26 February 2014

Homemade Sloppy Joes (Lightened up!)

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Several months ago, I got this silly notion that somehow, childhood would NOT be complete without the introduction of the iconic American Sloppy Joe. I told you, silly. Apparently, I recollected some fond memories of sweet meat on soft buns, messy smiling faces, and lots o’ napkins. 
I admit it. On an impulse buy at the grocery store, I picked up a can of that Manwich stuff and well, apparently, decided the time had come. I’m not ashamed to say that I whipped it up that night and darn if kids will be kids. The girls absolutely loved it! What’s not to love, right? After all, the name itself promises to be sloppy. And for kids… sloppy equals fun!
My hubby ate the Manwich meal, but let’s just say he wasn’t as impressed as the girls. Maybe his grown up palate knew the canned stuff was actually pretty lame? Let me save you the trouble (incase you too have some silly notions about childhood and sloppy joes and decide to make an impulse buy at the grocery store). The stuff in the can is filled with watered down tomato base, high fructose corn syrup and lots of different gums (used as a thickener). Now, as long as you’re not eating this stuff everyday, I don’t think it’s going to kill you or anything.  
Fast forward many months and now it’s 5 o’clock on a weeknight. I left out a package of ground turkey to defrost but the day got away from me and I didn’t have a chance to do anything with it. Sound familiar? OK, maybe that’s just me.
Well, have no fear. Pioneer Woman to the rescue!
I remember seeing an episode where she made homemade Sloppy Joes so I filed that away in my brain and quickly got online to find her recipe. 
Enter Sloppy Joe dinner… Take 2!!
sloppy mix
Turns out it is SO EASY! The whole thing came together in about 20 minutes and I had all the ingredients on hand! I bet you do, too. And, you can feel good about this one because you can pronounce all the ingredients you put into it.
The girls loved it once again and raved, “Mama is the best cook in all the land!” Lol!!
And this time around, Morgan ate TWO sandwiches and said, “This is WAY better than that canned stuff.” ;)
Here’s my lightened up version…
Homemade Sloppy Joes
(Serves 4-5)
  • 1.25 pounds Ground Turkey (or Beef)
  • 1/2 whole Large Onion, Diced
  • 1/2 whole Large Green Bell Pepper, Diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 cup Ketchup
  • 1- 2 cups chicken stock or water (depends how thick you like your meat sauce)
  • 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder (more To Taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dry Mustard
  • a few dashes of Worcestershire Sauce, To Taste
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • Tabasco Sauce (optional; To Taste)
  • Salt & Pepper, To Taste
  • Toasted Rolls (I used hoagie rolls but any roll or bun would do)
Preparation Instructions
Cook ground meat in a large skillet or pot with salt and pepper until brown. If using beef, then drain the fat and discard.
Add onions, green pepper, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, or until vegetables begin to get soft.
Add ketchup, brown sugar, chili pepper, dry mustard, and chicken stock or water. Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Also add tomato paste, Worcestershire, and Tabasco if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Toast rolls in the broiler. Spoon meat mixture over the rolls. Serve hot with lots o’ napkins or wipes.
We had fresh corn on the cob and a raw veggie plate on the side. Delish!
Go ahead. You know you want to. Your childhood is calling! 
photos via Pioneer Woman

Strawberry Cake Cookies

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Cookies in her favorite color… PINK!!

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A couple of weeks ago, we made these pink Strawberry Cake Cookies. They were the perfect festive treat for Valentine’s week. We enjoyed some with our tea and shared the rest with our neighbors.
Baking is definitely not my forte but these were a synch to make. They turned out soft, moist and not too sweet but definitely sweet enough. As most cookies are, they were fantastic warm, right out of the oven!
Strawberry Cake Cookies
(via Not Consumed)
  • 1 box of strawberry cake mix (or red velvet, if you prefer)
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • powdered sugar
  1. Mix cream cheese and butter until well blended. Beat in the egg. Add vanilla and cake mix. Cover and chill in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Roll into balls, then roll in powdered sugar. Place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.
They will be soft. Don't worry. That's what makes them good!
I’m also thinking these would be super yummy using a lemon cake mix and fresh lemon zest!

24 February 2014

Sandy Shoe Church BBQ


By God’s grace and favor, our church has acquired some new property to build upon… twenty acres to be exact!

We recently closed escrow on the land and celebrated by having a church barbeque on the new site.

We were told by our pastor, “Wear comfy shoes and do NOT wash your car this week.” :) 


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The new land is on an old Palm Garden & Nursery.


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We were encouraged to walk the entire property and pray over what God might build and bring to this oasis. 


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Sweet sisters.


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Edward, our worship leader is so good with the kids. He gave them an opportunity to sing worship songs and it was Ellie’s first time picking up the mic and singing for us!


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The kids had an absolute blast today! They got the freedom to explore the grounds and have a ball. All they needed for fun was sticks, dirt, and a little imagination.

Our church body is growing by leaps and bounds and it was so fun to see everyone come together to celebrate what God is doing. 

We are so grateful to be a part of a loving church family that uncompromisingly teaches the Living Word of God!

Exciting stuff!!

22 February 2014

Taekwondo & Korean Festival












After our morning at Born to Walk, we learned there was a Korean Festival taking place at another local park so we decided to make a quick stop and check that out as well. So far, after living here for more than 7 years, we had never heard of such an event so we didn’t want to miss this opportunity!

We enjoyed traditional Korean dancers, taekwondo demonstrations, and of course, Korean food.

A good time was had by all!    

Born to Walk


In support for the Refuge Pregnancy Center, we participated in their annual fundraiser, Born to Walk at the beautiful La Quinta Civic Center Park on this gorgeous February morning.



We were thrilled to support this God honoring ministry.






Walking around the scenic lake.



So picturesque!





The finish line!



Fun and games for the kiddos.



A cute picture of Grace chatting with her voice teacher, Miss Hannah.



Grace was given yet another wonderful opportunity to sing in front of an audience this weekend. Here she is getting introduced.



She sang “Amazing Grace”, a duet with Miss Hannah.



They sounded so sweet together! Awesome job!!



Grace with her lovely and talented voice teacher. We are so blessed to have her!



So proud of this little girl.

A fantastic morning all the way around!

“Give us the grace—when the sacredness of life is attacked before birth, to stand up and proclaim that no one ever has the authority to destroy unborn life.” ~Pope John Paul II

20 February 2014

And so it begins!

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The PPP’s…

(Aka the Party Planning Preparations!!).

Our lovelies are about to embark on another year of life. Can it be that EIGHT is right around the corner?! Time does not slow down for this mama. Oh, but what a joy it is to see our girls blossom into who God is creating them to be. They are such a gift to me!!  


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We decided to celebrate this year with a party!! One, because I am able and we have the time. Two, because we didn’t have one last year. And three, it will serve as not only a birthday party for our dynamic duo, but also, sort of as a housewarming. All good reasons to party in my book! 

The girls are a big help in so many ways now and I think they are enjoying the PPP’s as much as I am! My goal is to keep it simple yet Lord willing, it will be special, fun, and beautiful… just like them!!

We think we have a theme picked out and I am happy to oblige. Thanks to Pinterest, I’m having fun learning how to craft some pieces that we’ll use as d├ęcor for the party. It’s been a sweet time with my girls as we craft together and learn new things. Great memories, already!

Hooray for springtime parties, longer warm days, and the precious gift of celebrating life!!

18 February 2014

Congratulations, Grace!

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My shy little one has been taking voice lessons for just a month now so I was surprised when she said she wanted to enter her first voice competition at the Date Festival. I mentioned it to her, only because my girlfriend told me about it and shared that it was a good experience for novice singers.       I honestly did not think she would want to do it.

She said she would pray about it and get back to me. Well, a week passed and I actually forgot about it. Then Little Miss told me she wanted to do it!

Bless her heart, she had 11 days to practice and 7 verses to memorize (and memorization does not usually come easy for her). Our advice: have fun, sing for the Lord, and do your best. We would be proud of her no matter what.

Ok, confession time: I actually didn’t tell her it was a competition until just 2 days before. Up until then, she thought it was just a performance. Well again, to my surprise, instead of making her more nervous, it made her more excited! She asked if there were going to be ribbons.

Here’s how it went down:

Grace: Oh, mommy, do you think they will give out ribbons?

Me: I’m not sure, honey.

Grace: If they have ribbons, what color do you think they’ll be?

Me: Usually they’re blue, red, and white.

Grace: Oh, I’ve always wanted a red ribbon!!

Well, GOD IS SO GOOD because Grace not only received a RED ribbon, she won 3rd place, a white ribbon, her first trophy, and $50 bucks!!










She’s beaming!!





Lots of encouragement from her best sister!







Her friend, Elizabeth also did fantastic in her own competitive division.



Now, it was time to relax and enjoy the fair!













LOL!! This picture cracks me up!!





What a day!! From top to bottom, it was definitely one to remember. 

Proudest Parent Moment of the Day: We noticed, right before Grace went on stage she was talking to the contestant next to her (an 8 year old girl). We then saw her give the girl a hug. When we asked her about it later, she told us the girl said she was very nervous. To which Grace replied, “I’m nervous too but I’m sure you’ll do great.” Then she gave her a hug. In the midst of her own nerves and finding the courage to sing and perform in front of judges and a crowd, our little girl took the time to encourage another little soul.

That girl went on to win 2nd place.:)

We couldn’t be more proud of you, Grace! 

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