Sunday, July 24, 2016

eighteen years ago today



eighteen years ago today, i was a fiercely independent 23 year old who was just returning from a month’s vacation in europe. as i returned to my job at a small local church, there was a note in my box from the church’s pastor. it read simply, “a guy named jim called looking for you…he sounds nice. call him back.” and with that note my life changed forever.


little did I know that the match making had started long before my pastor had gotten involved. my mother went to a church when she was in high school with a young girl named thelma. over the years they had lost contact with each other but, that year, thanks to the wonder of email, they reconnected and came to find out that they each had children, who were single, living within an hour of one another who were both interested in law enforcement (side note: this was in my forensic science days. i have a master’s degree in it. i have never used it once. #moneywellspent.) somehow my mother and thelma managed to get my number to thelma's son, jim. he was instructed to call. maybe i needed help getting my law-enforcement career going. maybe he could use a friend when he came to san diego. regardless of their reasons, my number ended up in his hands and on that july day of 1998, he called…and i called back.



we talked for a couple of weeks on the phone, a few minutes here, a few minutes there and we slowly found out we had things in common. we laughed, shared some more and talked vaguely about grabbing lunch sometime. and when lunch never seemed to work, we decided on dinner, on a friday night, just two single young adults who had never seen each other. 



as i think back now, i’m horrified that this complete stranger drove up to my apartment where i lived alone to pick me up for what had now become a blind date. still, at that time, i was just nervous. i had never seen a picture. there was no facebook stalking. facebook didn’t exist. our date was planned based on our phone conversations alone and when he showed up with flowers as i peered from my bedroom window, i knew i was in trouble. 



this week marks that first blind date. four weeks ago we marked sixteen years of being married…and i wouldn’t have it any other way. our marriage isn’t perfect…far from it. it’s work as all relationships are. it requires priority and compromise. it requires forgiveness and endless communication. it and all marriages are work but as i went on that first date so many years ago and as i have gone on countless dates with the same man for the last 18 years, i know the work is worthwhile. he is worth it. our marriage is worth it. our family is worth it. as i think back on eighteen years ago this week, i can’t help but feel grateful that i took a pastor’s advice and called the stranger back. that note changed the course of my life for the rest of my life…and i’m forever grateful.



Monday, July 18, 2016

what happens at #catconla...


we love girls’ weekends. we can’t get enough of them. so when our favorite friends from nutrish offered us the chance to spend a girls’ weekend together at catcon in los angels, we jumped at the chance. first of all, we absolutely love working with nutrish. besides having pet food products that we adore and use faithfully, the people who represent their company are absolutely wonderful. we love spending time with them. second of all, we got to spend the weekend together….and attend catcon. we spent three fun filled days catching up together, visiting with our friends from nutrish and soaking up all that catcon los angeles had to offer. does it really get any better?



it is impossible to put all of catcon into words but we can share with you some of our favorite moments and items we saw at catcon. if you are in the los angeles area, let us just tell you…go. the costumes alone are worth the trip…and where else can you find multiple “you’ve cat to be kitten me right meow” shirts all in one place? seriously…go. you will be glad you did.

in case you cannot make it, here are our favorite things about catcon. this list doesn’t do our trip justice but it can give you a small taste of all we were able to experience that weekend.

lola 

really, she is the highlight of catcon. the fact that heather actually spontaneously adopted a kitten from the spca booth at catcon is nothing short of miraculous. how could she resist though? lola is the sweetest little thing ever. she would melt your heart too.



nutrish 

the nutrish booth was amazing. it felt like we were walking into a very trendy, cat loving apartment. the very best thing about this apartment, however, was that there were artists there making caticatures. you read that right. there were two artists who joined a human’s face with their cat’s body and made a drawing for people to take home. people stood in line for hours to get this done and the results were amazing. we are waiting on ours which are being sent from our nutrish friends but we wish you could see some of the pictures. seriously. so good. 



we also cannot get enough of nutrish and it was great getting to be with them for a while handing out samples of nutrish cat food. we use nutrish everyday and have for years so it's a no brainer to share our love with others. it's done wonders for our cats and it can be bought wherever we do our normal grocery shopping. #winning. if you haven't tried it, click here to get started. you won't be disappointed!

this picture

for real. this picture. i have no words to describe it. #catconla


made by cleo cat collars

we couldn't pass up the made by cleo booth. jane, mr. darcy and lola are all sporting new collars. they have the best patterns of fabric for the collar and then matching or coordinating flowers and bow ties. mr. darcy has never looked more handsome.


shen and sam co. candles

these candles smell amazing. we spent a really long time going from scent to scent because we could not decide which were our favorites. they are also subtly decorated with cat prints that could blend easily into everyday decor. they smelled fantastic and i want one for every room of the house. if you can't make it to cat con, you can find their candles at shenandsam.com. you can also get 20% off your order until august 31st with the code: catconla. 



peach pet liners

these beds are simple and the prints are trendy and bright. they are perfect for a clean, happy look in the house. heather couldn't resist one for lola and she curled right up and slept in it her very first night home. they also assemble easily together and do not take up much space in the house. they are perfect for small spaces or for people like me who don't want the cat accessories to take over. 



kafbo scratching posts

we loved these handmade scratching posts. they are shaped into animals and the scratching part is made of cardboard pieces. they are durable and simple and are easily portable to any room of the house. we loved that they were made out of really beautiful wood. lola played with hers right away and we know it will save pieces of furniture all over heather's house. you can find yours by looking here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/KAFBO


together time

the very best thing about catconla? well, that is simple. we got to spend it together. it doesn't matter where we are, we are just happy to have each other to walk through life with. the fact that we got to experience cat con, los angeles with one another and with our friends from nutrish, well, that is just icing on the cake. 



Tuesday, July 12, 2016

it's a girl!



this post is sponsored by rachael ray's nutrish. the thoughts and opinions are my own.


after being a happy #boymom to my favorite 6 & 8 year olds on the planet i am happy to say that we have added a girl to our little family! not the human kid, friends. this gal recently brought home a bundle of cute kitten goodness to complete our family.

a couple of weeks ago, genelle and i were able to spend an amazing girlfriends weekend together at catcon (thanks to our favorite people at nutrish). living across the country from each other, genelle and i get giddy with happiness when we have the opportunity to travel together for the blog and be able to spend time together. catcon is a huge convention that takes place in los angeles for all the cat lovers of the world to unite, participate in all sorts of fun activities, peruse cat related merchandise and learn more about the best of the best in all cat products.



we knew we were going to have a fun time at catcon, but even though my boys had been begging for a pet for months, i had *zero* intention of coming home with a kitten. the last few years of my life have been filled with lots of highs and lows that were beyond my control so i find myself not often doing things impulsively. however, upon entering the spca's area with adoptable kitten and cats from local shelters and seeing the cutest kitten ever i was head over heals for miss lola.




after a little disbelief in my own desire to add a kitten to our family, and a little gentle push from genelle....i adopted her. my heart was warm and we left the area with instructions to come back to pick her up at the end out the day. i practically skipped with glee out of there to tell our friends at nutrish. everyone shared in my joy....and then the panic set in. what the heck was i going to do?! we were in la, staying at a hotel, with *nothing* there to be able to bring home my newly adopted fur baby. in a mad dash, we rushed to the closest target in an uber for the essentials (who knew there were so many litter options?!), rushed back to our favorite vendors to grab more goodies and, of course, nutrish cat food for miss lola.




with the hotel set up for my newest addition, we headed back to catcon to pick her up, introduce her to her new nutrish family members and head back to the hotel.

we cozied in for a "say yes to the dress marathon" in our pj's and started taking a ridiculous amount of sleepy kitty photos (like any good cat mom should, correct?!)








after our return to san diego, miss lola settled in nicely and i prepared to surprise my sweet boys when they returned home.....and boy were they surprised!




after deciding that she needed an additional name was needed.....miss lola ohana was officially a member of our little clan (ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten...for my fellow lilo & stitch fans out there).




lola has settled in nicely and the boys are obsessed with learning how to care for her and make her feel welcomed. sweet lola follows them around everywhere they go and has already rounded out our family with love and happiness. moral of this story? maybe i should be impulsive on a more frequent basis and happiness often comes when you least expect it.



about nutrish:

nutrish is the fantastic line of super premium pet food created by the brilliant pet advocate, rachael ray. nutrish is made with simple, wholesome ingredients like real meat or fish, and do not contain poultry by-product meal or fillers.

rachael's personal proceeds go to rachael's rescue which was created to help shelter pets in need. to date, she has donated over $10 million. this money has gone toward food, medical supplies and treatments for those unfortunate animals. all of the rachael ray nutrish products are available where you shop for your family's groceries, making specialty recipes accessible and convenient for every pet parent. if you are considering adding a new member to your family, please consider adoption.

please follow nutrish on social media:
twitter: http://twitter.com/nutrish
facebook: http://facebook.com/nutrish
instagram: http://instagram.com/nutrish



Thursday, June 23, 2016

thank you for being a friend...


they say that if you have been friends with someone for more than seven years, you will be friends for your lifetime. i have found that to be true. there are some friends that i have known so long, they are no longer just friends but extended family.


that is the case with us. heather and i met in a summer school class in our small college in san diego in 1997. i had just moved into a house with a couple other girls and we needed a roommate. i figured heather and i had laughed at the same things in that summer school class and i'd known her for a full 24 hours so i figured she would work. little did we know that during that one class, we would set the stage for a lifetime of sisterhood friendship. we added one more roommate over time and our household of five college aged girls was complete.


over the next year, we laughed together, fought with each other, dated a parade of boys that came through the house, vacationed together, cried together, danced in our socks across the hardwood floors and grew up together in one of the most life altering years of our lives. as time and years passed, we walked through heartbreak together, first jobs together, engagements, marriages, and babies. heather was the first call i made when i went into labor with my first born son. these girls have walked through each stage of live with me. they are precious beyond what words can describe.


over the years we see each other less and less. when we are together, however, it is as if no time has passed. we talk over each other's sentences, filling the space and the years with excited words and pieces of our lives. we have a bond that distance and years can't separate and time together is like medicine for the heart. these girls have known me at my worst, my most insecure, my most indecisive, my most fearful, my most brokenhearted. they have seen me through every life stage and have loved me through each. when i look back at the last 20 years, i cannot imagine those years without the fingerprints of each one of these women in my life.


this weekend during a blogging trip to california, we managed to secure child care, carve out time, and spend a few precious hours together. we could have talked for hours and the child care ended long before we were ready to go. it was short but every second of time we spent together reminded me why i love these girls so much. we are different, have different views, live in different towns, have a total of 17 kids between us, have husbands with varying careers, have walked through divorce, cancer, sickness, moves, miles of separation, and more but we still come back to the heart of it all every time we are together. we remember why it was we count those college years as so dear. we remember all of the laughter, all of the shared tears, and years and years of memories built together. in one quick moment, our lives come together once more.


this is what friendship should look like. friendship walks through fires and years and separation and lives to tell the tale. friendship looks beyond differences and finds the things we have in common. friendship loves through bad hair-do's and the passing trend of baggy jean overalls. friendship turns strangers who met in a summer school class into the family we choose for ourselves. friendship loves through thick and thin and makes us better for the years spent together. friendship makes life sweeter. thank you, sweet friends, for being mine for the last twenty years. i couldn't love you more.



Wednesday, May 25, 2016

how to be your pet's favorite in one easy step


this post was sponsored by the lovely people at nutrish. the comments and opinions are all our own.

my life is pretty high maintenance. with all of my kids running around, work to do, life to live, i needed pets that were pretty low key. i got two cats who, while fairly easy to care for, pretty much glare at me on a daily basis. i used to fool myself into believing that they just had a resting angry face but, no. i'm pretty sure they are thinking mean thoughts in a british accent as they stare at me each day. 


don't get me wrong, they love certain people in our family. the boy cat sleeps with my oldest son every night and the girl cat will sleep anywhere within a five foot radius of my husband. she just sleep by me by default. if i move, she stays put. if he moves, she gets up and leaves the room with him. i'm pretty much superfluous where my cats are concerned. 

it's my fault, really. i gave them names that belong in british literature. mr. darcy has never forgiven me and jane, i believe is just insulted that she got named after a minor literary character and not a leading lady. they have never forgotten who named them and so, i'm not their favorite person.

i can't really blame them. they are loved by so many people in our household that i'm really not needed. i usually walk into a room where one child or another is touching them or petting them, usually when the cats don't want to be bothered. sometimes they are even pet with my child's feet instead of hands. when i tried to convince my four year old not to pet the cat with his feet his response was simply, "she likes my feet the best." who can argue with that? the cats seem happy with that kind of attention and i'm not one to argue with four-year-old logic.

for the most part, the cats exist without needing much from me. the one exception to that is their daily meals. somehow they know that i'm the provider of food and water so when they want one or the other, they follow me wherever i go. it's the one time i feel wanted by them on a semi-daily basis. meal time is the one and only area of their lives that they are high maintenance. first, they refuse to drink from a bowl. ever. if the water isn't fresh and trickling from a stream of water from the faucet, then it doesn't meet up to their standards.  

can you say, "high-maintenance?"

they go one step farther in their neediness as they are sensitive to certain foods and we have found that grain free food settles much better with them than the alternative. because of this, we recently switched from our normal nutrish cat food to nutrish zero grain chicken and potato recipe. our cats have done amazingly well with the switch and seem to be responding exceptionally well to their new food. don't let their resting angry face fool you. 


we have always loved rachael ray nutrish pet food but the new zero grain for cats chicken & potato recipe is even better than what we have used before. it is made with simple, natural ingredients, plus the vitamins and other minerals your cat needs for a complete and balanced diet. there are never any grains, glutens or fillers. u.s. farm-raised chicken is the #1 ingredient. there is zero grains, glutens or fillers, zero poultry by-product meal and no artificial preservatives, colors or artificial flavors. the potatoes and peas are easily digestible and are naturally gluten free to be gentle on a cat's sensitive digestive system. the food gives my cats everything they need to eat and nothing that they don't. they may not notice the difference but i can tell the difference in how well they are digesting their food and how much energy they have around the house. they even look a little less annoyed with me each day. 


the best part about this food is that i don't have to go far to find it. anywhere i run to get groceries, i can find the food i need. if i am every wondering if a store carries it, i can search the nutrish website and get all the information i need to find it in my area. that's about the lowest form of high maintenance  i can find. 

if you would like to try nutrish zero grain cat food, here are three ways that you can get some great deals and even some free bags of cat food to try.
1) head over to the "switch to nutrish" website and sign up to get great coupons and offers.
2) comment on our website or our facebook page. one winner with get a gift package from nutrish with zero grain cat food and some goodies for you and your pet.
3) comment on our website and you could receive coupons for free nutrish zero grain cat food. 

what have you got to lose? free cat food and happy cats are a pretty great combination in my book. who knows? maybe, just maybe i will start to be my cats' favorite person. i'm not counting on it or holding my breath but at least i may move up past the child that pets them with his feet. here's to hoping. 

we love rachael ray and nutrish pet food and we are sure you will as well. you can follow nutrish at:
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NutrishforCats
twitter: http://twitter.com/nutrish
instagram: http://instagram.com/nutrish
pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/nutrishforpets/

rachael's rescue: rachael's personal proceeds from the nutrish pet food line go to rachael's rescue. this organization was created to help shelter pets in need. to date, she has donated over $14 million dollars. this money has gone toward food, medical supplies and treatments for these unfortunate animals.

Monday, May 16, 2016

fun finds: awesome shirts for boys


i am constantly on the lookout for fun shirts for my boys that are not exactly like every other kiddo on the playground are wearing. i love my target, but apparently so does every other mama.....imagine the lost and found at school....it's crazy town.....filled with tons of the same things that you have to dig through. as usual, i turned to my favorite site etsy for unique, fun tees for my little men to wear. support small business and embrace the creative goodness.......happy shopping! xo
























































Wednesday, May 11, 2016

mmmmm: gluten free chicken spaghetti


i'm constantly trying to change old recipes to accommodate my new gluten free self. sometimes the results are pretty delicious. this one gets rave reviews from everyone...the four year old up to my 70 year old parents and everyone in between. seriously, i don't have anyone in my family who is not a fan and that is nothing short of miraculous. it's also easy and makes a ton of food...always a win for us. i hope it's a lifelong win for your family as well.


gluten free chicken spaghetti



ingredients:


1 pound gluten free spaghetti
4 large chicken breasts
1 tablespoon garlic
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

1 bag of frozen, chopped onions (or one white onion chopped)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 green bell peppers, washed and diced
2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup chicken stock
2 cans organic, gluten free cream of chicken soup (or make your own) note: this is not a concentrate. it is the actual ready to eat soup.

2 cups cheddar cheese


instructions:


boil the chicken in a pot full of water, 1 tablespoon of garlic and the worcestershire sauce. allow the chicken to cook for approximately 25 minutes. remove cooked chicken from water and shred or chop into bite sized pieces.

break the pasta in half and boil per package instructions. after cooking and straining, rinse the pasta well with water. gluten free pasta is typically more sticky than other pastas and rinsing helps to eliminate some of that.

sauté the peppers, onions, garlic and butter until onions are translucent and peppers are soft. set aside.

in a large pot, melt the cream cheese until smooth. add the cream of chicken soup, the chicken stock and all the spices. mix well.

add the pasta, chicken and vegetables to the sauce mixture and mix well.

place half of the pasta mixture in a large casserole dish sprayed with non-stick spray. cover with one cup of cheddar cheese. layer the rest of the pasta mixture and top with the last cup of cheese.

bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. enjoy!