Thursday, July 29, 2010

National Lasagna Day

Mexican Chicken Lasagna Sorry for the lack of posts…I’ve been sick for about a week and have had enough energy to…well…BARELY watch my son. But, I think I’m on the mend, hallelujah! So, today was National Lasagna Day and I mustered up the “energy” (‘cuz it’s SOO much work) to make Mexican Chicken Lasagna, a recipe courtesy of Pampered Chef.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take step-by-step pictures and CONFESSION: I “stole” the pic above from the web. Mine, while it tastes divine, doesn’t look nearly as pretty! But, here’s how it’s made (I make it slightly different than the Pampered Chef recipe says):

Mexican Chicken “Lasagna”

1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese

¼ c. lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

2 c. (8oz) shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided

1 can (28oz) enchilada sauce (I think I use Old El Paso – mild)

9-12 (6-in.) corn tortillas

3 c. diced or shredded cooked chicken

2/3 c. chopped onion


I cooked the chicken in the crockpot. I just threw 2-3 frozen chicken breasts with about a 1/4 c. of water in on high for 4 hours and, Voila! Instant delicious, moist shredded chicken.

Microwave cream cheese on high 30-45 seconds. Add cilantro and 1 ½ c. Monterey Jack cheese; mix well. Spread 2/3 c. enchilada sauce over bottom of deep covered baker. (See, this is where Pampered Chef says, use our fancy pan! I just used the deep covered baker I have, and to be honest a 9x13” pan would probably work just as well.) Pour remaining sauce into large bowl, set aside.

Dip 3-4 tortillas into enchilada sauce, arrange over sauce in baker. Scoop half of cream cheese mixture over tortillas, spread evenly. (This is messy, unless you have some gift of using a spatula or something, but, it doesn’t have to be perfect). Top with 1 cup of chicken and 1/3 of onion. Repeat layers 1 time. Dip remaining 3-4 tortillas, arrange over 2nd layer. Top with remaining chicken and onion. Pour remaining sauce over and sprinkle with remaining ½ c. jack cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25-35 minutes. Mmm…it’s delicious! Enjoy the twist on National Lasagna Day.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Concert in the Park - Folsom

We attended our second Concert in the Park tonight and I HAD to share some of the fun pictures! Thanks to the Tooth Station, we all got free train rides! Poor Cooper got blasted with the mist from the train as we walked up, so he took awhile to warm up to the idea, even up to getting on the train. Take a look at the pics and you’ll see. =)IMG_2393 Waiting with our tickets.Faith with balloon IMG_2397








Faith and Natasha!IMG_2395

Ethan & Lucas!IMG_2398Waiting for the train to start…notice Cooper is still recovering.IMG_2399  Marie & Caleb!IMG_2406Ethan & Cooper still trying to catch another glimpse of the train (see, Cooper wasn’t scarred, he still loves it!)

Ice Cream Cone Patented

IMG_2356 The ice cream cone first arrived on the scene back in 1904! Cooper has had one ice cream cone previously, but it was highly monitored by yours truly because we were out where we couldn’t go home for another couple of hours. So it was not the time for large messes.IMG_2353Today, however, was a totally different deal! Can I just say that, being a fan of ice cream cones myself…I’ve been eating them for quite some time (had my first close to 6 months, thanks Dad!), and I’ve forgotten the art of eating an ice cream cone. There is most definitely an art to eating an ice cream cone, that has to be learned! And this being Cooper’s second only, he has NOT learned the art.  Here is learning the art of the lick…IMG_2359Here, Cooper learns that when you don’t lick fast enough, it makes a mess. He literally pointed at it and said, “Mess”.

IMG_2361Then he learned that one can never have enough ice cream. He tried to steal a bite of Daddy’s. Ahh, that’s my son!IMG_2365And finally, he learns that a mess is worthwhile in order to fully enjoy ice cream. He gave in to the mess! And boy did he LOVE his first, very own ice cream cone. I should’ve taken the final picture of having to strip him down to his diaper…and yes, we had to run an errand to Home Depot afterward. I was totally the white trash mom walking through the store with my son in just a diaper. Gotta love it! =) IMG_2379    Life Lesson? – There IS an art to eating an ice cream cone, and it’s definitely worth while to let your kids make a mess.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


IMG_2344 No jazzy holidays for today, so I decided to make it a Hopscotch Day. I drew one on the driveway while Cooper and I were playing with chalk a few weeks ago, and he LOVED it! He obviously can’t actually PLAY, but he enjoys hopping after me and throwing his “marker”, which in our case happened to be a string of paperclips. What did you use as a marker when you used to play hopscotch? I’m curious! Even if your kids are 12! Go enjoy a good old fashioned game of hopscotch. It rocks!IMG_2339

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chess Day

IMG_2331 I must admit, I am blessed with TWO fabulous sets of Grandparents for Cooper! My in-laws collect chess sets and Cooper is always very fascinated by some of the sets they have out at their house. My mother-in-law has gone over some of the names of chess pieces with Cooper, and believe it or not, some have stuck!

So, for “Chess Day”, I decided we’d get out our own chess set (not nearly as glamorous, but perfect for a toddler), and review some of the names. He’s got pawn, rook, knight, and queen down. I think the queen is his favorite, smart boy I guess!IMG_2314 Cheers to exposing our kiddos to “high-level” games even at an early age. Happy Chess Day!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Park Day

Disneyland opened today way back in 1955! =) We’ll be celebrating this one in August when we head down to LA, so for today, we settled for a plain old park, which still offered lots of adventure! Cooper particularly enjoyed the bunnies. And I’m cherishing these moments while Cooper wants me to experience everything with him. Here’s a picture of him pointing to the ramp he wants me to come and climb with him. Doesn’t it just make your heart melt?IMG_2266 IMG_2264 I also tried a new recipe I thought I’d share. It’s different, very…zingy? Ryan enjoyed it. Here goes:

Butter Lettuce Salad

with Walnuts & GrapesIMG_2303


  • 3  cups  walnut halves (9 oz.)
  • 1/3  cup  plus 1 tablespoon walnut oil
  • 2  tablespoons  sugar
  • About 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4  cup  Champagne vinegar
  • 1/4  cup  minced shallots
  • 2  tablespoons  Dijon mustard
  • About 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
  • 1  pound  butter lettuce, rinsed, crisped, and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 3  cups  rinsed and stemmed red seedless grapes, halved
  • 1  cup  finely slivered red onion, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh tarragon


1. In a 10- by 15-inch baking pan, mix walnuts with 1 tablespoon oil, the sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; spread level. Bake in a 350° oven, stirring occasionally, until nuts are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

2. In a large bowl, mix vinegar, shallots, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Slowly whisk in 1/3 cup oil until vinaigrette is emulsified. Add lettuce, grapes, red onion, tarragon, and sugared walnuts; mix gently to coat, adding more salt and pepper to taste.

And to be honest…we always have our salads with chicken, so here’s how we really ate it, also yummy:IMG_2304

Friday, July 16, 2010

Daddy Time

Did I mention the heat is zapping my energy? So, today marked the day when Apollo 11 lifted off, and I had every intention of having Cooper watch a shuttle launch online. But, instead, we went swimming (remember, to help avoid the heat) and Daddy had fun with Cooper after work. Here are some pictures from swimming, and if you’re a friend on facebook, you can check out all the fun had by Cooper with daddy in my videos (once I can get it uploaded, rats!).IMG_2606[1] IMG_2629[1]

How cute is my friend Kellie’s son? What a natural in water! IMG_2599[2]

Thursday, July 15, 2010

First Boeing 707 Flew

Today marks the 56th anniversary of the first flight of a Boeing 707 jet (It first flew in 1954). My plan was to make paper airplanes, as well as fly our “rubber band” airplane and one of those little helicopter toys we have at home, you know, that you spin in your palm and it flies up in the air? Anyway, it’s been HOT! The heat is zapping my creative cells. I made a weak attempt…I brought the two toys to meet my friend at a park. We played with them for approximately 2 minutes. But had a blast anyhow! If you look closely, you can see the yellow airplane in the corner of the picture. Then there are some pictures of Cooper trying to keep cool in the water features. =)IMG_2254 IMG_2255 IMG_2258

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Art Beast

No holidays today, which was the perfect time to visit a place I’ve been looking forward to visiting in downtown Sacramento called Art Beast. What an awesome place! Imagine anything you could possibly think of that would stimulate a child’s imagination….and you have the Art Beast house. Let me break it down for you:

The lower room has a child-sized NASA Station, a puppet stage, an aluminum tubing “house”, dress-up clothes to your heart’s content, a piano, and a stage complete with musical instruments including a guitar and a drum set.  IMG_2212 IMG_2213 IMG_2254

IMG_2219 The middle room has any art object on the planet! Paints, glue, crayons, markers, popsicle sticks, play-doh, clay, pom-poms, construction paper….you name it, they’ve got it. And if you’re worried about your little “beastie” making a mess? Don’t! They’ve got all the supplies to help keep things somewhat clean, although they don’t point fingers. I saw multiple children (including my own) fling paint willy-nilly. Nobody batted an eye. They even have an acrylic wall for finger painting! Here’s Cooper working on some of his masterpieces (come on…you like the apron! Very manly, yes?):IMG_2221 IMG_2231 In the backyard, they have different water and sand play stations set up, including a baby-washing station. One of the most intriguing was a water table with stuff that LOOKED like bubbles or maybe snow (not something an adult would run over and stick their hands in), but it turned out to be water-soaked paper towels. Who knew kids would be drawn to that? Here are some pictures from that area:IMG_2234 IMG_2255 IMG_2256 Last, but not least, upstairs they have a few rooms set up for classes such as a drum class, yoga, dance, singing – and get this! They’re included in your daily entrance cost, assuming they have room (which I’d find it really hard for them to turn someone away unless there physically wasn’t room).

Attached to the art room is a house-type play area with a kitchen and bedroom. Along the wall they had this cool contraption with essentially a gigantic screw affixed to 2 lengths of wood. On the screws were washers which you could lift up and drop down, which would make them clatter and spiral down the screw. Simple, yet fascinating! I would definitely recommend Art Beast! What a fun place for kids to unleash their creativity and be in an environment where they can have total reign!IMG_2251

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

“Go West” Day

Before we took off for our “Go West” celebrations…we hit up story time at Karen’s Bakery again! And the animal on display seemed to sort of fit with our theme for the day…SNAKES (well, a gigantic boa constrictor to be exact)! They live in the desert, right? Cooper was fascinated!IMG_2197 “Go West” day seemed to me the perfect excuse to finally get the sheriff’s badge we purchased at the state capitol in Austin engraved with Cooper’s name. Unfortunately, we have to wait a week until we can pick it up, but in the meantime, we found a $3 cowboy hat and also picked out The Cowboy ABC book from the library, to help us get in the mood! More pictures to come after we pick up the official badge. In the picture below, he is preparing to part with his badge for its official inscription. IMG_2201

Monday, July 12, 2010

Family and Food

IMG_2168 We had a surprise visit from Uncle Todd and Grandpa Whitney tonight for dinner! Well, it was a surprise for Cooper. Ryan gave me a heads up yesterday and thankfully my dinner plans fit perfectly for company. I made Summer Blackened Chicken Salad for dinner, and we had an Oatmeal Blueberry Bar for dessert. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of dinner (we gobbled it up too quickly). But, here’s the recipe anyhow, it’s definitely worth noting!

Summer Blackened Chicken Salad

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed (or minced)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1 avocado - peeled, pitted, and diced
  • 12 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  1. Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season both sides of chicken with Cajun seasoning, and place in hot oil. Stir in crushed garlic. Cook chicken 5 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear. Remove chicken from skillet, drain on paper towels, cool slightly, and dice; discard oil and garlic.
  2. In a small bowl, mix remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper.
  3. In a large bowl, gently toss the dressing with the mixed salad greens, arugula, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives. Top with diced chicken to serve.

IMG_2187 Oatmeal Blueberry Bar

Crust and Topping:

1 c. flour

¾ c. light brown sugar, firmly packed

½ tsp. salt

½ c. butter, cold and cut into small cubes

2 ½ c. quick-cook oats

2 T apple or orange juice


¼ c. dark brown sugar, firmly packed

2 T flour

Pinch of salt

3 ½ c. fresh blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries (18 oz.)

1 T fresh lemon juice (I actually used lime, and it worked fine)


Heat oven to 375◦. Grease 9x13-inch pan.

Add flour, light brown sugar, and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once or twice to combine, then add the butter and pulse five or six more times, until coarse crumbs form. Add the oats and pulse two or three more times.

Remove 1 ½ cups of mixture, set aside. Add the juice to the remaining mixture and pulse three or four times until it’s moistened. Press firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan.

For the filling, whisk together the sugar, flour ,and salt in a medium-size bowl. Add the fruit and lemon juice and gently toss the mixture using a rubber spatula until the fruit is coated. Distribute the filling over the crust.

Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture over the filling. Bake until the top is golden, about 35-45 minutes. Let pan cool on a wire rack for about 2 hours. Cut into 16 bars, store in refrigerator.

ShabbyBlogsDividerG Following dinner, the boys thought they’d give Cooper some tips in the Nicholas male ways…..hmmm…..not sure how I feel about this yet, I suppose it’s inevitable (not to worry, he wasn’t actually DOING anything, just sitting pretending to play around on the screen):


Saturday, July 10, 2010

“Teddy Bear’s Picnic Day”

IMG_2158 So I must admit….I was very reluctant to do this today with the heat and all. It’s almost 100 degrees and I wasn’t feeling like having a picnic outside. But, Cooper was very excited about his surprise today and when he woke up from his nap, he kept saying, “Picnic, picnic!” And I’m SO glad he was persistent! Cuteness is all I have to say.

We gathered the necessary materials to make a modest picnic (and I do mean we…Cooper got teddy bear, monkey and Elmo and was waiting at the back door). I got a blanket, his tea set, and some snack foods. We set up our picnic and it was adorable watching Cooper play “host”. He allowed snacks to be placed on everyone’s plate and made sure their tea remained full at all times. Exhibit A:IMG_2155 What a little gentleman! We had an excellent little picnic together, Cooper, monkey, Elmo, teddy and I. So precious!IMG_2157IMG_2159 IMG_2147

Friday, July 9, 2010

National Sugar Cookie Day

IMG_2129 What an awesome country we live in, do we not? National Sugar Cookie Day? Rock on! So, Cooper helped me make the dough and cut out the shapes for our sugar cookie decorating. Then the perfectionist in me took over. =) I had my friend over to help with decorating the cookies. We had a lot of fun! Not too shabby for my first official attempt and going all out decorating a cookie. And Cooper was VERY excited to see his sports-related cookies!

Here are the recipes I used for the cookies and the icing. Thank you Alissa for a fabulous sugar cookie recipe!

Sugar Cookies

3 c. flour

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

1 c. sugar

1 c. butter

1 egg

3 T cream or milk

1 tsp. vanilla


Mix all ingredients together, chill for 30 minutes. Bake at 400◦ for 5-8 minutes.


¼ c. meringue powder (available @ Michael’s)

½ c. water

4 c. confectioner’s sugar

Directions for icing:

In a medium bowl, beat together meringue powder and water until soft peaks form. Gently stir in sugar until fully incorporated. Icing consistency can be adjusted by adding more or less water by the tablespoon. Beginning with a few drops of food coloring, mix well to achieve desired color.

And here are the beauties that we created this afternoon!

IMG_2116 IMG_2120   IMG_2122 And of course…a little something girly…=) And they taste divine, too. Happy Sugar Cookie Day!IMG_2125