Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Still alive...

I have come to the realization that I am probably the worst blogger ever. Luckily, I'm busy enough that it doesn't really bother me. :) In the next few weeks, I'll do my "usual" and blog about 15 things and back date them all, but for now I'll share a few InstaGram pics of the latest. 

Since moving to the beach, we have been enjoying a whole set of new activities. One of those being, hitting the zoo for a few hours on the spur of the moment. In Carmel Mountain, we were about 30 minutes from the zoo and if felt like a chore getting there and spending 17 hours walking around the biggest, most hilly zoo on the planet. I know this because I've been to EVERY zoo in the world (naturally). Now we are about 15 minutes from the zoo and we hit it up for 2-3 hours because it's beautiful outside and we don't have anything pressing to do. Gray loves the animals, I love the workout built in by climbing those massive hills pushing G in a stroller. It's a win/win situation. 

We have some plans see some fun new things in San Diego this week but we have been put off by some nasty winter weather (read: 50 degrees outside, intermittent sprinkling rain, windy), but seriously I'm not going outside to walk around in the 'rain,' because I can just wait a day or two rather than be cold-ish and wet-ish while being a tourist. I hope tomorrow is as pretty as today was (the "winter storm" was over by 9am), because I'm dying to get down to the USS Midway and see the new statue! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Elf on the Shelf!

I decided it would be great fun to get Gray an Elf on the Shelf this year. Josh read him the story while I was decorating the tree and "Tippy"the Elf was born. Why Tippy? Josh asked Gray what we should name him, and Tippy was the first name Gray yelled out. I was hoping for something more festive, like Noel or Jingle or Snowflake or Joy or Yule or Carol or Star or Merry or well... anything but Tippy. Gray seemed pretty set on it, so it's officially written in pen in our book. I think we all know once it's in pen, there is no changing it. It's like a tattoo. It is permanent. 

We talked about Tippy a few times, but Gray's mind was BLOWN when he saw Tippy had left him a note with Lucky Charms the first night. Gray talks about Tippy all the time, basically multiple times every day. This elf watching good and bad deeds all day is genius! Every morning he wakes up and looks for him. We have been trying to be creative (thanks Pintrest!) but it's hard to be ultra creative for 30+ days of Tippy movement. I'm curious if we can do the same things next year and get away with it...

Playing Chess
Chatting with Santa
Reading the Very Hungry Caterpillar  
Playing in the toothpaste 
We celebrated Christmas way early (due to traveling), so this date was WAY off. :)  
My personal favorite. Making snowflakes.
Flour angels
Bubble bath time. 
Checking out the Christmas decorations
Flying the CH-53D. 
This was about half of the places Tippy hung out during November/December. The last night that we were home Tippy made a birthday card for Jesus. I loved how involved Gray was this year with Christmas and presents, but he is also beginning to understand things about Jesus thanks to prayers and Sunday School (even if that's not what SoCal calls it). It melts my heart to hear him talk about Jesus being born in a manger and seeing him give gifts to others. I love Christmas. :)

Do you have any Tippy suggestions for next year? Do you have an Elf that you love? 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


It's hard to believe it's already Thanksgiving again, right? It seems like we were just going to be beach and the SD Fair, now it's already November! We decided to stay in San Diego for the holiday and have a few military pals over for lunch. I spent most of the day preparing everything for tomorrow, so no real cooking will be happening in the morning just a lot of putting things in the oven. 

As I type there are three pies cooling on the counter. I'll have to get back to you on how that actually turns out after they are cut and sampled. I've never made a pie before tonight and I'm pretty sure I just invented a scrambled egg pecan pie... I have delusions of grandeur because my mom is maybe the best cook in North America, so after my pecan pie fiasco I think I've been knocked back into reality. The recipe said brown the butter, then add other ingredients. I added eggs first and they started to cook before I could add the other things in, so it was like egg drop pecan pie filling. Like I said, I'll just have to report back about that... 
Happy Thanksgiving from Gray! 
I may not say it enough, but I have so many things to be thankful for and I love having a holiday just to reflect on those things one day every year. I am most thankful for having the most wonderful husband on Earth, a crazy/perfect little boy, fabulous family, amazing friends, good health, a nice home, a warm bed, plenty of food to eat, and a Heavenly Father that loves me more than I can imagine. How can I not be thankful today? Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Paleo Sweet Potato Cottage Pie

Josh and I recently started a new "diet." For anyone who hasn't heard about Paleo, the short version is you eat like a caveman would eat. He wouldn't have had grains, milk, cheese, yogurt, bread, pasta, processed foods, added sugars, juices, etc. He would have had limited amounts of nuts and berries. The things that are on the yes list are basically eggs, any spices, mustard, all meat, fish, shrimp, almost all vegetables, fruit, coconut oil, coconut milk, and some other random things. We did the diet very strictly for several weeks (and as long as you plan what you will be eating it isn't really all that hard) then decided to cheat on the weekends because it is hard to go into a restaurant and be totally Paleo. 

We had pancakes a few Saturdays ago and felt miserable for half of the day. We usually cheat for 2-3 meals on the weekend, that may mean having bread or a beer or some rice. It's a fairly restrictive diet, because anything you would run out of the door with is basically off limits. You shop around the outside edges of the grocery store, so you have no processed foods which are the fast foods to grab. It's restrictive in that you can't eat all the junk that we are all accustomed to eating all the time, but all the foods you are eating are "whole foods" so it's a much healthier way to eat in general. 

I think we will continue to follow it as a lifestyle, but it is too restrictive to completely follow every single day for the rest of our lives. I have modified the diet to suit us by adding milk (I drink a glass every morning and it was probably what I missed the most), corn, and beans back into our meals occasionally. I'm still staying away from processed foods, pasta, bread, yogurt, cheese, etc. I'm still buying applesauce and fruit snacks for Gray, but he eats Paleo meals with us. This diet may sound strange but the food is good and still normal for the most part, just think about a steak and baked sweet potato. That's Paleo! 

Anyway, I like sharing recipes that I cook and enjoy, so this Paleo recipe is no different. I turned to my FaceBook friends a few weeks ago for places to find Paleo recipes. They send me several really good links including I found this recipe for Cottage Pie and had to try it. Cottage Pie has comfort food written all over it! Well I tried it this week, and it was a hit. I tweaked the recipe for flavor using the ingredients listed below. I doubled the meat, used a whole tiny can of tomato paste, more Worcestershire, more garlic, more onion, more sweet potatoes, etc. The recipe was very easy to put together, and I think it would be super easy to modify and add or take things out. I'd like to add more vegetables next time for example. I added all the extras because I doubled the meat, but I would recommend adding the ingredients and when the meat is done, continue to add salt or pepper or tomato paste until you are happy with the flavor. 

Anyway, here is the Sweet Potato Cottage Pie from:

-1 lb ground beef (Paleo people want you to buy organic, grass-fed beef)
-2 medium carrots, finely chopped
-1 large white onion, finely chopped
-1 tbs minced garlic
-1 tbsp tomato paste
-1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
-a small handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped (I omitted this.)
-2 medium sweet potatoes
-1 tbsp mayonnaise 
-1 cup grated cheddar cheese (this isn't Paleo at all, so I only used a small handful).

1. In a large saucepan warm the olive oil over medium-low heat and add the onion, carrots, and garlic. Gently fry for 10 minutes until softened. 
2. Add the minced beef, breaking up the larger chunks and turn up the heat slightly so it will brown. Stir in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, salt and a generous hit of black pepper. Simmer until the meat is tender. 
3. Transfer to a 9" pie pan. 

1.Peel and dice the potatoes. Put them in a boiler with a pinch of salt, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes or until tender. 
2. When ready drain them off, add the butter, mayo, and half of the cheese. Mash thoroughly until a creamy, smooth texture. 
3. Spoon the mixture onto the meat base, taking care to ensure it is speed evenly. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top (I skipped this.) and put under the broiler for about 10 minutes until the topping browns. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Beach time!

It would appear that Gray is his father's child. He loves the beach and would stay all day, every day if he could. I, on the other hand, am so pale that too much sun is never a good choice. That and I'm not really a fan of being covered in sand for hours up to days (in the car, in your bag, in your scalp) after each trip. I try to be a good sport and go occasionally, but I would much rather just look at it than actually play in it. 

Pacific Beach is a tourist haven in the summer months, so we are usually driving around looking for parking or wading through a ton of people for a place to lay our towels out. I prefer going later in the season on a week day. There is generally less people out and the weather is usually nice enough to go at least a couple weeks out of every month. The one thing that is strange about the beach here is that it can be FREEZING in May, and warm in November. It is usually warm all summer, all year really, but the weather isn't 76 and sunny all year around like San Diegans would like for you to think it is. I literally wore a hoodie in late May this year to watch Josh surf. 

This particular day there were tons of dolphins in the water. It seems like I see dolphins fairly often down there, but Gray totally missed them this day. I originally saw one fin and got a little freaked out (I even know that if you see a shark you are generally ok. It's when you don't see them that you could be in trouble.) then I saw about 4-5 more pop up. They were surfing and playing along the beach. Josh surfs with them often enough, and I'm pretty jealous about that. Maybe not jealous enough to surf with him... 

Not sure if I shared these two photos below before, but I just love them so much it can't hurt to re-share them. California has beaches different from anything I've seen on the East Coast or the Gulf, but they are all beautiful in different ways. Pacific Beach is no different, it just happens to have a different vibe than most of the beaches in San Diego. 

Monday, October 1, 2012


Josh went to Yuma for about a month for some weapons training. He was ultra busy, but Gray and I drove out into the dessert to visit him one weekend. A month isn't that long to be gone, but I think it's not fair to Gray or Josh for them to be separated for that long when we are so close (about 3.5 hour drive). 
Breakfast with Daddy!
Yuma is basically alone out in the middle of nowhere, so it wasn't super easy to find something that we could do fairly quickly outside without melting. Josh had a roommate, so we didn't want to just take over while he was trying to study. That lead us to the Yuma Territorial Prison! It was a very interesting museum/prison from the 1800s. It was a very inexpensive little place to visit, and we all enjoyed it. Naturally after we looked around for about an hour, it was way to hot to stick around. We we went to a little sports bar and watched some football in the glorious air conditioning! 

Gray's sad prison face. 
Cells out in the middle of the dessert.
I'm getting hot just thinking about this place in the summer. 

Gray loved this bell because it was incredibly loud! 

After a day in Yuma, we turned around and came back to San Diego. We got to see some great friends that just moved out there and spend some time with Josh, so it was a great trip. If Josh has to go back out again for more training, I'm going to check into some indoor activities because it's too hot in the desert to spend much time outside. :) 
This is always my favorite part of the drive.
Imperial Dunes just over the California state line.
Exhausted after an action packed day!
Passed out in bed with his Bible and his Daddy! 
Fletch claims his Daddy's spot when he isn't around to do it himself.
We really need to buy Fletch his own bed... 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Boyz II Men!

I heard about a Boyz II Men concert coming to San Diego several months before it actually happened. It was the weekend after my birthday, so I thought maybe Josh and I would go together. The USMC had other plans, and sent him to Yuma for a month, which left Gray and I to do something fun all on our own. Luckily he is too little to have any opinions so I got to plan a super fun birth-week celebration which included a 3 day trip back to Disney and a Boys II Men concert in Oceanside! 

A friend wanted to go with us to the concert, so we got in line and accidentally found he house from Top Gun!! It's all fenced up so you can't go in, but it was still pretty neat to see. I did a little google research to see if it was the actual house and found out that the other houses on the street had been torn down or moved, but this one was saved due to its 15 minutes of fame. There are plans to move it to another location, but it hasn't been moved yet. 

On to the concert! It was in an open air concert venue, right next to the water. The Oceanside pier doesn't give good concert views, but I'm sure it still sounded nice to those lucky people who were on the pier that night. They sang for close to two hours, and they sounded amazing in concert. I was also impressed that after 20+ years, they still have all those fancy choreographed dance moves! 

Passing out roses. The 40-50 year olds were loving it! 
Gray on stage after the concert ended.
The venue has stadium seats, so we sat down with Gray instead of fighting the crowd for a closer view. Gray danced, ran, drank lots of water, and whined because it was hot, but I think he did a pretty well at the concert. We did go stand close to the stage (within a few feet of the Boyz) a few times, but Gray was more interested in dancing than watching the concert. Not a bad first concert experience for the Monkey.