Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lemon Cookies

Thanks for the love yesterday friends. I didn't mean to come off too sour; it is true that the transition out here has been tougher than we thought, but I what I really wanted to share was how we finally realized that we needed to change the perspective on our new life in order to make it work. Sorry if it didn't come off exactly right. Things aren't horrible, just different. We are looking forward to a lot of positivity in the future and know in our hearts that we will look back at this time and adventure fondly!

Positive Lesson #1: Apparently I really like to bake. Six weeks ago I hated baking, now C, B and I are always in the kitchen making something tasty. It makes no sense, but we have fun doing it and I figure if I'm ever going to lose these last 5 pounds, I need to stop eating oreos and start making lemon cookies. Right? The calories don't count if it's sort of homemade? Let's just go with that.

These are some of my favorites because they are easy and taste like cake, but in smaller bites (see? healthy!) and all you need is 4 ingredients:
Mike cake mix, cool whip and egg all together:
As always, snap pictures of the best little helpers around:

Once the lemon mixture is ready, roll little balls of dough in powder sugar:
Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes:
And enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Expectations

As with everything in life, Kev and I built up pretty big expectations for our big Monterey move. We love the water and thought we would spend a lot time at the beach. We decided to move into the military community, assuming all our neighbors would be in the same boat and age range as us, thus making friends easy to meet. We thought Kev could treat school like a work day and not have to ever bring work home. We believed that even though it was far away from home, we would become so immersed in our new life that we wouldn't get homesick. Things are not exactly going as planned.

-The water is cold, well and y'all know about the sun situation.
-We have met a lot of people in our neighborhood, but not many that we feel we can connect with (except for my faithful blog readers Tyler and Dena- hey friends, thanks for being awesome!)
-Kev's schedule is much more demanding than we were expecting and he spends a lot of time outside a 9-5 day on school work.
-I'm a little homesick, a lot of the time. I miss my family, and job, and friends and waiting for the leaves to start changing soon.

But the reality is, we are here, and here for 2 years, so there is no use spending the next two years harping on these things. Kev and I are both really positive people and we definitely have not been ourselves since the move. We spent a lot of time last weekend chatting about that and decided from here on out, up we go. So the new plan is to enjoy the beach anyways, maybe Kev will even learn to surf. We have accepted that school will be tough and there is a lot of work to be done. We talked about the different ways we can take advantage of the time we do have together and if that means Kev works really hard during the week so we have our weekends free, then that is what we will do. We will expand out horizons in the neighborhood; Kev got a bike and wants to join the cycling club, while I am stalker-style noting the houses that put up any SEC team flags in preparation for football season and plan on making them be my friend. We not only have my mom's visit this week, but some friends from home coming on Sunday, my parents at the end of October and Kev's mom in the beginning of November and a trip to Washington State to see my sister in law and her family at Thanksgiving, so that is a lot to look forward to. We also decided that we need to find what it pretty and special about out here, not just cling to what we love about the East Coast, so we want to start traveling a lot more.

We also know things could be a lot worse. We are a military family who has been able to be together and not worry about deployments for the past few years. Kev comes home every night and I'm not concerned for his safety. That in itself makes this all worth it. So it's not that we don't like it here, it is just not what we expected. And so now, we can start over and look forward to so much more.

So here's what I need from you:
a) Anything in your life lately that is not living up to your expectations? How do you deal with it?
b) What West Coast experiences must I add to our bucket list? From the well known tourist destinations to a favorite taco stand on the side of the road, I want to hear about it!

Annnnnd I am officially done complaining. Seriously, I am, stop looking at me like that.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sun and Friends

I'm not sure if you really understand the lack-of-sun situation, and maybe think I am a little crazy for constantly talking about it, so I figured I should show you what it is really like. This is was it looks like most days behind my house in the middle of the afternoon:
And this was my street yesterday evening:
And from the top of the mountain. See the cloud? It just sits on Monterey Bay all.the.time.
People say the weather should be changing soon and we will have a really nice fall, but in the meantime, I am sure you can guess where the family and I spent part of our weekend... Carmel Valley. Yay!




Then yesterday, we were grateful to find some East Coasters in San Francisco and spent the day walking around with old friends, seeing the sea lions and lunching.
Lys and my little Benjiman Button:
Our friends Nick and Erin and were so sweet to take time out of their anniversary to hang out with us!

Friends from home always make things better don't they? Now we are gearing up for another foggy week, but my mom comes tomorrow for a few days and we are SO exicted! Hope your weekend was great!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How To Make (and Use) Chicken Stock

Chicken stock is one of those seems so hard, but is actually really easy, recipes that my mom taught me a year or so ago. I was cooking with a lot of canned chicken broth and had no idea there was a simple, cheaper and healthier alternative to it.

1. Buy a whole chicken at your local grocer. Remove gizzards and stick in a pot full of water. Turn water up to a boil and skim film that raises to the top.
2. Turn water down to a simmer and add some veggies:
3. In true, this-isn't-really-a-recipe form, add whatever spices you have on hand. Here's what I used:
4. Cover that sucker up for 2-3 hours.
5. Remove from stove and pull chicken off the bone. It should fall right off and if you aren't a little bit grossed out by pulling chicken off, then you should get more than this (It works much better when I task Husband to chicken pulling):
6. Check out your sweet bowl-o-stock (drain and discard veggies used):
7. Take pictures of your little helper. Get so close that he drools and goes crossed-eyed. Sorry buddy.
8. Make some awesome meals from your hard work. Exhibit A) Quesadillas- using pre-cooked chicken:
Exhibit B) Chicken noodle soup using veggies already bought for stock and some Cut Spaghetti:
And little ham sliders for extra love:
The leftovers you can freeze in ice cube trays and use at any time you would otherwise use chicken stock or broth. And there you have it. Feel domesticated already don't you?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What It Takes For a Good Picture

A lot of these:






To get this:

We do what we can.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

New Hair-Do and Our Weekend Journey for Sun

The Horse Hair is gone people, no more buns and braids around here. Before:
After:
Ah, I love a good haircut! I feel like a brand new person. As for the rest of the weekend, it was spent just like the previous two: in Carmel Valley where the sun shines and people don't hate life. We found a great little pool and Cullen was SO excited to swim again:
As we climbed over the mountain Saturday morning and our moods started to lift, even Cullen shouted from the backseat, "I see it Mommy, I see da sunny!"


Bennett loved it too:
We stayed at the park so long that C almost fell asleep swinging with Kev:
Check out that drool. Now that's a worn out toddler:
"I yike it Mommy, I yike da sunny!"
Back in the clouds, I decided Baby B needed to have a photoshoot and he was a very good sport about it:




He is such a doll baby isn't he?

How was your weekend?