
Chubbers
Kissy cheeks
Kissy face
Boo boo
Baby 'Liza
And my personal favorite, given to her by Paisley: Baby Goobee (pronounced Goo-Bee).


 


 




Angela

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