Monday, June 30, 2014

Joyride, Wild Horses and BIG Breakfast

This past week we celebrated our 4th anniversary! We got a great deal on Groupon for a room at the Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, so we made plans for a little stay-cation.

The day before we left, we took Mr. A out to lunch at Joyride, a local taco shop. The owners of this restaurant are known for taking old buildings and converting them in to trendy new restaurants. We love their other restaurants, Postino and Federal Pizza, so we were pretty excited to try it out. The decor is funky and fun...I wanted to take pictures of everything, but i showed some restraint.

We both ordered their lunch special which includes 2 tacos of your choice and either a side soup or salad. Cass got the tortilla soup with a crispy fish taco and a shrimp taco. She wasn't crazy about all of the slaw and fixings on the taco...she'd prefer a street taco. I got a salad, The Standard taco and a carnitas taco. I thought it was all delicious. The standard taco is made with chicken and honestly, I would not normally order chicken tacos, but it was really good! It's topped with Aji Amarillo, which is something that Cassandra's dad uses in his Peruvian cooking and what lead me to order it in the first place. It was tasty!

They also serve ajuas frescas, which are refreshing juices that are made from fruit. They offer different kinds and the option to make them spiked! So you can build your own with rum, vodka, tequila, gin, Frangelico or Amaretto. I got a strawberry and watermelon mixed with rum. Yumm! 

And of course, I had the best lunch dates ever!!

The next day Cass and I dropped the little man off with her parents and headed to Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino. This casino is pretty small, but the rooms are really nice and we had a blast! There was a band called Powerdrive playing at the Encore Lounge and we sat and watched them for 3 hours! They played a lot of diverse styles of music and had the crowd dancing! It was fun! 
Then we headed to the slots where I won $228.00! Everything about the stay was great and we want to do it again with some of our friends.


The day after that, my mom was in town and my brother, the world traveler (he just returned from his European vacation so we're teasing him about having crepes in Paris) had just gotten back so we all went to breakfast. We went to the ever so popular Matt's Big Breakfast. This is a small restaurant that is exceedingly popular and almost always has people waiting outside...even in the AZ heat. We were fortunate enough to walk right in and get a table. This was my first time going there and I liked it. They have fresh squeezed orange juice, make their own jelly, and used cage free eggs. This place is such a big deal in Phoenix that I feel like I'm being sacrilegious by saying this, but besides the toast and jelly, it didn't really stand out to me. It was good, but I'm not sure I'd want to stand in the heat for it. If you do decide to give it a try (why wouldn't you?), then I recommend getting the home fries and trying the toast and jelly. 

I'd love to hear from you, and your opinions about any of these places.

Friday, June 20, 2014

DIY Play dough

For Mr. A's 2nd birthday, a friend of ours gave him a reusable grocery bag filled with the ingredients for making play dough, some food coloring and cookie cutters. It was a great gift and I loved it! She also left us with the recipe and I was a little nervous when I saw that there was cooking involved, but honestly, its super easy to make.
Here's the recipe:

2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 cup of salt
2 tablespoons of veg. oil
1 tablespoon of cream of tartar

Kool Aid or food coloring for desired colors.

I just threw all of the ingredients, excluding the coloring, into a pot and stirred it over medium heat. It cooks pretty quickly, so I just stayed closed and kept stirring until it pulled away from the sides and formed a ball in the center of the pot. I would recommend that you let it cook a little longer than you think you should, so its not sticky. The longer it cooks, the less sticky it will be (I jumped the gun on my second batch and it was a little more sticky). Once you think it is at a good consistency, let it cool so that you can handle it.


I used my spatula to kind of cut it in quarters, and decided I would make 4 different colors. It made more than I thought it was going to.

We used Kool-Aid to color it because it also makes it smell amazing!! Mr. A's favorite part was pouring the Kool-Aid in the dough. 

Here are the final results: 

We used orange, cherry and watermelon flavored Kool-Aid and 2 packets per ball of dough. I wanted to see if the dough would look different with food coloring, so I used food coloring for the blue and it really didn't look any different. The kool-aid smells really good, so make sure you tell your kids not to eat the play dough! My favorite was the orange; it smelled amazing and made me want to drink a glass of Tang! 

This was a fun little project and you probably have the ingredients in your kitchen already! 
Have you ever made your own play dough? 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Salsa, Dominoes and Family

I'm a little late on blogging this week. Albert and I went to my hometown and spent 3 full days at my parents house, so I was playing catch up on housework and fishing lure orders! I enjoy going to see my parents so much and the icing on the cake is that my best bud also lives there and I get to see her and her precious family. We hitched a ride with my nephew and his girlfriend; they just moved back from Tennessee, so it was great to catch up with them. I got to spend time with a lot of family this weekend, and see people I haven't seen in a long time. There's something refreshing about spending time with family. I can't even tell you how many games of dominoes we played or why we laughed so much, but it was nice to sit around a table with some of my faves. and just laugh.


My mom whipped up some delicious salsa, my niece helped make dinner and I popped open the wine. That's my kind of co-op!

I also got to go visit my bff and her sweet kiddos. They recently visited Lego Land and Disneyland, and her oldest son JJ, was telling me all about it. He remembered everything...I mean, everything. He remembered that name of one of the restaurants and that the name was spelled incorrectly...he's 7. It was so cute, because he's usually so chill and quiet, but he was just bouncing around telling me about it all and recommending rides that Albert might like.  Then to top it off, he wrestled around with Albert, which made him the happiest 2 year old in the world. JJ has no clue, but Albert always talks about how they're friends and he wants to be a big boy like him. JJ mentioned that he doesn't like Sponge Bob and Albert has brought it up everyday since then. 
We also got to spend time with this gorgeous baby:

Albert got to spend time "working" in the garage, sipping on root beer with his papa and I got to enjoy my nieces, nephews and wine with my mom and best friend. The only thing missing was Cass, she was off supporting our family and missing out on the fun. 

I'm thankful for my family, the one I was born in to, but also the people who have become family. I had multiple moments where I thought, "this is the highlight of my trip." 

To Top it off, Cass took me out to see Maleficent and dinner when I got back. We had a blast!

I LOVED Maleficent. Did you see it? What did you think?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Create your own snack caddy

Good Morning! I'm feeling a little chipper this morning...I got up at 5 am to go for a run with my buddy. As I sat on the couch to put my shoes on I realized that it was so quiet, I could hear the clock ticking. On top of that, the house was clean, like really clean! I was so tempted to grab a book, open the blinds and enjoy every second of my quiet, clean house. Don't worry, I didn't do that. I got my lazy keister up and went for a run jog. I don't know what I'm happier about: the cool morning air, the release of endorphins, or the fact that I went for a jog, showered and am enjoying a cup of coffee while Albert and Cass are still asleep! YAY! I love my little family, but I recently realized that I don't have a lot of alone time. Well, I almost never have alone time. I am a stay at home mom, so every errand I run, every moment of every day I spend with my little man right by my side. I'm not complaining, by any means, I just realized this a few days ago. I had some free time, and I spent it cleaning out the cupboards and deep cleaning my house...and I enjoyed it! Anyways, while I was cleaning out the cupboards I realized that all of the dang boxes were taking up room in our very limited space so I decided to make a snack caddie. My sis had given us an art caddy for our birthdays and it was so awesome. It was mason jars filled with crayons, glue sticks, pencils and safety scissors. I keep this out and we use it often, however I thought it would be a little more functional as a snack caddy. Here's what I put in it. Marshmallows: Albert loves these things and they are one of his favorite treats! He gets them when I want to reward or thank him for helping me or being a good boy. Graham Crackers: One of Albert's favorite snacks. Sometimes I put peanut butter on top, but he loves to eat them plain too. Fruit Snacks: My sis-n-law just gave us an economy size box of Mickey Mouse fruit snacks. Albert would eat them all day long if I'd let him. Chocolate Stars: These are essentially chocolate graham crackers shaped as stars. I usually buy the honey ones, but Albert caught me in the right mood so I let him get the chocolate ones.
Also, not all of my snacks fit in the jars, so with the small amount I had left over, I made to go snacks for Albert.

Goldfish would also be great, I just didn't have enough to fill the mason jar, so I made a to go snack for Albert with them. 
I also put all of my tea bags in jars to save me a little room. Is it just me or does everything look better in mason jars?

As you can see, I'm constantly trying to find new things that I can put in a jar to save me some room and add a little eye candy to my shelves. (That's right, I referred to jars as eye candy).

Do you have any other snack ideas for a snack caddy or to go snacks? I'd love to switch up the snacks when they run out. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

7 Father's Day gifts for the Blue Collar Dad

 My dad is not the dad that I can buy a tie for...or golfing stuff...or most of the things that are suggested for Father's Day. My dad wears a uniform to work everyday, so ties, tie pins or cufflinks are out of the question.  I've put together a little list of things that I can buy my "hard to shop for dad" that he will actually enjoy.

1.) Growler of beer. Seriously, this is what I got my brother for Christmas and a great gift for anyone who enjoys having a good brewski. You can get it filled with a good beer and once it's gone, he can get it refilled for cheap. Plus, there are so many out there that you can get a personalized one with his name, papa, dad, etc...or you can paint it with chalkboard paint and write something clever on it. There are a wide variety of growlers on Etsy, but it may be cheaper to get one locally and get it filled all in one shot. Check out your local breweries to see what is the best fit for your pop.

2.) Garage decor. Sounds fancier than it is. I made my dad a sign, from old corrugated tin and spray paint. It says Papa's garage and he loved it. Also, my dad hangs license plates in his garage so that is another easy gift for us to get him. Check out your local thrift shops for license plates, beer related lights, mirrors or whatever it is he likes. My dad is in his garage everyday and will actually see it everyday as opposed to something he will put on a shelf and forget about.

3.) Fishing equipment. My dad is not in to sports, but he loves to hunt and fish. Of course, I think these fishing lures are an essential part of every tackle box!  When I was little I know my dad would've loved a card and a can of worms, because it would mean we wanted  to go fishing with him. There are a lot of fun fishing accessories out there, or you can even get him a new fishing pole! I have a lot of requests for soda bottle cap lures around Father's Day because of childhood traditions. My dad used to buy us candy before we went out fishing, he says he was bribing us, but I think he just liked to spoil us a little. Is there a certain beer or soda that your pops always takes when he's fishing?

4.)Hats. My dad always wears a hat and it's never a sports cap, unless it's for the local high school team. Did I mention my dad doesn't like sports much? He does however love wearing hats. He has hats for National Parks he's visited, for hunting and fishing shops, and various camo ones. I bet he's got over 20 hats, does he need a new one? No, but he'd love one just the same. Plus, it's fun for me to pick one out and then see him wearing it the next time I see him.

This is my dad, my dad in a hat...sounds like a Dr. Seuss book.

5.) Okay, I'll admit this is not the typical gift for the blue collar dad, but I know my Pop would like it...personalized coffee mug with grandchildrens' pictures on it. My sis made us all one for Christmas a few years ago and then I made Cass a travel coffee mug with Mr. A's pictures for her birthday. If your Pop drinks coffee then he will proudly show off hisgrand kids. You can easily order them online from Walmart, Walgreens or Snapfish.
As you can see, we have a few of these mugs.

6.) My dad drinks iced tea every day. He also eats cookies every single day. My easy to please dad would love a gift that has his favorite cookies, a box of tea and some other misc. things like a wrench, pressure gauge for tires, new gloves, perhaps some kind of accessory for his quad...there is so much room for creativity.

7.) A good Card. If you have kids you already know that being a grandpa is one of his favorite things in the world. Have the kids make him a homemade card and put it in the mail to him, or even better deliver it in person. I'm not sentimental with my Pops very often, but I like to tell him I adore him on occasion, and this is the perfect time! Find or make a good card for him and tell him how you admire his hat collection. ;)

I hope this post has been helpful. Is there anything else you can think of that your dad would love?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Love is an action verb

*Mushy Alert*

I love, love. Yep, I'm one of those mushy people who loves to watch romantic comedies even though I know they're unrealistic. I love to watch those videos where soldiers are reunited with their families and I cry every time...even if they're being reunited with their dog. I am fully aware of how ridiculous I am, so at least I'm not delusional.

In the past I have hesitated to write about my relationship on this blog, mostly because I  fear judgement of other bloggers, but that's no way to live or blog. So, I'm giving a shout out (blog out?) to my lady! I am so proud of the person I get to call my girlfriend, the woman I get to build a home and a family with, my best friend.

This girl, right here:

You see, Cass is not only beautiful, she is strong. Shes emotionally and physically strong. No joke, she is pouring cement as I type! Her strength has inspired me to try things I wouldn't normally do, like tackle the oleanders in our backyard. 
She is extremely patient...when it counts. A little over a year ago, I would've said she needed more patience. However, having a kid has helped me see that she may not have the most patience for little things, like waiting for a gas pump, but she has tons of patience with Albert & me and that's where it counts. She is patient when I'm grumpy or frazzled and she has tons of patience when Albert does things at his own pace. She's a wonderful mom and Albert is crazy about her! 

Last, but not least, she is one of the hardest workers I know. This is the second week in a row that she has picked up side jobs on her days off. Remember how I said she's pouring cement; yeah it's her day off and its hot outside. She works hard for her money! Check out this sidewalk art (okay she just painted it) that she did last week! 

She shows us she loves us everyday. She doesn't just say it or talk about it, she shows us. She works hard and on top of that she shows us patience, while inspiring and encouraging me to be better. I couldn't ask for more. My wine-stein runneth over.

I warned you this would be mushy.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

5 Tips for Camping Fun!

We go camping every year for Cassandra's birthday and Mexican Mother's Day. I believe the tradition started when Cass was little and that was what her mom wanted for Mother's Day, so off they would go every year to the same camp grounds and spend about 4 days. This is only my 3rd year being of part of this tradition, and I love it! When her family camps, they camp in style, with a Cabelas set up kitchen, shower/bathroom tent, pop up ramada over the picnic table and 2 people per 8-10 man tent.  Seriously, we have people stop by and comment on how nice the set up is and ask how long we've been camping. We always have a blast and sit by the creek and fish as much as possible. So, here are the few camping tips I've  learned in the past three years.

1.) Styrofoam will keep your buns toasty. Cassandra's dad always takes rectangular Styrofoam pieces that he cuts in half long ways and duct tapes to the concrete picnic tables. This is GENIUS...not only does it add a bit of comfort, it also keeps your bottom really warm when it is super cold and the concrete is even colder. Seriously, I would highly encourage you to give it a try. You can get Styrofoam at Lowes or The Home Depot for $5.00, you may need 2 to cover the benches, but it will be worth the $10.00!

2.) When you camp, everybody pitches in. Cassandras parents said it a few times, "when we camp, everybody works." Truth be told, I napped the first 2 days, and they were glorious naps...however, I also helped cook, wash the dishes and put food away at night. Let's face it, there's not a lot of cleaning to do when camping, but nobody should have to do all of the cooking or washing. Also, this makes set up and take down go by much faster. I was not looking forward to packing up at the end of our trip, but it went by quickly and smoothly because we all pitched in. Even Albert packed up his toys.

3.)Socks. You cannot take too many pairs of socks camping. Even if it's hot they may get wet in the creek, or full of sand or whatever else can happen to socks. We happened to camp during a cold front and we doubled up on socks while Mr. A usually had 3 pair on. I'm a desert rat so I don't like being cold as it is, but when my feet are freezing it's just horrible. 

4.) Don't forget the games. We did. We still had a lot of fun, but I was really looking forward to playing dominoes. I guess I was too focused on packing enough socks, that I forgot the dominoes.

5.) Smores are a must! Here's my secret. I like to place the chocolate on the graham crackers and place them near the fire (usually there's a ledge or a little grill) and let the chocolate get melty while I toast the mallows. So yum. 

We love to fish and Cass makes her own bait by mixing cheddar cheese with garlic powder and little bit of flour to bind it. The trout loved it. We were also told by a little boy that he uses corn and tosses a hand full in right after he casts. We saw a guy doing it and he was reeling them in! We had fresh trout for lunch one of the days and mmm mmm it was delish!

Summer is here and it is always good to reconnect with nature, so get out there and enjoy the great outdoors. Remember to clean up after yourselves and give your left over firewood and Styrofoam padding to your camping neighbors.

Time for my shameless plug: 

These fishing lures are handmade and flat out awesome! They make a great addition to your tackle box or a great gift for Father's Day which is just around the corner. You can order them here.
I take special orders and try to accommodate your bottle cap requests. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Adoption Day

The day we have been waiting for has finally come! We have officially adopted little Mr. A! I can't explain how nervous and excited we were that morning and the days leading up to his adoption! I just wanted it to be perfect for him and us and it was!

The adoption took place first thing in the morning, so of course, we were up early and still running late. Walking in to the court house I was a nervous wreck; most of our family was already there waiting and it was just so wonderful to walk through the doors and see our family and our case workers who have been on this journey with us. We sat in a waiting area until it was our turn and it was so fun to see Albert run from person to person giving hugs and just being his happy little self. He loves Superman right now, so I had told him that he was getting adopted just like Superman...he loved it and he told everybody!

In the state of AZ, we are not allowed to legally adopt as a couple, so the adoption was under Cassandra's name only. I knew going in that they would ask Cass questions, the judge would sign off and then the adoption would be completed. Well, when we got in the room our attorney told me that I can sit up in front with Cass and Albert, which made me very happy. The judge then asks us who we are and when I said "co-parent" she smiled and said "Albert's other mom." You have to understand that we didn't know who the judge was going to be or how it would be received that we are two women raising a child together, so her immediate warmth was unexpected and wonderful! The attorney asked Cass the questions, and then turned to me and asked me the same questions. Again, unexpected, but so very wonderful. The attorney included me in the entire process as if we were both legally adopting and the judge not only included me, but our  family as she asked them to introduce themselves and how they know Albert. The entire ceremony was even better than I could have imagined it. At the end of it all, we went up to take pictures with the judge and she gave Albert a medal because "Adopted kids are extra special." 

Afterwards we went to Albert's favorite spot, Peter Piper Pizza, to celebrate. Our whole entourage went with us and we had time to chat and hang out. We then went home to relax and nap before our BBQ that night. Cassandra's dad really out did himself this time, we had so much delicious food and I didn't have to raise a finger. Our friends who couldn't make it to the adoption came over to celebrate and of course Albert's buddies from next door came over to play. The day was wonderful and more than I could've asked for.

We are so blessed, by our little boy, but also by the people in our lives. We had so many people go out of their way to spend the day with us and it means more than they can imagine. 

I have to leave you with this last picture which was taken at the end of the night when Superman was tired...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bad as you wanna be

So, I recently watched a show on the DIY network called Rehab Addict...if you have never seen it, you should! Basically, there's a lady named Nicole Curtis who buys historic homes and restores them. However, she's a total bad ass who does a lot of the work herself (or at least demonstrates how to do it), has handy dandy little tricks that make the work easier, and still manages to be pretty and girly. I was watching the show thinking that she's really nailed it and that I really need to start learning how to do more handy stuff. Well, lo and behold we got a visit from the City of Phoenix saying that the Oleanders in our backyard needed to be trimmed back and within a weeks time. I decided that I can tackle this just as well as Cass and I have more time, so I started the project. It took me close to 2 hours and I felt great! I, too, am a bad ass woman who gets things done! However, I WASN'T done. The oleanders in our back yard are huge and line the back fence so this was a big task, and I had just cleaned up the sides and pulled a lot of the dead branches out. I was so proud of what I had accomplished and got back out there to finish the job a few days later. But the meaning of this whole story is that it feels to good to feel like a bad ass and everyone needs to feel that way every now and then! Dennis Rodman had it right, I am as Bad as I wanna be, just maybe in a different sense than what he meant. :) Go out and conquer something that reminds you that you're a total bad ass, whether its doing yard work, running or taking down a pile of laundry.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

My Hometown

We've spent the last two weekends in my hometown, Ajo. When I tell people I come from a small town they usually ask "which one?" which is quickly followed by "where's that" or "on the way to Mexico?" Ajo is a  little gem, tucked in the Sonoran desert, that a lot of Arizonans just don't know about. I can give you an exhaustive history of Ajo and how it came to be but unless you're a history buff you probably don't want to read all of that, so I'm going to post pictures and tell you why I love it.

1. Because it's home. My parents home is just so comfortable and when we're there we spend a lot of time outside.

2. The People. Awesome people. 

3. It's gorgeous. Ajo has a lot of houses that need work and unfortunately that is what a lot of people see when they pass through, but Ajo really is quite beautiful.

Not to mention the gorgeous churches that surround a beautiful plaza. I will have to post pictures of that at another time...perhaps when we go down for the Ajo Reunion.

4. When we are in Ajo we get to be a part of stuff like this:

5. This awesome open pit mine. 

My hometown has a special place in my heart and its great to see how much Cassandra and Mr. A have fallen in love with it too.  People from Ajo have a lot of pride in our small little town and that is one of the other things I love about this place.