Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

Karate School Update

All summer long Jacob has been going to a local Karate school summer camp.  He LOVES it and we love it too! 

The rules and discipline are very strict but the kids seem to thrive in the structure.  There is a strong emphasis on honor, character and strength of spirit.  And of course respect for adults.  The owner of our school is a strong Christian and head of men’s ministry at his church – and I think it really shows in everything they do.

One way (of many) where it is very different from standard day care is that big kids are around little kids – rather than keeping everyone separate, it is expected that the seniors help train the juniors and provide a good example.  The older high school age kids are simply amazing – when they interact with adults and you see their enthusiasm, manners and confidence, it’s just cool.   I can’t wait to see the long term influence on Jacob’s life.  (for right now I’m just thrilled with “yes ma’am”  and “no sir” and the fact that he looks adults in the eye – mostly)

These pictures were taken right after he took his first belt test to move from white belt to yellow belt.  He will continue his training after school each day.  Jacob will compete in his first real tournament in a few weeks.  He is very excited about this (ask him about it if you have a while to chat! ) and has been very diligent practicing his forms and breaking boards (seriously!)




Saturday, September 10, 2011

My New Favorite Mexican Casserole

This one is a lot of work. It is a lot of steps, to make basically from scratch a layered style Mexican casserole.

I am very aware that a similar “king ranch” dish can be had just by dumping together several cans of soup and chicken. So I was skeptical – until I tried it and it is amazingly off the hook good and a world away from the cans of soup version. (Which is still good and I’m not doggin’ it, just that this one is better)

2-3 bell peppers diced (I used red,yellow and green for prettiness)

1 medium onion diced (I use 1016 sweet)

Saute in 2T vegetable oil with 1/2 t salt for 10 minutes


Add in three finely chopped garlic cloves

1T canned chipotle in adobo

2t chili powder

1/4 t pepper

Stir in and cook for 30 seconds more.


Add in 1-1.5 pounds ground pork. If you don’t do pork, then it would probably also be good with ground chicken, turkey or beef. I think it would also be good with shredded chicken or leftover beef brisket. But the original recipe calls for pork and I think the pork is really rich and tasty.

So cook the pork for 8 minutes.


Add in and stir 2T flour and cook for 1 minute. So it already gets kind of thick. This is what keeps the tortillas crispy after you layer it all, you need it to be thick and not too runny.

Add 14.5 oz chicken broth and 1 can of diced tomato (including most of the juice)

Cook for ten minutes.


It ends up looking like this:


During the minutes of meat and broth cooking above – get the tortillas crispy by spraying them with cooking spray and popping them into the oven on a cookie sheet in a single layer (12 corn tortillas at 350 for 4-5 minutes)


Use a pizza cutter to stack and cut four of the tortillas, leave the other 8 whole.

Take it off the heat and add 2T lime juice and 1.4 cup fresh chopped cilantro.


In a 13 X 9 pan layer 1/3 mixture, a layer of 4 whole tortillas and 1 C cheddar cheese.

Repeat with second layer.

Repeat with third layer, except using the 4 tortillas cut into wedges. This makes it so that you can cut into the casserole better and you don’t have whole tortillas sliding around and and messing up the layers when you cut into it. 


Bake 15 minutes at 450.


The thing about this is that the tortilla layers stay crispy so when you cut into it you get these nice saucy layers and then the crispy tortilla layers – it’s very pretty and very tasty and has a lot more texture than the typical king ranch style casserole.

I won’t lie, it takes a while, it’s hands on, it makes a mess – but it is so good and really worth the effort in my opinion.

August– Destin, FL

OK, so I am now only like a month behind. Hah.

The first week of August we went to Destin, FL. I tried to blog while were there but the pictures didn’t upload right, so this is a do-over.

First off – I had posted before about not being sure about the new Becoming Apparel bathing suit. I ordered it and it turns out that I really love it.  It is so comfy and so modest, in fact it is so modest that I will actually post a picture of it on here -


It was especially great for the beach, the design makes it so that sand does not get into places where sand should not be!

Of course we spent many days at the beach.


The rental house had a play room – so the kids had a great time playing up there, watching movies and playing Wii



We spent one evening at a place called Baytown Wharf, it is a resort on the bay with restaurants, and little shops and midway type games and activities for families.


Our whole gang had dinner out on the deck


The boys enjoyed climbing a rope’s course


The kids rode inside these inflated balls, you get in, the inflate it (with a leaf blower), zip it up and then roll you into a pool of water where you roll around and crash into each other. It was really fun to watch.

(My camera doesn’t do far away & at night shots very well)


Random lovely beach pictures


The kids were very excited to have gelato one day. There is an Olivia book where she goes to Italy and eats gelato, so they were excited to try it! 08.2011008708.2011010708.2011010508.20110113

The other kids that were with us… Finley (4), Beckett (18 months) and Ramsey (7)


Bella on her actual 4 year birthday – we had been to the ER the night before because she had cellulitis in her eye, so we were not able to have the big ice cream party we had planned. Instead, she ended up blowing out her candle on waffles that morning. (poor baby!)



On the way home to Texas the next day we stopped at Beauvoir in Biloxi, Mississippi.  Will’s grandfather was a leader in an organization that helps support and run this former home of Thomas Jefferson.  At one time there was a bench with a plaque commemorating his efforts.  Unfortunately it was lost in the hurricane.  It was sobering to see and learn about the effects of the hurricane on this area of our country.  Much of the Biloxi area has not been rebuild at all.  At Beauvoir the presidential museum, a  brand new modern build steel beam building was completely collapsed, but the old wooden house still stands despite 23 foot storm surges – simply amazing. 

Front of the house (grumpy Bella with Mr. Pettibone)


View of the back of the home


Will and I on the front steps


View from the side. The grounds have not been restored very much after the storm, at one time it was park-like with walkways and gardens connecting the historic home and the presidential museum.  The  outbuildings were destroyed, they are all reproductions now.


This is the presidential museum that was completely lost that is now being rebuilt.


It was good to be able to take the kids to a place that Will remembers visiting when he was a young kid.  I think I had taken it for granted that after the storm things would have been rebuilt by now.  I wasn’t prepared to see so many damaged homes and miles of beachfront where you could see nothing but the foundations of the businesses, hotels and homes that used to be there.  I am thankful that this historical place made it through and is still standing for future generations.

Friday, September 9, 2011

July Continued…

It might very well be that no one cares anymore what we did back in July, but I like to do things in order.

So – my Dad came to town for a few days.

Will and my Dad took the kids to the zoo.

I like how both of them have the same fake “smiles”.



Bella is still very much in her not wanting to pose for pictures phase.


On the next day my Dad took Jacob on his first fishing trip, out at Dwight Eisenhower Park. I dropped them off at around 7 am and they fished and messed around for a few hours.  They did not catch anything, but had a great time.

Fishing 1

Very pretty.

Fishing 2

The next day we went to a birthday party at the roller rink.  My camera did not do well at the skating rink. In fact it is around this point that my camera began to not do well period. But anyway -

Here’s Jacob rockin’ and rollin’ – he was a pro because of going skating every week this summer with karate school day camp.


And little sister. Dad had her up on the thing you hold onto but pretty soon they said over the loudspeaker not to do that – oops.


So overall I would say we had a busy fun time with Dad. I think the visit probably kind of wore him out, but in a good way!

The other fun thing that happened in July was that Will and I took a trip to Austin to go to my church reunion from the church I went to as a youth.  It was a really awesome time and also a kind of getaway for us because the kids stayed at my in laws. 

I really didn’t take many pictures, at the reunion I was busy talking and eating and then the rest of the weekend we were mostly just relaxing.  We stayed in a new hotel right on UT campus (my Dad works for UT so we even got a discount woo hoo)

This was my dinner out at our favorite Austin dinner spot Z’Tejas

Pork Tenderloin stuffed with chorizo - YUM


On Sunday before we left we had a late brunch at Juan in a Million. (I know you are thinking ohmygoodness all they did on this trip was eat. Um yeah, pretty much!)

This is a spot we used to go to when we were dating and we always like to go back when we can. This is the place where the tag line and header picture on this blog came from – because the breakfast tacos there are so big you have to order an extra tortilla to hold it all. It is just my quirky was of being thankful for the abundant life that we have through Christ Jesus! (Only I could make a connection between tortillas and Jesus – but hey that’s how my brain works!)

Dad and my brother in law


My sister in law and sweet niece Luella.


The famous taco


"Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure-- pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." Luke 6:38

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