Thursday, May 30, 2013

10 Years and Counting...

Tomorrow my hubby and I will celebrate ten years of marriage, fifteen years together total. Wow. When I look at my life, my home, and my two beautiful children, I have a hard time finding words to describe how I feel about all we've achieved together. Lucky? Blessed? Overjoyed? It has been a work in progress but I can honestly say I am happier now at this point in our lives than ever before. Having children has enriched our lives beyond words and our relationship has only grown, strengthened and solidified over time. We've gotten far past any jealousies, insecurities or petty concerns that might fuel arguments in those first years of marriage. We know each other in a way that nobody else does and have a trust, friendship and bond that's incomparable. I believe the Lord put Mike in my life during a time when I needed him the most, those tumultuous teenage years! He was a steady rock then and continues to be a comforting presence whenever I need him most. He keeps me grounded with his level-headed approach to problems and gives me a sense of accomplishment for all I do as a wife and mother, constantly affirming my role in his life. Without being too cheesy, I think the words from "Come What May", our first song at our wedding, continue to say it best..."Never knew I could feel like this, like I've never seen the sky before. Want to vanish inside your kiss, every day I love you more and more." And I do. Really! Every day is better than the last. I continue to see the best in my goofball of a partner, never taking for granted what we've built over time and what the Lord has so richly blessed. So over a romantic dinner, we plan to celebrate, reminisce, and plan for the next ten! I can't wait to see what's in store.
What's your love story?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Coconut Cream (or Dream...) Cake

I found this Coconut Cream Cake recipe on Pinterest and just HAD to try it. I adore all things coconut and had never made a cake with this feature flavor, believe it or not. It's super simple as it starts with a boxed cake mix. It's similar to a tres leches cake as it's super moist and flavorful throughout. Here's the recipe and if you are an Almond Joy lover like myself, you've got to give it a try!

1 white cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup milk
1 pkg. vanilla pudding mix (just the powder, do not make the pudding)
7 oz. coconut milk (can be found in the Asian food aisle...took me some help to find!)
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 tub whipped topping
1 cup coconut, plus more to garnish

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and prepare cake mix, pouring into a 9X13 pan and baking about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Once cake is cooled, mix the sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk and, after poking holes in cake with fork, pour over top. (You'll only need half the can of both so I froze the rest for another cake..) Allow to cool in fridge about an hour then top with the whipped topping mixed with 1 cup coconut. Then, if you really want to get fancy, toast a little extra coconut to sprinkle over the top. Enjoy!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!

I hope you all enjoy your day off and have a wonderful time with family, friends and hopefully, some good grub! Let's not forget what this day is about..remembering the brave men and women who tirelessly defend our country and freedom. Happy Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Holla for Challah

I was thumbing through a cookbook the other day when a recipe for challah bread caught my eye. I enjoy making bread but not wanting to deal with a fussy recipe, I tweaked it a bit to work for me. Challah bread is different than any bread I've made in that it has eggs. The eggs lend for a dense, rich texture and subtly sweet taste. Braided and topped with poppy seeds, it makes for such a stunning start to any meal. And the smell? You just can't beat the smell of freshly baked bread! If you've never tried making bread, this is easy, I promise.

Challah Bread
3 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for kneading
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten (3 if you want an egg wash over the top..I skipped this step.)
poppy seeds, for top

Mix warm water and yeast in a mixing bowl then prepare dough by adding the remaining ingredients and mix well. Allow to rise for at least an hour. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Then, working in two batches, braid the dough on a floured surface then transfer to a baking sheet. Sprinkle poppy seeds over the top and bake for about thirty-five minutes or until golden brown. Serve with lots of butter and jam.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My Menu This Week

Coming off a Pinterest bender, I've found some recipes that are sure to shake dinner up! I have been so tired of my usual chicken recipes so it was time for something new. Here's my menu for the week, maybe it will inspire you to try something new too!

Tuesday: BBQ...going to make some burgers on the grill with fresh corn on the cob (wrapped in foil with butter and salt...mmmm!)
Wednesday: Chicken bacon ranch pasta- bite-sized chicken breast with a can of Italian style tomatoes, a little milk, garlic and a ranch dressing packet served over pasta, topped with crunchy bacon.
Thursday: Crock-Pot pork tenderloin (Pork tenderloin and BBQ sauce..that's it!) served with my favorite Hawaiian rolls and fruit salad.
Friday: Lean ground turkey tacos with all the fixins'.
Saturday: Crock-Pot baked potato bar...wrap potatoes with foil and place in slow cooker for 4-6 hours! Serve with chili, sour cream, cheese, broccoli..etc. You can always microwave them...two potatoes take about 15 minutes on high..
Sunday: Dinner out!
What are you cooking this week?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Another Day in Paradise...

So everyone lets their children play out back in water naked, right?? No? Maybe it's just me but lately, as the weather has warmed, I've needed to come up with yet another creative way to keep my kids busy, cool and happy! So it was time to drag out the pirate water table and get going. Being practical, I don't like the idea of them getting their clothes soaked or having to change in and out of swimsuits for sometimes ten minutes of fun so...naked they go! Day after day, I fill the table with clean water, they have their fun, splashing each other and me. Then they dig in the dirt and make a muddy mess and inevitably there are watery, muddy footprints in the house after all is said and done. But they have fun, cool off and share plenty of giggles. Definitely worth the mess!
What do you do to keep your kids busy in the heat?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Cinnamon Rolls: Take Two

Recently I decided a good batch of cinnamon rolls was in order for a yummy Sunday morning breakfast. After looking over several recipes, I decided to make a version by the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. You just can't go wrong with her simple, decadent recipes! I've tried many and have never been disappointed. After realizing the dough would be more time-consuming than I thought, I chose to make the rolls the night before and heat them in the morning, saving us precious time while rushing for church. This recipe yields enough dough for about eight large (and I mean large!) cinnamon rolls, sixteen if you don't halve the recipe like I did. Don't make the same mistake I did by underestimating how much the dough would rise and choose a too-small pan. I had to finagle the rolls in the middle and switch to a larger pan, creating a mess and not-so-pretty rolls but in the end?? They tasted mighty good and I plan to do this again soon. Oh, and my hubby and I couldn't even wait until the morning to try them. We wolfed a couple straight out of the oven! Here's my recipe, adapted only slightly, from Ree's. Next up? I plan to tackle her donuts!

Cinnamon Roll Dough, halved:
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup oil
1 pkg. active dry yeast
4 cups flour, plus extra for rolling dough
1/2 tspn. baking powder
1/2 tspn. baking soda
1/2 tbspn. salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 stick melted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbspns. milk, more if needed to thin out

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the milk and oil over low heat until just warmed. Sprinkle yeast over the surface and let sit for a minute. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Allow to rise for about an hour, or until doubled. Roll out on a floured surface until about 1/2 inch thick. Spread with the melted butter, cinnamon and sugar. Roll into one large piece and then slice. Place in baking dish and allow to double once again, another hour or so. Then bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Glaze immediately and serve warm. Enjoy!!

I made this!! Soooo good!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Note for Mom

Motherhood is hard. Ask any mom and unless they have a live-in nanny, I'm sure they will agree! Between the demands of little ones, chores, errands, cooking and keeping a marriage alive, it can be overwhelming, to say the least. I joke (kind of) that the best part of the day is when my kids are in bed! But then again, the next best part is when they awaken and come snuggle with me in the wee hours of the morning. I live for those moments. I'm sure motherhood has it's own set of challenges as kids grow and move away, but for now I'm in the trenches of the little years. Wake up, eat, get dressed, play, bath, bed. Repeat. And repeat again. Half the time, I feel like I'm stuck in the movie Groundhog's Day with no rest in sight. But then I get a sticky kiss, or a cuddle or an "I love you, Mommy" out of the blue and I suddenly remember why I decided to have kids in the first place. The unconditional love, pride and the fierce protection I have over their little lives are priceless. It's not an easy job, but it's the best one. I now appreciate my own mom in ways I never could have before. How did she handle my tantrums? Keep it all together with five little ones? I can barely deal with two! Thanks Mom, for your never ending love and encouragement and for always being supportive of me, my life and my family, for talking me down from ledges and for being my first responder when things go haywire. Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mother's Day YOUR Way!

I don't know about you, but come Mother's Day, I have hopes of flowers and cards, sleeping in and breakfast in bed. The reality? We are still rushing for church, I gotta lend a hand in getting the little ones ready and breakfast is still donuts in the car. Not that I go unappreciated but the day always feels a little too much like every other day. I say I would like to spend the day at the spa, having brunch and going shopping but when it comes down to it, I really want to be with my kids and so we do something they would enjoy too like bowling or Chuck E Cheese's. Yes, my hubby takes the kids on a Target run and is always sure to make me feel special, but I fail to do the same for myself.
This year, I've decided to take Mother's Day back and ditch the guilt of (gasp!) doing something I want to do on a day that is, after all, supposed to be about me! So I've got visions of lunch out (my choice!), a nice romp at the park with the kiddos and then I plan to ditch 'em for a bit and do something completely indulgent. I'm thinking something along the lines of a pedicure or hitting Barnes and Noble to browse and sip on an iced coffee or just going shopping...alone! I think I deserve a day off. How about buying yourself a gift for once? Here are a few things I intend to check out:
- Sandals at Target are on sale for $12!! They are so cute and I'm ready for a pair to slip on for summer!
- Bath and Body Works has a Buy 3, Get 2 Free sale...what a great time to stock up on your favorites!
- Yankee Candle is having a sale one, get one half off. These are my absolute favorite and while they are a splurge, they are the best!
- Old Navy is having an online sale right now...20% off at checkout with the code ONSAVE20 and free shipping when you spend over $50. I may or may not have taken advantage of this deal at 3 am the other night!!
How about you??? Do your hubby and kids pull out all the stops? Do you feel too guilty to enjoy the day??

Friday, May 3, 2013

Rancho Las Palmas: A Review

The time had come for the Beebe family to get away and last weekend we did. My hubby works really hard, so hard that we often sacrifice time as a family for the sake of his projects. But when the time comes to play? We play hard! Since before we were married, Palm Springs has been our stomping grounds, the trip we made a couple times a year. It's close enough to be super convenient and easy on the wallet but far enough away to feel like we are actually escaping. We've tried many different hotels and resorts over the years but now that we have kids, we have different considerations to make. We have to make sure there is fun, food and plenty of entertainment. Normally, a dip in the pool, dinner out and a movie does the trick. But when I stumbled upon the Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa, I knew I'd hit the jackpot! For just $209 per night (depending on the time of year..), we were treated to an oasis in the desert. 
Upon arrival, where we were greeted by the valet and given early check-in, we headed to our room. Surrounded by lush grounds, our Spanish style room felt hidden away despite being tucked amid 444 guest rooms. Our room had a beautiful view of the golf course and was complete with bathrobes, a mini bar and luxurious toiletries. We dropped our stuff off, changed into swimsuits and headed out to the pool where our reserved cabana was waiting for us. Being that we were only staying a night, we wanted to splurge on the cabana and enjoy all the pool area had to offer. There was a splash pad for kids, a lazy river, a beach area for digging in the sand and water slides. Needless to say, we planned to be there all day so the cabana ended up being worth it. It was complete with lounge chairs, a table and a server who kept us stocked with water, fruit and towels. We stayed the whole day, ordering lunch from the Splash Grill and heading out only when our kids were good and tired. 
Next up? Dinner. We headed across the street to The River, a  shopping center with plenty of food options and a movie theater. We settled for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory then headed over to Ben & Jerry's for dessert. The kids crashed by eight and mommy and daddy were able to enjoy a little tv and leftovers before calling it a night. The next day, after our kids slept in from the long day before, we took the short stroll down to the Palms Cafe for a couple coffee drinks and pastries before heading back to the pool. Although checkout was noon, we could have stayed at the pool all day again if we wanted. We chose to spend just a couple more hours in the sun before taking off. Lunch at Mic and Moe's, a diner-style restaurant with offerings such as burgers, pastrami and hot dogs, and we were on our way. This trip not only recharged our batteries and allowed for precious time together as a family, but gave my hubby and me some time to relax while the kids played. For the first time since having kids, we were able to just sit and watch them dig in the sand and play. We will go back the next chance we get...I'm already checking out rates for next month!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day

Happy May!! I've been looking forward to this month for a while for two reasons: Mother's Day and my 10-year anniversary with my hubby!! Both are causes to celebrate and I can't wait to. They say "April showers bring May flowers" so we'll see if that's true. I am looking forward to some blue skies, warm days, swimming with my kids and having a fun summer to come! It's my last before my little one heads off to school so follow me as I spend this month offering new ideas to keep the kids busy, fun recipes to try and a few tips and tricks to staying fashionable in the warm weather to come!